E: Have I mentioned that the music on Memphis Beat is fantastic? First off, it’s not as Elvisy as I feared. There’s rich, gorgeous, well made stuff. And the credits? Seriously, I think they’ve got the best credit sequence in the biz. Alfre Woodard written on a coaster? Abraham Benrubi’s name scrawled on the back of a classic car? That’s some seriously good stuff.
The show itself is pretty good, too. This week’s episode features Juliette Lewis (which would have been a draw back in the past, but instead turned out to be a bonus), lies, lies and more lies. And our hero sees through them all. I’ve been hoping for a fun scripted summer series, and this is looking like it.
M: In the second episode of this season of Top Chef we quickly moved from the challenges being centered around introducing the contestants, to our usual Top Chef challenges incorporating the host city, and some neat twists. In the quickfire challenge it was once again confirmed who the early favorites are, while in the elimination challenge it was VERY clearly defined who the season’s villain is.
E: Ugh. Sooooooo obvious.
M: Find out who’s who after the jump! Continue reading
E: Well, that’s not how I thought that was going to go.
It’s not looking good for the girls this season, is it? And okay, I know the male contestants generally have done better (winning 4 out of 6 seasons) and that in this season’s crop the buzz about the finalists has been very clearly male. But when the contestants who performed the best end up in the bottom three, you have to ask yourself. Can the carnage end? Perky-cute Ashley and Lauren escape the bottom once more, but that’s all that can be said for the ladies.
E: I find that the second performance show is always a bit of a disappointment. The first week, even though they claim that the styles are chosen randomly, they usually make sure people end up somewhere they can shine. They ease everyone in. But in the second week, eh, not so much with the easing. And that’s when we had partnerships to invest in. So was this season’s lack luster second performance episode a case of the typical second week let down, or is it something more, like a failure of the All Star system? I don’t know.
What I do know is this. Nobody knocked my socks off this week, and I’m kind of used to these dancers knocking my socks off.
We started off with a montage of baby pictures (wee Alex had pinch-me cheeks!) and Cat in a white sheath with feathers at the hem and neck. I’m also extremely happy to report that we get to see the dancers entire bodies during their solos. There’s no switching of angles every 2 seconds; we get a moment from the waist up, then a full body shot. It’s a delight and a relief. I’d say they listened to all the criticism from last week, but I’m sure all they really had to do was watch the show back. Speaking of differences from last week, we also get to see the dancers pick their partner’s name out of a hat. Boys pull out a pink card, girls blue, and the All Star they choose tells them their style. Hmmm. Some of these are going to be easy, and some of them will be hard. But this time we can essentially see that there was a hat and that people did pick out of it.
E: Amber liquid sloshes in a highball glass. Dark hair slicks back over a forehead. Golden light flickers over speakers, a guitar, a stage. The blues wail. How many music cliches can we get in the first 15 seconds of a show? Quite a few, it seems. During the opening shots of Memphis Beat, the show worked overtime to give us a bluesy Memphis vibe. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce Jason Lee, on stage for perhaps the first time since Almost Famous.
The scene shifts abruptly from gold to blue as the singer – Detective Dwight Hendricks – strides through a rain-slicked parking lot into a ramshackle minimart. There’s blue slushy slipped on a white floor, splashed next to the blood of the dead cashier. He’s not just a singer, folks; he can also take to task hayseed cop Sutton (DJ Qualls), who’s been tracking slushy all over the store and mistaking it for evidence. And he can locate the murderer, a tiny tattooed dude in a wifebeater hiding inside a cabinet, as if by magic.
To begin with, I wasn’t sure if I liked Dwight Hendricks or Memphis Beat – both of them seemed a little too convicted of their own cleverness – but you know, I think by the end they sold me.