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Review: Memphis Beat


The other evening I was talking with several friends and asked them if they had seen    “Memphis Beat”, a new show on TNT. They said they found it a bit too folksy and cutsey, but they’re originally from Connecticut/New York, and the Montana/California area. I spent my formative years in the South, grew up in Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee, before our family moved north to New York, to join my dad, who was working there. So even though I could never see myself living in the South again, some of the rhythms in the blood will always be there. I can still speak the language, and my small stature does indeed sheathe the blade of a Steel Magnolia.

Speaking of those hardy flowers reminds me of a scene from this week’s episode of the show. It takes place in a bar, a loud, smoky, bluesy Memphis bar, where Dwight goes to sing at night. A racially-mixed, perfectly amicable crowd enjoy themselves in the background. Jason Lee’s Detective Dwight Hendricks is at the bar, when his new boss, Lt. Tanya Rice, played by the wonderful Alfre Woodard, approaches and orders another drink.

Dwight is working on a difficult investigation, he’s concerned about a friend’s financial straits, and he and Lt. Rice are still in getting-acquainted mode. Pitching his voice to be heard above the noise, Dwight poses a question to Lt. Rice concerning the victim’s finances, to which she replies. “Money! It warps family. Too much of it or not enough of it. You know, I do believe, Dwight, that more than personal chemistry, more than sexual chemistry, a couple needs financial chemistry, or else bad choices will be made. The way a person spends, that’s…that’s their most secret self and you can’t touch that.” Alfre Woodard is an enormously talented actor and a very beautiful, strong woman. Her character and Jason Lee’s play off of each other very well, after their initial clash in styles. But there was something so compelling about her delivery in this scene, such a mix of smoky, earthy, almost absent-minded sensuality, driven by the power of her intellect and fueled by her years of experience, that I rewound and rewatched it four or five times. It was worth it for her delivery and her expressions alone.

The show has the usual lovable mix of ensemble characters, including D. J. Qualls, Officer Davey Sutton, who I remembered from an episode of “Lost”. His rather offbeat appearance and endearing personality add a lot to the show for me. Celia Weston plays Paula Ann Hendricks, and I love the scenes between her and her son, Dwight. This show gets the Southern vibe right for a change, and I love Dwight’s reverence for his mother, his city, his people and the music that is woven into every frame of the show. If you enjoy actual people more than heavy weapons fire and car chases, this quirky, charming show just might strike the right note for you.

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Author: Melody J Haislip

I'm either a transplanted East Coaster or a born again West Coaster. My heart kept pulling me toward Oregon, and when I followed it I found my dream, which I am living daily. My dream of becoming a writer has come true as well. I am in the company of people who speak my language, and the sense of community is healing hurts I didn't know were there. I am very grateful for my enormous good fortune.

8 thoughts on “Review: Memphis Beat

  1. This show is a nice change. I watch on Tuesday nights, too.


  2. I agree. I just saw this week’s episode last night. The way the new Lt. and the lead character are trying to accommodate each other is an interesting dance. I love the music in the background, mostly blues. Just when you think, another cop show, you get a surprise like this. And I’m from NYC; I enjoy his knowledge of the culture. When a young girl disappears, he knows there’s no way she’d miss that willingly. In short, I’m recording the entire series.


  3. If I ever get around to watching TV, I’ll check it out. I’m with you on preferring character and dialogue over wanton violence. How dull that gets, as well as soul-sickening.

    It’s amazing how we develop an attachment to our roots, wherever they may be. I think I’m still a tomboy roaming the PA countryside when indeed, it’s been more than 50 years!

    I admire your powers of observation, Melody!


  4. We haven’t yet got this show in the UK but from your review, it sounds great. I love the books of Fannie Flagg, the way she describes the gentle pace of the south and her humour just makes me tingle inside!


  5. Dear Ladies, thank you all for your comments. This show seems to “get” Memphis and its pace and characters, and especially the music. Sometimes They actually get it right. 🙂


  6. Love the show! recently did a review on my blog. It’s the ole southern charm of solving crimes and networking with people. Like the chemistry between Dwight & Det. Rice as well..


  7. @clara54 Yes, I caught the sparks flying between Dwight and Lt. Rice. Did you see the last show, where there was some concern that she might be leaving, and how Dwight stopped her? Hot! I’m going to check out your review and see your take. I’m so sorry it’s already on hiatus. I do believe they’ve renewed it, though. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.


  8. @clara54 How do I find you, please?


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