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Detroit 1-8-7 Season 1

DVD

List Price: CDN$ 29.95
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

Finding an audience for a new network-TV cop show has always been an upstream swim, and it gets harder every season to hook an audience with the right combination of character study and police procedural. Detroit 1-8-7 very nearly clicked, but ABC pulled its plug after one season when its battle against the current of ratings and critical opinion drowned the show. It's too bad there wasn't more time for Detroit 1-8-7 to settle into its own, because there's plenty to like in this 18-episode package. The concept started as a fake ride-along reality show with the homicide squad of an inner-city precinct in crumbling downtown Detroit. ABC scuttled the premise (though there are a few leftovers of what the style might have been in the first two episodes) and redirected the format into an old-school, gritty, tough-talking profile of the detectives, the grisly murders they clean up, and the messy personal lives that intertwine with the job. The jittery, kinetic, handheld style that's become pretty much the standard of modern cop shows is employed efficiently in bringing Detroit to life. The show was filmed on location and uses the blighted city's urban decay to great effect, making Detroit a primary character in itself. The other star of Detroit 1-8-7 is Michael Imperioli as Det. Louis Fitch, a grizzled veteran with a 1,000-yard stare and a knack for police work that is clearly his only interest in life. The show largely is Imperioli and it wouldn't even have lasted as long as it did without his authoritative presence and charismatic influence. There's a mystery behind Fitch that worms its way through the season. It's a secret he's carrying that drove him out of New York, where he first drew accolades as an uncompromising cop with morals of steel and a will to win. In fact each character has a thematic arc that stretches across all 18 episodes, some of which are intermingled. Second to Imperioli in making the show crackle is James McDaniel, who brings the cred of his years playing Lt. Fancy on NYPD Blue (the show to which this and all other aspiring cop dramas bow down) as the lifer looking forward to retirement with excitement and trepidation. Fitch's new partner is a rookie detective named Washington (Jon Michael Hill) who often suffers the brunt of Fitch's cranky moods (he also has the bad luck to get shot on his first day). The squad is rounded out by the beautiful, tough-as-nails Det. Sanchez (Natalie Martinez); Det. Stone (D.J. Cotrona), a hunky ex-narcotics officer who's carrying a bounty on his head; the suave, womanizing Indian-American Det. Mahajan (Shaun Majumder); and Lt. Maureen Mason (Aisha Hinds), the boss who runs her squad with firm, convincing expertise. The very nature of the cop show configuration brings a stocklike quality to ensembles that really can't be helped. But the acting and interaction here is of a consistently high quality and the scripts back them up with plausible crime-scene scenarios. The show is also improved by the kind of personal asides that augment character development without intruding on the kind of realism Detroit 1-8-7 is trying to capture. In addition to the scored musical cues, the episodes are packed with pop songs that are heavy on soul, contemporary rock, and classic R&B, also adding to the urgent sense of street-wise. The DVD package is completely bare bones with no special features or commentary tracks. Fortunately, the episodes speak for themselves, both individually and as a collection that tells the compelling and believable story of a cop shop and its grey-shaded shopkeepers. As a final aside, Detroit 1-8-7 is one of those shows that suffers more than most from the strictures of network standards and practices and the FCC. Because the production is so vibrantly realistic, it rings more glaringly false when the dialogue is limited to TV-approved bad words. The only thing that sometimes feels disingenuous about these cops and criminals is the way they talk. Who knows how Detroit 1-8-7 could have flourished if it had found a home on cable? --Ted Fry

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