‘Detroit 1-8-7’ (ABC – Tuesdays, 10:00 p.m.)

In this ABC crime drama project, a fictional documentary filmmaking crew goes inside Detroit’s homicide division. – ABC

The Preview (originally posted on 9/15/2010):

Shawn:     “Once in a generation, a cop show comes along that re-writes the rules.” 

That is seriously said in the voice-over at the beginning of this trailer.  It may be true, but that show was The Shield, not Detroit 1-8-7 (which sounds more like a the title of an N.W.A. album than it does a dramatic television series).  Sorry, but this show re-writes nothing.  It’s the epitome of why I don’t watch formulaic cop shows anymore.  It’s all the same thing but this one is trying to be clever by combining the rawness and the grittiness of The Wire and to an extent Homicide: Life on the Street and the pseudo-documentary style of… The Office.  That’s right, The Office.  The difference is that The Office actually is consistently shot like a documentary.  The style of this show is all over the place.  I’m sorry, but if you want to convince us that the show is being shot by a documentary camera crew, your shots cannot include shots only possible if filmed while a cameraman is sitting on the hood of a moving car (that’s in the trailer). 

Beyond, that, though Detroit 1-8-7 doesn’t look awful, it just looks ordinary and typical.  I’ve seen this cop show before, and I can tell I’m not alone in thinking this way.  

This is from 1-8-7’s Official Page

“The detectives are well-developed and easy to follow… There are relationships worth investing in.”

– Mekeisha Madden Toby, Detroit News 

“…promises to be a mighty fine ride…smartly cast urban crime drama’s gutsy, gritty allure.”

– Matt Roush, TV Guide 

First, notice the ellipses that permeate both quotes like bullet-holes, indicating that ABC cut a lot out.  Second, knowing that, this is really the best ABC could come up with to promote critical acclaim for the show?  Seriously, that Matt Roush quote is just embarrassing, but honestly, I really don’t expect much from him anymore.  I think he just has too much on his plate so unless he really likes something a lot, he just whips out the TV reviewer’s thesaurus and gives us “mighty fine ride,” “smartly cast (which is kind of like sensible shoes),” “gutsy” and “gritty.”  As far as Makeisha Madden Toby is concerned, I think she got the memo that if you write for a Detroit Newspaper and live in L.A., it’s in your better interest to be pleasant when discussing a drama set in the city you don’t live in but is responsible for your paychecks.  I’m sorry, but, “The detectives are well-developed and easy to follow…” and “There are relationships worth investing in,” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.  

I’m sorry but there’s just too much good TV this Fall for me to waste my time with this.  I may catch the pilot or an occasional episode, but this isn’t appointment television by an 8-mile. 

The Review:

7 out of 10

Shawn:     Well,  I was right but I was wrong about Detroit 1-8-7.  It certainly is a typical cop procedural but despite all of that… it’s actually pretty good. 

As noted in the preview, I went into this highly skeptical and expected D187 to do everything I predicted it would and fail because of that and although it was entirely as I predicted the shocking part was that despite all of that, it didn’t fail (completely).  Like all cop procedurals, it takes its style from shows that have come before it and in particular the ones that I mentioned, but more than anything D187 takes after NYPD: Blue… ridiculously.  I mean seriously, if you didn’t know what show this was, you’d be waiting for Dennis Franz to show you his backside.

As I watched the pilot it was literally like being on a roller coaster and I almost got sick.  The opening 15 minutes were so clichéd that if my eyes rolled any further, I would have seen my own brain.  But then something miraculous happened:  the story started unfolding and it was actually pretty compelling.  But of course, just when it starts getting good they went back to the old procedural standbys and ruin it but then a few minutes later it starts getting compelling again and then during the climax scene of the police stand-off and hostage negotiation situation, it goes right back to being every other dopey cop show. 

“I’m going in there to try to talk to the guy who’s already killed 4 people in 24 hours without a bullet proof vest… and you can’t stop me,” and then what does Detective Louis Fitch (Michael Imperioli – The Sopranos, The Lovely Bones) do?  He walks in there and tells this psychopath who’s about to kill himself and his kids in a murder/suicide about his own feelings of wanting to “end it all” but he looks at the picture of his own kids and it makes him want to fight on… and of course, that tactic WORKS!  I know that was technically a spoiler but it’s not enough to justify a “spoiler alert” because it’s nothing new.  Anyone who’s ever seen a cop show or movie in the last 20 years where there was a stand-off/hostage situation has seen this. 

For a frame of reference on how a Detroit cop should handle all hostage situation and life imperiling situations, I refer you this lovely video (ignore the title… there’s nothing “X-Rated” about it… it’s on YouTube for goodness’ sake.): 

I’m not particularly impressed with any of these characters at this point who, as noted are pretty clichéd, and their interactions with each other lacks chemistry.  The dialog between them isn’t particularly impressive either, however that can become stronger over time and considering that D187 does have a pretty good cast, I expect the chemistry to improve.  Unlike Miss Madden Toby, however, I haven’t seen anything thus far that makes me believe that “there are relationships worth investing in,” I’m just going on gut instinct because for a show that has as much potential as D187 does, it’s simply impossible for me to comprehend that the character interaction will remain as weak as it has been thus far. 

They really need to give up on this pseudo-documentary thing that they stole from Southland (much more than The Office) because the angles (as I noted in the preview) aren’t working and they aren’t convincing anyone.  One of the things that I do appreciate about this is that people from the streets of Detroit actually talk like they are from the streets of Detroit and they drop the f-bomb and other profanities.  Now, obviously this is on ABC, so we don’t actually hear it but this time they took a good page out of the book of Southland which I’m impressed with and that was by putting the profanity in there but “beeping” it out so that we still know what was said.  It’s not that I particularly like filthy language, but I like realism and no street thugs talk the way in real life like the way that they do on TV.

I really hate admitting this but D187 is actually a pretty good procedural.  Like I said, it was definitely a stomach churning roller coaster that went from stupid to great to really stupid throughout but what’s good is really good there is a huge twist at the end of the pilot that convinced me to set the DVR to “Record Entire Series.”  If an episode ends with me wanting to know what happens next, I really have no choice but to program accordingly. 

Watch full episodes of Detroit 1-8-7, here and here.

2 comments on “‘Detroit 1-8-7’ (ABC – Tuesdays, 10:00 p.m.)

  1. Pingback: ABC Cancels V, Brothers And Sisters & 5 Rookie Shows, Renews Body of Proof, Happy Endings, Picks Up Charlie’s Angels, More… | TV-Tastic

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.