Cheers to Memphis Beat for getting into the right rhythm for Season 2.
Want more Cheers & Jeers? Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!
When Jason Lee's TNT crime dramedy debuted, it felt like a half-baked mismash: My Name is Earl, the Singing Detective. Since returning earlier this summer, the show has found its voice, and this week's episode, "The Things We Carry," hit a new high note. Lee's Tennessee cop traveled to New Orleans — where Memphis is actually filmed — with his mother (Celia Weston, Cam's Modern Family mama) to visit the man who murdered his policeman dad. The terminally ill inmate was played by the remarkable Red West, a former stuntman, Elvis Presley bodyguard and member of the King's "Memphis Mafia," lending the episode instant credibility and poignance.
In a slightly less compelling subplot, Dwight's boss, Lt. Tanya Rice (Alfre Woodard, who's being put to better use this season), investigated a suspicious fire at an historic Memphis moviehouse owned by a couple of Elvis memorabilia collectors ('80s movie stars Michael Pare and Chelsea Field). As Southern-fried TV dramas go, Memphis Beat is still a long way from, say, Treme, but with standout episodes with this one, you can't help falling in love with it.