For some reason, try as I might, I can not get the picture of Jason Lee’s character Brodie yelling about how some kid was going to get hurt on running up and down the escalator. Yeah I know that Mallrats came out in 1995, but for me that one scene told the world that Lee was here and wasn’t going anywhere. Now 15 years later Lee is starring in his second series, the first being of course the quirky My Name is Earl, Memphis Beat which premiered recently on TNT. A channel that is quickly becoming known as the place to go for fresh, new shows. Personally I love Leverage and Hawthorne is not that bad either. But the question today is: Should I bother with Memphis Beat? I know it must seem strange that I am writing up a review after 2 episodes have already aired and I have a good excuse for my tardiness. My family was visiting for a couple of weeks and well you try watching a new show with the intention of writing up a review and see how much work you get done. On the plus side now I have 2 episodes in which to base my review on. Because lets face it pilot episodes are tricky little devils. Sometimes they are event television that captures the minds and hearts of the viewers only to have the rest of the season die a slow and painful death. While others are merely stepping stones to many seasons of joy and wonderment. It is rare that we the viewer are able to gain an honest overall opinion on what a show may be on 45 minutes worth of screen time.
I have to warn you I have a tendency to be a bit prejudice against shows that are set in the south. Not because I have a problem with the south, but because I happen to live there and for some reason most of the shows I have seen tend to boil everyone who lives here into a certain stereotype. Like for instance I have never been to a hoe-down and I don’t know anyone who has. My main cooking ingredient is not Crisco and I have never owned a pair of cowboy boots. But seeing as how I have never been to Memphis and I have no idea what their way of life is like I have elected to believe that the writers of this show did their research and are trying to be as close to the real people of Memphis as they can be.
The pilot episode came off more as “The Jason Lee Show” than an ensemble show. Which other than a few gems from the great Alfre Woodard and a couple of shots of Abraham Benrubi with god awful Willie Nelson hair we don’t get to see much of the rest of the cast. It often feels as though they are trouted out just as a reminder that this isn’t a one man show. Luckily Lee doesn’t grate the nerves or come off as an over-bearing jackass so I didn’t mind the fact that he was in practically every scene. Unlike most cop shows the pacing of Memphis Beat ambles along as though it is enjoying a nice leisurely walk through a park. It knows it is going to get to it’s destination, but doesn’t feel the need to rush. I have to admit that I found myself enjoying the pace of the show. Although it didn’t grab from the beginning, I too found myself strolling along with the story. The Elvis angle tends to throw me off, but that may be because I am not sure if that is really Lee singing or it could be that I have never been an Elvis fan. I don’t know which, but hey even I have to admit that it kinda works for this show. I still have to watch the second episode but if it is anything like the first episode I have a feeling I may have an appointment this summer for a leisurely stroll every Tuesday night.
Until next time,