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RUNNING TIME 792 Minutes
The everyday trials and tribulations of Detroit’s homicide unit.
Stephen Poliakoff (director), Michael Imperioli, Jon Michael Hill, Aisha Hinds, Natalie Martinez, James McDaniel, Shawn Majumber and D.J. Catrona
An above average homicide show that got lost in during timeslots dedicated to much higher rated competition.
While having great bookending episodes, the show settles into a by the number mediocre show for the majority of the run. I have a feeling the show could have broken out into something much better if it had a much needed second season.
The premise is a typical homicide department ensemble show with one of the most diverse casts on broadcast TV. Set against the backdrop of the poverty ridden and highly volatile inner city Detroit, it settles in an area with one of the highest murder rates in the US. There are essentially 3 teams of detectives with varying degrees of seniority and skill.
Obviously with the big central photo on the cover art, former Sopranos star Michael Imperioli is the star of the show. He is a quirky, seasoned master detective that has the best close rate in the precinct. He doesn’t play well with others but does his job by having charisma with the criminals when needed, but is also smarter than everyone else in the room most of the time.
The cast varies with acting skill in almost direct correlation with investigative abilities. More impressive due to the fact minorities are the majority in the cast with 1 Asian, 2 Hispanics, 3 African Americans and 1 Italian. This was a show that fell through the cracks of Hollywood white washing. The rest of the supporting characters happen to be white women.
Even though they do well to utilize such a range of ethnicities, a bunch of stereotypes still prevail. James McDaniel appears to be mimicking Danny Glover as the old black cop that often comes within a breath of mumbling “I’m too old for this shit”. D.J. Cotrona lives up to his namesake and looks and sometimes acts like he is someone just kicked out of a boy band because they got too old. Natalie Martinez plays a Latina with a hard exterior and a soft interior. To make the show interesting she is the object of desire between the single cops on the force who want a relationship. She seems to enjoy dating coworkers as she winds up with one accidentally and desires another. Doesn’t she know dating at work is dangerous? Sometimes it works, but sometimes it destroys careers. Top it off with the stern black captain who has a slight temper(even though female) and you wind up with an eclectic mix of recycled characters in a show that could have been so much more.
Imperioli’s Finch has an incredibly large story arc which takes the show out of believable quite a bit. It is this fact that I believe Detroit 187 didn’t get a second season. Not enough Matlock/Shield to make it exist out of reality and not enough realism to make it a true crime show. What makes this even worse is that his, and many of the other story arcs, only happen in the bookend episodes of the show. The middle episodes play as stale by the number murder, evidence and arrest stories that barely even touch on the character development.
Due to the lack of progressing story arcs, the characters do have a certain chemistry that gets established as they work the crimes. The way they communicate, investigate and even run down the criminals who never just give up helps to display the dynamic of the teams, the rookie(Jon Michael Hill) and master with Imperioli, the best friends with McDaniel and Shaun Majumder and the lovers in disguise with Martinez and Cotrona. The pairs work very effectively and only struggle in performance terms with the weaker stories often pursued by McDaniel and Majumber.
Some of the subtleties in the performances really standout, such as the little things that Martinez often does that leaves her in the middle of a work/love triangle. Some of them such as the coroner, are well over acted while she hopelessly throws herself at Majumber. Often considered to be one of the strongest actors in the series is Aisha Hinds, who commands respect while showing she cares about the about the social impact of her squad.
Detroit 187 brings in the heavy plots at the end with the introduction of new characters, played by the always great Tommy Flanagan and Michael Imperioli’s son Vadim Imperioli while introducing the grim reaper to the unit. If the show had taken more similar risks earlier into the season it may have found the much needed viewers and ratings to keep it going. What it wound up with was a better than average homicide series that will go largely undiscovered.
ABC should be ashamed of itself. It continues to pump out the DVDs without including a single special feature. Talk about pure apathy towards attracting additional viewings or attracting new customers.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars