Memphis Beat, "I Want to Be Free"
Originally Aired August 24th, 2010
Plot Synopsis: It's the season finale of Memphis Beat and things get a little crazy with an opening dream sequence. Detective Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee) is onstage performing a rousing rendition of Elvis Presley's "Guitar Man." After screaming female fans chase him to the dressing room, Dwight looks in the mirror and sees a familiar sight: It's Jerry Schilling, the old Elvis buddy (and onetime embattled head of the Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission).
"You know who I am Dwight?," Schilling asks. "I was one of Elvis' best friends since we were kids. He called us the Memphis Mafia. I think Elvis would be very proud of what you've done for Memphis and I want to give you something very special."
With that, Schilling whips out a gold "TCB" necklace and Dwight kneels to accept it, as if he's being knighted.
"He gave all of us guys one of these," Schilling says. "Mine always meant the world to me. But I'd like you to have one now. Dwight I hope you'll remember what this means."
Rowdy Memphis (Plot synopsis):: Tony (Daniel Hugh Kelly) proposes to Ms. Hendricks (Celia Weston) at the Furthermore Hotel. Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee) isn't sure how he feels about that, but thankfully (for him), a crime has happened at the hotel that he can investigate instead.
A groom has gone missing on the day of his wedding. Greg Watson, the groom, was set to be married to Hilary Orland (Kayla Mae Maloney). Hilary is the daughter of Memphis City Councilman Gerald Orland (Sam Anderson), and Greg was his aide.
Suspects include Greg's best man, the famous basketball player Colin Stevens (James Aaron Smith), and Greg's dad, with whom he recently had an argument at the Rendezvous.
There's blood all under the marble floor in Greg's hotel room.
The investigation leads to a link between Rachel Stein, a reporter for the Memphis Voice newspaper, and the missing groom. Stein was investigating kickbacks going to Councilman Orland for the passage of a $300 million mall development on the Mississippi River. She has since gone missing. But she left her reporters notes in her car, providing valuable clues for Dwight.
The developer of the mall, Chester Bayonne, is implicated in the kickback scheme, and Dwight surveilles Bayonne meeting with a suspected hired gun. Dwight, Whitehead (Sam Hennings), and Officer Sutton (DJ Qualls) open up the trunk of a car at the scene of the meet-up and find the bodies of Greg Watson and Rachel Stein.
Dwight approaches the councilman who admits in a roundabout way that he took the bribe. Dwight deduces who was behind the murder: Hilary Orland. She's arrested. It's unclear if Gerald Orland takes a fall in it all. Well, I couldn't figure it out anyway.
Episode Named After: The American folk song "I Shall Not Be Moved," a Negro spiritual. The song was used in turn by the labor movement and the civil rights movement. Maya Angelou named a book after it. The song was one of the covers performed by the Million Dollar Quartet — Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis — in a session at Sun on December 4, 1956.
Rowdy Memphis (Plot synopsis): Lt. Rice (Alfre Woodard) discovers that her ex-husband transferred $20,000 out of the bank account she thought he had been removed from. Rice and a bank assistant tussle. Dwight (Jason Lee), Whitehead (Sam Hennings), and Sutton (DJ Qualls) are about to eat some barbecue when they get a call about a hostage situation. A black man has taken a white man hostage in his home. Dwight recognizes the black man as Sebastian LaGrange (Clarence Williams III), a notable session musician from years before. LaGrange is out of his mind and thinks the white man, an eviction process server, was actually there to take him back to Angola prison.
Dwight and the team determine that LaGrange is really Leroy Hitch, a man convicted of a 1958 murder who later escaped from Angola and was never heard from again. Dwight goes about clearing LaGrange/Hitch’s name, believing him to be innocent of the murder of his white girlfriend. The investigation leads to Louisiana, where Dwight talks to the dead girl’s sister (Veronica Cartwright), does some snooping, and figures out the present-day mayor (Marco St. John) did it.
