The creators of 'Memphis Beat' have come up with a series that is loaded with a great southern country blues vibe resonating throughout each episode, which unfolds an earthy, honest feel to the lives of the characters. Jason Lee, as usual, brings his own unique perspective to the role of Police Detective Dwight Hendricks. This is not 'My Name is Earl' and that's o.k! In fact, this show has been unfavorably compared to 'Justified' by my critiquing compatriots on assorted websites, and I must strongly object. These two excellent programs are a paradoxical case of R&B, a bit of Jazz & the scent of Honeysuckle working rough things out all nice and sweet (Memphis Beat) over a gritty mix of gansta-twang toughness, dissected to the bone (Justified). It is a matter of cottonballs and baseballs, both are round and white, and quite useful, but not relative to one another.
The caliber of actors on 'Memphis Beat' is outstanding. Sam Hennings, is Det. White, Lee's partner, always ready to play bad cop by nature. In one episode, while being grilled, a suspect very thoughtfully quotes Ovid; not easily out-thunk, Det. White brusquely ripostes revelations routed from a song by Johnny Cash. Great stuff! Davey Sutton (D.J. Qualls), a member of the force, comes off at first sight as a Barney Fife bungler, yet he is not. Moreover, I see this officer as a skinny, rather homely, lean man of might, which keeps the viewer slightly off balance. The guys are all answerable to their female leader, Lt. Rice (Alfre Woodard), who hands them their heads one minute, yet, if you look deep enough the next, she exudes a vexation from the heart that speaks of a mother's concern toward her grown children. Another female who, along with Woodard, is the glue to this ensemble, is Celia Weston (Dwight's mother, Paula). Soft spoken with a calm demeanor, we never know what peculiarity Paula might feel a need to express.
Why watch 'Memphis Beat' over the other summertime cop shows on television? During these hot, lazy months my teens are home from school and we enjoy spending some time one evening a week watching this warmhearted, down to earth detective who is not willing to shoot first and ask questions later. He's just working it out creatively to keep it copacetic for these people he actually cares about in his colorful little county. This is a dramedy with music that kills. Check it out!