DETROIT 187 “Road to Nowhere” Review

DETROIT 187 "Road to Nowhere"

DETROIT 1-8-7 “Road to Nowhere” Episode 13 – My mood wasn’t at its best when I clicked on ABC five minutes prior to the start of Detroit 1-8-7 and was made to watch the last few minutes of what is possibly the network’s worst show, V. What a tragic waste of Morena Baccarin. (Firefly 4 life, yo.)

But the mood was lifted once Detroit 1-8-7 started rolling. Kick it off where the lead character is immediately accused of killing a well-respected man who had just received the key to the city. Add to that a mystery homicide in which a three people were murdered on a bus with no driver, no witnesses, and surrounded by a half-million dollars in loose bills scattered all around it. And jack THAT up by revealing the money had been on the bus for the sole purpose of paying off the ransom of a kidnapped seven-year old girl … and the clock is now ticking faster as (obviously) the kidnappers have yet to receive their payment …

Ladies and gents, we have the makings of a rather taut hour of police drama!

First, it has to be said: Michael Imperioli surprised me. Sure, I’ve heard it from other sources: he’s extremely capable, even believable, as an ex-New York cop working Detroit homicide. But how different is a New York swagger from the New Jersey thug Imperioli famously played in The Sopranos? To me it sounded like Imperioli being Imperioli. And let’s be honest, the 1800 Tequila commercials he’s appeared in haven’t exactly been a stretch of the imagination. (“Oops.”)

Even his turn as a local detective in The Lovely Bones was hardly illuminating (though in his defense, many of his scenes – including an affair his character has with Rachel Weisz’s character – were famously left on the cutting room floor). I wasn’t sure I would see more within Imperioli than I’d already seen.

Glad I was wrong! Imperioli’s Detective Louis Fitch is an excellent lesson in the less-is-more school of emoting. Fitch is a bundle of concealed tics and hidden nerves, masterfully held together beneath a too-cool façade. He fights with himself constantly, and unless you’re looking for it you’ll probably miss more than a few of the nonverbals he emits. The false accusation of murder that would normally send most cops into a freefall of freak-out actually seemed to please Fitch. I didn’t actually need to be told at the end. And the little cat-and-mouse he played with FBI Special Agent Jess Harkins (a sharp Megan Dodds – the unlikely balance of a smarter Anne Heche and a quicker-tongued Amy Ryan) was something he secretly enjoyed.

Yep, this is a man who sincerely wished he had been the guy that had killed Malloy.

I sort of wish they had left the mystery of Who Killed Henry Malloy go a few episodes longer, but clearly they are setting up and endgame in which Fitch will have to face his longtime Big Apple nemesis, Albert “Big Al” Stram. (From the cryptic phone call Fitch received at episode’s end, dude sounds Scottish. I will award a “You Have No Life” prize to anyone who can identify the man behind the taunting voice of Stram.)

I like the chemistry they’re setting up between Fitch and Harkins. Really, who couldn’t see it the moment she walked into the precinct? It was like, Will there ever be a female foil for Fit—ahh, there she is, high heels a-clicking. And by way of next week’s preview I see she’s not going to stay away in Chi-town (LOL) for long. We get her next week too! Incidentally, that little bit of Detroit / Chicago banter was nice. Maybe next year, if the show can survive its unwarranted ratings drop and the Detroit Lions actually play some football – which I predict they will – we’ll see some more of that.

I’ll also follow the whole “Authentic Detroit” thing they keep touting. I’m no personal expert of the Detroit area, but the entire side of my olde mama’s dearly beloved family hails from Dearborn, so I have plenty of sources I can tap. At least somewhere near the vicinity. First question should be that “pop” thing, right? Is it pop or is it soda? You D-town (LOL) people are weird. But you’re saucy, and so I like you.

I hope ABC keeps this ball rolling. The supporting cast has few flaws, and even those are minor, the good far outweighing the bad. (I would rank it up there with the supporting cast of Dexter, honestly.) Let Detroit 1-8-7 breathe, give the quick-witted Fitch some real challenges – intellectual, ethical, and romantic – and see what comes of it. I’ll be watching.

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