Episode Named After: The great Elvis Presley song "Suspicious Minds" — the greatest, in my opinion. Written and first recorded by Mark James, "Suspicious Minds" was released in 1969 and was Elvis' last #1 song in the U.S. Elvis recorded it, "In the Ghetto," and "Kentucky Rain" in his "Memphis sessions" with Chips Moman at American Sound Studio. Thematically, the song, about a troubled relationship full of doubt, is perfectly matched to several episode plots, including a strained marriage, a police officer considering taking a bribe, and a son wondering if his dad was the stand-up guy he always thought he was.
Rowdy Memphis (Plot synopsis): Detective Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee) testifies during a criminal case about an altercation at a toy store. A pretty defense attorney — and instant love interest for Dwight — grills him on the stand, but Hendricks wins out with a speech about how he grew up knowing there's a right way to treat folks. The jury nods in agreement. Defendant: Guilty.
After the credits, we see Dwight's mom (Celia Weston) and her beau, Tony (Daniel Hugh Kelly), smoking a joint behind a moonbounce at Tony's birthday party in a park. A Beechcraft airplane emergency lands on the grassy strip of the park — but there's no one inside flying it. Whitehead (Sam Hennings) thinks it must be a "ghost plane." An Air Force officer and FAA liaison shows up to help investigate and sparks up a flirtatious relationship with Lieutenant Rice (Alfre Woodard). The investigation leads to a missing couple, the Oneys, who recently won $82 million in the lottery. Suspects include the son, an ex-brother-in-law, and then Mr. Oney (Andrew Sensenig) himself. Turns out, the Oneys didn't really win the lottery, they just said they did so they could glom some free stuff and get credit with businesses and friends. Mr. Oney was an inventor who needed money for a patent. His wife supported him, to the detriment of the rest of her family, and, when she was about to leave him and expose the lotto fraud, he killed her.
Memphis Beat, "Run On"
Originally Aired July 27, 2010
Plot Synopsis: Nice opening as we see fingers hit "A3" on a jukebox then reach for a beer as the percussive opening of Sam & Dave's "I Thank You" starts. It's Officer Sutton (DJ Qualls), who begins singing along and is soon joined by colleagues Detective Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee), Whitehead (Sam Hennings), and Greenback (Leonard Earl Howze).
A drunken sing-along leads to roughhousing shenanigans which leads to a bar fight with civilians, whom our heroes polish off before returning to their Sam & Dave. Off-duty cops beating up people in bars. Just another fun Memphis night.
Memphis Beat, "One Night of Sin"
Originally Aired July 20, 2010
Disappointingly, this was probably the least "Memphis-y" episode of Memphis Beat yet, and since that's what we care about here, this recap will be shorter than most.original version, is a gloriously hung-over 1956 New Orleans R&B gem from Smiley Lewis. Elvis Presley recorded it a couple of years later, both in Lewis' version (which you can hear on the compilation Rockin' Bones: 1950s Punk and Rockabilly) and in a cleaned-up version. Elvis' altered "One Night" ("with you" replacing "of sin") was released in 1958 on a single opposite " I Got Stung," hitting #4 on the pop chart and #10 on the R&B chart. Elvis later did a killer version of the song on this 1968 "comeback" special for NBC.
Plot Synopsis: Detective Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee) and his mama (Celia Weston) are attending a public memorial service for Memphis music legend Darlene "Ma" Boswell. There, the remaining members of the performing Boswell family — husband Doc and daughters Sadie and Delilah — perform a bluegrass-inflected tune and manager Frank Dixon delivers a eulogy.
Afterward, while Dwight is doing a man-on-the-street interview with a documentary filmmaker, Dixon is found dead behind the theatre where the memorial service was held, having fallen from the building's third-floor balcony. Lt. Rice (Alfre Woodard) suspects grief-based suicide but Dwight's advanced detecting skills lead him to assume foul play.
