Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Detroit 1-8-7 too smart for stereotypes

I watched the opening episode of Detroit 1-8-7, the first prime time crime show (on ABC) shot (hmm, bad pun) in the Motor City. Of course there have been gobs of anticipation for this. Detroit in a starring role on a national TV show? Would this be another example of the big media showing the worst of a city with an already horrendous reputation? Detroiters were anxious yet basking in the glow of television’s big time.....I’m not a TV crime show watcher (not much of a TV watcher at all, in fact). But Detroit 1-8-7 refreshingly portrayed Detroit not at its worse but in a somewhat refreshing way. Detroit is Detroit, and it’s not one of the prettiest urban landscapes (despite my love for it). That said, the outdoor scenes (and there were a lot of them shot largely by hand held camera and quick cuts  reminiscent of Hill Street Blues) showed off various dimensions of the city. I even commented to a friend: “This makes Detroit look pretty good.” There were many scenes of relatively decent neighbourhoods and one in an a trendy coffee shop (which “used to be a porno shop” commented Det. Louis Fitch (Michael Imperioli - The Sopranos, Law & Order, Goodfellas, The Basketball Diaries)). The fact much of the pilot was shot in Atlanta accounted for some of the places I clearly did not recognize. The police staff was multi-racial and ethnic, again dispelling stereotypes. One got the sense that not everyone in Detroit is poor, a criminal or destitute – that people actually work and play and enjoy living in the urban surroundings. In fact, the 11 pm news afterwards – with crime-laden stories – brought me back to the “real” Detroit. Hopefully this wasn’t a first episode attempt to mollify a skeptical home town audience and the show in future will depict only the worst of the worst. But I think the production team is too smart for that.....Acting was also pretty good with Natalie Martinez as Det. Ariana Sanchez and Aisha Hinds as Lt. Maureen Mason.

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