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TV reviews: ABC's 'Rookie Blue,' TNT's 'Memphis Beat'

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Memphis Beat
Three stars
9 p.m. Tuesday on TNT

Rookie Blue
Two stars
8 p.m. Thursday on WLS-Channel 7

The life of a cop is tough enough without having to suffer disrespectful depictions on TV. For every Andy Sipowicz, there's a Barney Fife or Clancy Wiggums -- and pink doughnuts aren't far behind. It's not right. We ask our police officers to put themselves in danger on the street; the least we could do is not submit them to character assassination on the small screen.

Unfortunately, ABC's new "Rookie Blue" is not going to do much for their image. It's not that we're faced with corrupt or abusive cops - nothing like that. No, it's worse: We meet a group of drop-dead gorgeous newbies, who are so eager they could pass for puppies.

Note to ABC: This territory has been covered, rather thoroughly, by the "Police Academy" series. And the young men and women on "Rookie Blue" can't even make funny noises.

Missy Peregrym ("Reaper") plays Andy, whose cop father is going through a "rough patch." She looks like a kinder, gentler Hilary Swank, and we can already predict what her storyline will be: To absorb Important Lessons while earning Respect and Trust.

Of course the veteran cops roll their eyes at the young 'uns; of course issues will be worked out in the locker room, while stripping down; of course it's a bad idea to go in the abandoned building alone. "Rookie Blue" makes every rookie mistake there is.

And the main message going out to the public about new police recruits? "They're so cute!"

There's another new show that police can be proud of, though. TNT's "Memphis Beat" is brought to you by the production team of George Clooney and Grant Heslov, not to mention the ghost of Elvis.

Jason Lee of "My Name Is Earl" fame stars, and as actors go, he's a real original - a former pro skateboarder who has been in projects as varied as "Mallrats," "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and "Almost Famous." Any man who names his son Pilot Inspektor has got to be a fearless artist.

He plays a police detective named Dwight who protects the integrity of Memphis by day, and sings the blues at night. He's not an Elvis impersonator; he's more of an Elvis interpreter, and a sexy one at that.

Some scenes were filmed in New Orleans, including the famed Tipitina's. Lee has confessed that it's not really him singing, though; "My voice didn't quite cut it," he said.
Lee's main costar is Memphis. The music! The cars! The food! The sweat! They lay it on a bit thick, what with Lee starting nearly every sentence with "The way we do it down here . . ." I'm hopeful that future episodes will be more subtle. But Dwight's reverence for his city is touching, and the looks he shoots his partner are hysterical. Watching him climb a tree house to play Barbies with a witness is worth the price of admission.

"Memphis Beat's" version of a rookie is character actor DJ Qualls, who looks the way his name sounds. And Alfre Woodard - who's also putting in appearances on "True Blood" - plays Dwight's new boss. "I ain't the babysitter, Dwight," she tells her new charge. "Mama's home. Act right."

If you're looking for a new cop drama to serve and protect your entertainment interests, leave the rookies alone to ripen, and go for a ride-along with Jason Lee's Dwight. Blue suede shoes not required.

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7 Comments

This was the most refreshing new show of 2010 and I am delighted TNT had the smarts
to know that. Can't wait for the new 2011 season. Cast, Music and Stories are are not
the usual run of the mill, but so good I can watch them several times. The usual police
shows on the networks I could tell you the plot from the first 5 min.
As for the comment about Memphis, as a person who has traveled in most of the U S it
is boring to have every city look and sound alike. Part of the charm of our Country is the
regional differences. Georgia people don't sound like Alabama or people from Charlotte.
Maybe as a Calif person I apprecate the differences , I don't like every city to look the same, Hotels and food chains have done enough to make you wonder what city you are
in. The charm of this show is a gentler side, the importance of people, places and music
to their way of life. Be proud .And to the Producers of this show, thank you.
gk22tx

The best cop show. I was so sorry when I had to watch the season finale. I can't wait for the new season - Jason Lee is the best. DJ Qualls is priceless. Love, love, love the show

The best show on television. I record all shows to what again when nothing else is on (most nights) Can't get enought Dwight time.

If I can Dream is the name of the song in the pilot episode

I would like to know the Elvis song title that Jason Lee sang at the end of the pilot of Memphis Beat.

I can't believe I just heard the comment "Those who can't do teach" on this show. What an insult to the teachers--I know I won't watch it again.

I have lived in Memphis for 47 years and I was very disappointed how Memphians were being portrayed in the movie Memphis Beat. We are not a hick town, and it seems the scenes are always in the low income or worst parts of Memphis. And there are very few people in Memphis that I have heard that talks with a drag...the way they portrayed us. And the first uniform officer that spoke was worst than Barney in Mayberry. If you are going to film a movie about Memphis, at least do your homework and find out what Memphians are really like!

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This page contains a single entry by Paige Wiser published on June 20, 2010 4:21 AM.

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