As Dwight sifts through multiple suspects, including a "super fan" played by guest star Giovanni Ribisi, a "B" plot about partner Whitehead's inappropriate tall tales on the job doesn't go much of anywhere.
Memphis Beat, "Polk Salad Annie"
Originally Aired July 13, 2010
I'm taking the baton from previous Memphis Beat re-capper Greg Akers this week. We'll probably be alternating — or something close to it — the rest of the way.
Rowdy Memphis (Plot Synopsis): Detective Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee) and fellow officers Whitehead (Sam Hennings), Lightfoot (Abraham Benrubi), and Greenback (Leonard Earl Howze) chow down on several platters of ribs at Fat Red's Barbecue, where Greenback draws a standing ovation for his rousing takedown of a man attempting to rob the restaurant.
Back at the station, Lt. Rice (Alfre Woodard) readies her charges for the influx of tourists at the annual "Beale Street Barbecue Festival." This week's mystery gets underway when Fat Red ends up stabbed in the stomach during the contest. The initial suspect is hog farmer Bryce Harper, a former supplier with whom Red had severed ties. It turns out Harper has made an attempt on Fat Red's life, but not this time. A dispute between Fat Red and his sister Analise (Sing All Kinds favorite Melanie Lynskey guest stars) over a $20,000 order from Harper puts Analise under suspicion, and officer Sutton (DJ Qualls) is mic'ed-up and sent undercover to romance Analise at a Beale Street club in search of information. After revealing a conflict over the future of the restaurant, Analise hires Sutton to finish the job on her brother and, with Fat Red's help, Dwight and crew attempt to ensnare Analise in the murder plot. But Fat Red breaks character, leading to comic sibling-rivalry hijinks, a car chase, and Sutton having to use his downhome wisdom to talk the volatile couple down. Meanwhile, Lt. Rice is having trouble with one of her sons, who finds himself down at the police station for all the wrong reasons, and Dwight has decided to let his smokin' hot ex-wife Alex (Sunny Mabry) "stand on her own two feet."
Episode Named After: The Elvis song, which hit #1 on the Billboard charts in November 1956. The song also lends its name to the film featuring Elvis' acting debut. Presley debuted the song on his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in September 1956.
Rowdy Memphis (Plot Synopsis): A man wants to kill himself by jumping off the top of a building downtown. Officer Sutton (DJ Qualls) tries to talk him down, and Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee) reasons with the man, who has woman troubles. Dwight gets some breakfast to go at The Arcade. Lightfoot (Abraham Benrubi) has wife troubles.
This week's mystery surrounds a missing Miss Southern Appeal. Ivy is a 17-year-old beauty contestant who has been working toward the Miss Southern Appeal pageant "all her life." Whitehead (Sam Hennings) says, "A rich girl lost in this city: never a good thing." The pageant owner's son Jimmy Masterson is a creepy guy and a suspect. Dwight's ex-wife Alex (Sunny Mabrey) is working toward opening a catering business, and Dwight helps out by getting her a gig at the police station. Masterson turns out to just be a drunk. The investigation leads to Kate Caldwell, Miss Bluff City, an enemy of Ivy's. Caldwell says Ivy had been fighting with her parents. When confronted, the Hatchers tell an unlikely story. Ivy's been hanging out at a biker bar called Bic's. Ivy's sister decodes Ivy's diary, which reveals abuses her parents inflicted on her. Caldwell is interrogated for more information; Caldwell quotes Ovid, and Whitehead quotes back Johnny Cash. Dwight figures out Ivy is pregnant. Her boyfriend is an employee at Bic's. Dwight does the right thing again. Ivy and her boyfriend were just getting set to run off together, to escape Ivy's parents. Dwight helps that happen. Lightfoot presses charges against his wife because she stabbed him.
Episode Named After: Elvis' Sun Records cover song of the Arthur Gunter original. Elvis' version hit #5 on the Billboard Country Singles chart in July 1955.
