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Herc Says ABC’s DETROIT 1-8-7 Does Not Have His Number!!

I am – Hercules!!

 A poor and derivative crime drama from writer Jason Richman (“Swing Vote”), “Detroit 1-8-7” stars Michael Imperioli (“Life On Mars”) as veteran Detroit homicide detective breaking in a rookie cop. (187 is cop code for “homicide.”)

Zeus knows there are so many TV crime dramas it can be challenging find some way to find an original angle, but cops shows like “The Wire” and “Justfied” demonstrate it’s still possible.

And “1-8-7,” even as it accumulates an improbable amount of unrealistic behavior, just piles up into a mountain of cop-show clichés:

* Veteran detective dislikes his new super-enthusiastic partner.

* Rookie detective vomits at site of murder scene. (Even though the rookie has apparently been a policeman for some time.)

* Minority detective scolds fellow cop for not demonstrating more compassion for victim.

* Cop is mortally wounded on what is purported to be the happiest day of his life.

Some scenes are as silly as ones you’d find in “Reno 911,” without benefit of being funny. At one point a detective fails to pat down a captured suspect, then cuffs the suspect to a children’s slide so the detective can take a phone call. It’s all in service of a gag a 7-year-old could see coming a mile away.

Another scene has Imperioli’s character exacting a confession from a captured suspect who already requested a lawyer. The detective does this just by sitting in an interrogation room and staring at him.

Close to the end of the pilot, Imperioli’s character decides to discuss his own personal issues with a gunman during a hostage situation. I’d swear I saw virtually the identical device used in the pilot for Fox’s “Standoff” a couple years ago. (It sucked then too.) 

The Washington Post says:

… As Detective Louis Fitch of the Detroit police force, Imperioli harbors the broodingly potent power he displayed in "The Sopranos," but there's also a world-weariness to his characterization that could be mistaken for an actor's boredom with lame scripts -- and a sense the show is heading for a brick wall. … comes across, despite the strong performances, as wan and halfhearted. …

TV Squad says:

… 'Sopranos' veteran Michael Imperioli, shorn of the majestic mustache he sported in 'Life on Mars,' is the only good thing about this otherwise unimpressive and derivative police procedural about detectives in the Motor City. …

The New York Times says:

On “Detroit 1-8-7,” Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos”) plays a crabby, burned-out homicide detective. And that’s pretty much it. …

The Los Angeles Times says:

… very much a slab of TV …

HitFix says:

… The original pilot felt a bit like a 21st century version of "Homicide," focusing more on the cops than the cases, where the new version - particularly the second episode, which was filmed after the docu concept was ditched (where the final version of the pilot still has weird traces of it) - feels more generic, even with the Detroit location filming. …

USA Today says:

… A rock-solid, back-to-basics drama about a dedicated group of homicide detectives …

The San Francisco Chronicle says:

… While the cop genre is all but played out, "Detroit 1-8-7" is stylish and acceptably rough-hewn enough to make it worth your while. It's visually interesting, keeps several storylines spinning at once and has an agreeable cast. Sometimes all you need is a good cop show, no matter how familiar. …

The Boston Herald says:

… isn’t a great show - yet. But this ABC drama about a homicide squad (“1-8-7” is street slang for murder) in one of the nation’s most crime-ridden cities could prove to be a worthy successor to the network’s now classic “NYPD Blue.” … “Detroit’s” on-location shooting aids its authenticity, but the show goes awry when it goes for a joke. For example, medical examiner Abbey Ward (Erin Cummings, “Mad Men”) carries bruises from her after-hours avocation: roller derby. “Detroit 1-8-7” is one of those shows that is going to need some time to finds its destination.

The Boston Globe says:

… just may have enough forward thrust and raw emotion to take off. On the downside, the show relies on all the inner-city crime-show moves we’ve seen a million times before. …

The Hollywood Reporter says:

… The jury still is out on "1-8-7" after its entertaining but flawed premiere. There's a fine show in there somewhere, and landing Michael Imperioli as an enigmatic lead certainly helps, but it smacks of trying too hard and appears desperate to be compared to the king of the subgenre, "Homicide: Life on the Street." …

Variety says:

… emerges as a spare but undistinguished, by-the-book copshow … plays like a pretty straightforward procedural -- similar in tone to "Homicide," including one profane (and frequently bleeped) interview with a hostile witness. It's not bad, but it initially looks relatively uninspired next to TV's best copshows, including current entries such as TNT's "Southland."

9 p.m. Tuesday. ABC.

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Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 21, 2010, 2:16 p.m. CST

    The cast is what will have me watching this show

    by jim

    The execution is what will make me keep coming back (or not).

  • Sept. 21, 2010, 2:18 p.m. CST

    NCIS is going to KILL this.

    by RPLocke

  • Sept. 21, 2010, 2:35 p.m. CST

    187 IS NOT cop code

    by NotZombies

    187 is only the penal code for homicide in California. After the rise of the California gangster rap scene, it became popular amongst gangs in other states, but police certainly wouldn't use the code. It's a stupid oversight and probably indicative of the level of intelligence of the show itself.

  • Sept. 21, 2010, 3:05 p.m. CST

    Growing up in the Detroit area, I'll be curious

    by skimn

    to see the location shooting. I understand its all being filmed in Detroit, unlike shows that do pick ups and film the rest in LA. Maybe I'll spot my Moms bar "Jeans Lounge" thats in Hamtramck...But this better stand out or it'll be gone by November.

  • Sept. 21, 2010, 3:24 p.m. CST

    ABC needs to give up on the Cop Shows and Procedurals...

    by Mr. Profit

    CBS has everyone beat. It's funny that no matter how hard they try, they can't seem to crack it. What was their last good cop show? NYPD Blue? With their female skewing audience, you would think they would have already had a show like "The Closer" or "Rizoli and Isles" on their schedule... But nope.

