Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Memphis Beat

Watched it last night, had to.

The thing is, it didn't keep my attention very well. I'll give it another shot (or two), but I can't help but think this show was written by people who never spent any time in Memphis, let alone grew up there.

First, there's Jason Lee. He's a good enough actor, and I think he's right for the role, but, an Elvis fan? Really? He talks about how he grew up listening to Elvis, how Memphis is "sacred ground" - the kind of stuff a New York/LA script writer would say.

Here's a reality check - Jason Lee/his character is the exact wrong age to be a fan of Elvis. Why? Because by the time he was old enough to listen to Elvis (and remember it), Elvis was dead. His mom on the show is too young to be an Elvis fan, for crying out loud! Maybe he grew up listening to grandmas' records or something.

Another thing; although Memphis claims Elvis as its' own, Elvis spent most of his time in Las Vegas, especially in the '70's. I know. I lived two blocks from Graceland. I worked at the gas station (which is now a souvenir shop) across the street from Graceland. Uncle Vester used to bring the Cadillacs in for oil changes from time to time, but never an Elvis sighting. My mom thought she saw Priscilla once, leaving Graceland, but that's about it.

The whole "sacred ground" thing is very post-Elvis, brought on by his death and deification. Very not-Memphis.

Here are some reviews that add to what I'm saying (emphasis mine):

The Memphis location is meant to add distinction, but it doesn’t quite work. The setting and the musical references seem oddly artificial, right down to Lee’s stage performance, for which his voice has been dubbed.
That's because it's shot in New Orleans, maybe?
Everything about Beat, from the accents to the Elvis impersonators lining the police station, from Hendricks' after-hours hobby singing at a bar to his underdeveloped co-workers, suggests a series working too hard to achieve the evocative atmosphere and offbeat characters that come so effortlessly in FX's superior Southern-set drama "Justified."
Working too hard- at the wrong stuff, I agree wholeheartedly.
More often it is labored and belaboring, from the eccentric station-house staff- including Abraham Benrubi, wearing Willie Nelson's old pigtails, as a Chickasaw desk sergeant, and DJ Qualls as a slack-jawed Cletus of a patrol officer--to the Elvis imitators on the street and Dwight's constant promotion of Memphis as "sacred ground" to people who, after all, live there too.
Memphis ain't New Orleans. Of course, you'd have to spend time in Memphis to know that.

This review, however, points to what irritates me the most:
In many respects, Dwight is Memphis. Or at the very least, he’s a man who exemplifies all of the things that I expect Memphians pride themselves on. He’s a polite, intelligent, Elvis-loving gentleman who seems to genuinely believe in serving and protecting his community.
Yep, that's Memphis, all polite and Elvis-like. Y'all come back now, ya hear?

By the way, the police here don't have "wards" they have "precincts". Hey, New Orleans has wards, doesn't it? Don't get me wrong, I love New Orleans, but they are who they are, Memphis is what it is.

I wonder if we'll ever hear Saliva play on this show. They're from Memphis, ya know.



Moogie P said...

Now I remember -- THAT'S what I intended to record last night and forgot to do!

There was a review of the show in the Times-Picayune,, mainly focusing on the NOLA connection.

But, in all honesty, there is a group of 100 or so guys who are allowed to ride in the all-female Krewe of Muses parade. They are the Rolling Elvi -- all dressed in the Vegas-style white suit and sunglasses and riding Vespas. So we do have an Elvis connection!

Remind me to record it next week -- I'm interested to read your analyses as the series progresses.

And, yep, there's that Ward v. Precinct thing!

Rustmeister said...

I'm hoping once it settles in and the characters develop, it will be a decent show.

I'm also hoping that Tennessee/Memphis will get their heads out of their butts and get the show filming here.