Plot Synopsis: Dwight (Jason Lee) sniffs out some graffiti artists just by staring them down — he's a crime whisperer or like the guy in The Mentalist. Alex (Sunny Mabrey) is introduced as Dwight's ex-wife with benefits. Dwight and Whitehead (Sam Hennings) straighten out some fighting youths and check out one of the boys' strange tale about a daddy kidnapped by terrorists. The boy's mom, Cleo (special guest star Juliette Lewis), plays dumb but the truth comes out in dribs and drabs. Dwight joins his mom and her neighbor on a date. Dwight's dad is revealed to have been a Memphis police officer. Whitehead reveals his thespian proclivities. Dwight plays "Baby, Let's Play House" alone on his couch.
Is this what Memphis is? Memphis Beat thinks so. The show, premiering tonight on TNT at 9 p.m. and airing on Tuesdays throughout the summer, embraces these associations. The extent to which you, as a Memphian, or you, as a neophyte, can live with the portrayal will determine the level of your enjoyment. (By the way, look for Chris Herrington’s Flyer cover story, out tomorrow, about the city from Mystery Train to Memphis Beat.)
Based solely on the pilot, titled “That’s Alright, Mama,” the show is a failure on multiple levels and a success on others. Jason Lee (My Name is Earl) stars as Memphis police detective Dwight Hendricks, an unconventional investigator who performs hometown songs for big crowds at night. His day and nighttime jobs are full of one thing: love for Memphis.
So, in advance of tonight's multi-hour series finale event, why not toss out a last batch of Lost predictions which will be proved hilariously wrong soon enough. This gets the usual spoiler alert: I never read what other people think is going to happen, so these stupid ideas are my own and not based upon anyone else's more informed guesses. If you've never watched the show, the following will read like gobbledygook produced by a noun generator.
St. Agnes (Red)
Julia, Junior (Captain)
Malcolm, Senior (Captain)
The Game: Though low-scoring, the contest was close and certainly in contention until the end. Neither team was proficient with bonuses (St. Agnes 2 for 9, Craigmont 0 for 9) but made up for it with efficient toss-up answering in the first two rounds. The Lightning Round saw more missed questions, but certainly Craigmont was playing catch up and feeling the need to buzz in even when they didn't know the answer.
St. Agnes advances to play the winner of St. Mary's/Munford.
For the Record: I picked St. Agnes over Ripley, who was originally slated for this game instead of Craigmont.
I could say "Spoiler Alert," but unless you watch the show, you're not going to have the first clue what I'm talking about. And please note that I don't read stuff online about the show ever, because I don't want to know anything in advance. So these theories are entirely my own and in no way informed by what might actually happen. They are, in fact, likely comically wrong.
I welcome all comments and discussion. Lost is on tonight! The excitement cannot be contained!
Last Lost List of Lust (Lest You Forget):
Okay, apparently I was one of the few Americans who didn't tune into the Hope For Haiti Now telethon last Friday night. I admit that after my mother called the next day, to rave about Justin Timberlake's version of Leonard Cohen-by-way-of-Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah," I resisted checking out the video on YouTube. Today, I finally watched. Wow! Timberlake and up-and-comer Matt Morris — who I remember performing with the Bo-Keys at the Cooper-Young Festival a few years back — really did it justice. Watch, listen, and be sure to donate.
Knowledge Bowl, Match 10. St. Benedict at Auburndale Eagles vs. Arlington Tigers. Aired January 2nd, 2010.
Round One: St. Benedict 170, Arlington 60
Round Two: St. Benedict 80, Arlington 140
Round Three (Lightning Round): St. Benedict 40, Arlington 40
Final: St. Benedict 290, Arlington 240
The Game: St. Benedict against Arlington made for the second-best match this season (behind Marion/FACS). St. Benedict streaked ahead in the first round, withstood a furious comeback in the second, and played Arlington to a statistical tie in the third to win the thing. Though St. B. registered a 50-point margin of victory, the decision remained very much in doubt throughout.