“Detroit 187” deserves to stay around for a while

If I hear one more person say they don’t like the ABC-TV show “Detroit 187” because it makes Detroit look bad, I am going to scream.

“Detroit 187 “tells the entire story of Detroit the same way that “Law and Order” tells the entire story of New York.

It doesn’t. And it’s not supposed to.

Like “NYPD Blue” and “The Sopranos” and “CSI Miami” and every other crime procedural on TV, the show is about the city’s crimefighters. It’s about the cases of the week. It’s telling the stories of the officers who look for bad guys. And catch them.

The ABC procedural is not declaring that all Detroiters are bad guys; they are showing how a group of homicide detectives try to keep the city safe by putting scum in jail.

If you don’t like the acting, say that (although you’d be lying if you say that what Michael Imperioli and James McDaniel do every week doesn’t make you smile. They bring life, humor and gruff compassion to their roles as veteran detectives teaching younger ones about life on the street. I will remember all year when McDaniel, as Det. Jesse Longford told a mother whose son was killed: “We work for you now.”

Television network executives are the original knee-jerks. One dip in ratings or one complaint too many and they cut a show. (Look at what happened to “Medium,” an actual hit that CBS canceled just because it was that network’s lowest-rated hit. It might have been last, but it attracted an average of 7.1 million viewers a week. That’s 3 million more than ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and NBC’s “Community.”)

Detroit 187 was hovering around 7 million viewers last month, down from about 9 million viewers its first week. Problem was: the first few shows were not as good as every other one since, and this week’s was fantastic. Anyone who just watched the premiere should tune in again.

The second problem is: Detroiters, worried about the city’s reputation after a year of study by Time and being the butt of jokes for the past quarter century, would rather have a show about music or cars than one about crime.

Problem is: That show would be canceled after one episode. If it got made at all.

So rather than fight a good show, just remind people that the show isn’t about Detroit; it’s about Detroit’s crime.

Think NYPD Blue, which was about New York cops, not the Big Apple. Think “Homicide: Life on the Streets,” one of the best cop shows ever. It wasn’t about Baltimore. It was about Frank Pembleton – The. Greatest. Cop. Ever. On. TV. (You can watch the brilliant Andre Braugher on “Men of a Certain Age” now. But find a re-run or buy a re-run of Homicide, and weep.)

Watch “187” for yourself. And believe the hype. Not about what the show isn’t. But about what the show is.

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