I don’t make a habit of catching TNT dramas. Mainly because, for the most part, they, ya know, suck heinously.
So when I first heard that TNT was releasing a show called “Memphis Beat” this summer, I was immediately like, “Oh, no they di’n’t.” Not in my city, where I lived for four years during college. They’re not going to take a not-so-much-known-as-remembered-faintly and overly-advertised dump on my Beale Street, are they?
Oh yes, they are.
The show’s already here. It’s been made. It’s being produced. Actors are acting in it. Right now, the same people who put Holly Hunter and Kera Sedgwick in front of my Saving Private Ryan and John Q reruns are fanning their well-trimmed and thin goatees, waiting to find another project to likely lose money on. The train has left the station. So in the spirit of enjoying the ride, I’m trying to think of some good things to say about this show, so that I can enjoy this, uh, “tribute” to a city I enjoy so drunkenly thoroughly.
Jason Lee is pretty cool. I liked My Name Is Earl and his Kevin Smith-film work is pretty funny.
But that’s about all I can say. There are a couple of points that I can’t seem to wrap my pea-sized brain around with this show. Right off the bat, let’s start with the premise: That Lee is some kind of sweet-talkin’ Memphis po-lice officer who knows the streets so well, the smart criminals just turn themselves in! Howdy! Why doesn’t this Yankee-lady-cop get it? This guy knows what he’s doing because he knows Memphis, amiright?!
Memphis, to put it mildly, is crazy. I don’t know if you’re familiar with what Memphis is most known for when speaking within the context of how society works there or how police enforcement functions, but I have a little knowledge, and it isn’t nearly as charming. Off the top of my head, there’s this story about a mother bringing a sword concealed in a walking cane to her daughters school (a regular enough occurence, I know), riots (with shots being fired) at the Zoo on free admission day, and four officers injured at the ever-fly Plush Club. Never mind a buddy of mine getting abducted rather randomly for about 12 hours for his wallet and cell phone. Memphis is a special kind of crazy, and that kind of crazy creates a certain kind of crazy police officer.
Now, I love DJ Qualls as much as the next guy. But if this guy asked for my ID at an on-campus party, I’d laugh at him. I would only suspect that other people in the Memphis community would do the same or worse…like abduct him for 12 hours and take his wallet and cell phone. I’m not saying they need to make “The Wire: Part 2” or anything like that, but something a little closer to that and a little further away from “Las Vegas” or “Leverage” is probably in order.
By probably, I mean definitely.
Also, there seems to be a heavy Elvis influence which is…meh. I like Elvis. I really, do. But I never once went to Graceland, and I don’t plan to. After seeing Jason Lee do some sort of performance, I’m pretty sure they’re going to lean heavily on the Elvis stuff. They purport to also cherish the blues, but I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m very curious to see if they’ll showcase the actual mayors of Mempis, Three 6 Mafia. One of my fondest memories of college was after the 2007 Academy Awards, when the rap trio won for Best New Song in a Film for “Hard Out Here For a Pimp” in Hustle n Flow. At the time, it was Martin Scorsese – zero, Three 6 Mafia – one on the “How many Oscars do you own?” scale.
In the post-award interview, if my memory serves me correctly, it was DJ Paul who pointed to his golden, highly coveted Academy Award and said “I’ma hafta melt this thang down; You can’t buy weed and pussy with this.” True story (also a Dave Chappelle reference for the keen ear).
So I’m hoping they’ll have more of that.
But I’ll watch it. When they’re filming in sunny, clean and bright Los Angeles, I’ll notice and harumph, but when they cut to their stock footage of Beale Street or something, I’ll smile fondly. I earnestly hope it’s good, because Memphis is good. I just hope they can capture some of that Memphis awesomeness, rather than make it that sort of awkward-TNT type of dramedy that fat women go nuts for.
Needless to say, I’ll be in Memphis this weekend. Hope to see you there.