  • Sept. 21, 2010, 3:53 p.m. CST

    Looks very generic

    by Screwbini

    I like the cast, but the promo really doesn't spark my interest in seeing the show.

  • Sept. 21, 2010, 4:47 p.m. CST

    Is Herc's number 867-5309?

    by jim

    Oh, no, wait, that's Jenny's number. Never mind.

  • Sept. 21, 2010, 5:08 p.m. CST

    Surely Imperioli deserves: (The Sopranos)

    by theGoldbergV

    rather than life on mars after his name. Thats like writing about George Clooney and citing the fucking Revenge of the Killer Tomatoes

  • Sept. 21, 2010, 6:19 p.m. CST

    I hope it lasts at least 6 episodes ...

    by Itchy

    because I'm in the background of a critical arrest scene they were filming outside a restaurant in the 6th episode. Look for the fat dude heading into to Slow's BBQ to get a pulled pork sandwich with slaw. Well, that really ain't going to help - there were a crowd of us that day.

  • Sept. 21, 2010, 6:44 p.m. CST

    Thats the FIRST thing I thought Goldberg


    Life on Mars over The Sopranos? Seriously? Either a stupid oversite or a bitch move on Herc's part. Im going with bitch move. Herc yous a bitch.

  • Sept. 21, 2010, 9:45 p.m. CST

    Best ever cop show is Hill Street Blues.

    by RPLocke

  • Sept. 21, 2010, 10:42 p.m. CST

    So, are you telling me...

    by rabidfnark

    that the cop working his last day before retirement lived?

  • Sept. 21, 2010, 10:45 p.m. CST

    The best ever cop shop

    by Dancingforever

    Was cop rock, that's not debatable. I remember tripping acid and watching it ever week, for what seemed like only a few glorious weeks. The problem with these shows, the wire included, is that the criminal element is always far more compelling than the cops twisted cliche lives. If you make a show called Detroit 187, why not make it about the criminals of Detroit, there's a rich history there. Being a native of the area, I would love to see an old school take period piece with the purple gang featured, or you could go fairly recent with the story of YBI. I assure you that would be far more interesting than another tired formulamatic cap drama.

  • Sept. 22, 2010, 4:09 a.m. CST

    imperioli deserves better

    by brabon300

    everything about this show is wrong, starting with the title<p>thing is, because of the detroit economy, i hope the show makes they will be filming there<p>but as noted above, detroit has alot of good crime stories to use...too bad it seems the writers are too lazy to do even the simplest of research

  • Sept. 22, 2010, 6:14 a.m. CST

    The entire city of Detroit is one big

    by Itchy

    cop show .... crooked politicians running a desolate wasteland filled of losers, idiots, miscreants and welfare scammers. It's almost impossible to make a BAD cop drama here. Yet somehow they seem to be doing it. Hope the show gets better - there's certainly no lack of great source material.

  • Sept. 22, 2010, 8:21 a.m. CST

    Weird tone.

    by HoboCode

    This show seems to struggle with its tone. Sometimes it seems like a serious cop drama. Other times it's like watching the Beastie Boy's Sabotage video. It's completely odd. I'm not sure if it's on purpose or not but it's kind of hilarious.

  • Sept. 22, 2010, 9:56 a.m. CST

    I saw it... It was pretty bad

    by mistergreen

    It was simple, in a bad way, not very deep in it's portrayals. It felt like something a kid out of film school would do. And it's funny how COAXAL is doing more reviews than the other section of this site. Are you guys on vacation or something? Or have you realized none of us care about your movie reviews anymore?

  • Sept. 22, 2010, 11:17 a.m. CST

    wanted to like this BUT

    by palewook

    it's bad. purely crap. poorly written. standard cop show. and the direction is suspect. Imperioli is wasted in this. He was at least decent in Life on Mars. Here, he's just some washed out actor phoning in horrible dialogue.

  • Sept. 22, 2010, 11:18 a.m. CST

    to the guy that said best cop show ever is hill street blues

    by palewook

    each to their own. <p> mine would be The Shield or The Wire.

  • Sept. 22, 2010, 2 p.m. CST

    Herc, when you guys come up with these "snappy" titles

    by parissun

    do you high five each other? "Herc says...187 doesn't have his number!!" Really. Really.

  • Sept. 22, 2010, 2:50 p.m. CST

    I loved Hill Street Blues.......

    by Screwbini

    ....but the best cop show by a mile is The Wire. Detroit 1-8-7 seemed rote, by-the-book, and just not very interesting. I agree that Imperioli deserves better, and even Life on Mars, which in my opinion didn't live up to its potential, was better than this. ABC hasn't aired a decent cop drama since NYPD Blue, and this one does nothing to halt that streak.

  • Sept. 22, 2010, 3:07 p.m. CST

    Just curious ...

    by dogrobber

    ... just watched it (more like had it on as background noise while doing some work) but I wasn't paying close attention - is the show supposed to be some type of mock documentary? I only ask because, although most of the time it looks like a regular or generic show, there are parts where the actors appear to notice/address the camera, small cameras on car dashboards facing the actors, etc. Thanks.

  • Sept. 22, 2010, 4:07 p.m. CST


    by Screwbini

    I read that originally the concept for the show was for it to be shot documentary-style, but for some reason that idea was dropped. However, some of that style seems to have made its way into the show anyway.

  • Sept. 22, 2010, 5:50 p.m. CST

    Justified - 'Original Angle'?

    by the_opposition

    Hercules - grow a set mate. Modern-day cowboy? Sheer bawbagerry TV.