Memphis Beat: "One Night of Sin"

Posted by Chris Herrington on Wed, Jul 21, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Memphis Beat, "One Night of Sin"
Originally Aired July 20, 2010

Disappointingly, this was probably the least "Memphis-y" episode of Memphis Beat yet, and since that's what we care about here, this recap will be shorter than most.

Episode Named After: "One Night (of Sin)," in its original version, is a gloriously hung-over 1956 New Orleans R&B gem from Smiley Lewis. Elvis Presley recorded it a couple of years later, both in Lewis' version (which you can hear on the compilation Rockin' Bones: 1950s Punk and Rockabilly) and in a cleaned-up version. Elvis' altered "One Night" ("with you" replacing "of sin") was released in 1958 on a single opposite " I Got Stung," hitting #4 on the pop chart and #10 on the R&B chart. Elvis later did a killer version of the song on this 1968 "comeback" special for NBC.

Plot Synopsis: Detective Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee) and his mama (Celia Weston) are attending a public memorial service for Memphis music legend Darlene "Ma" Boswell. There, the remaining members of the performing Boswell family — husband Doc and daughters Sadie and Delilah — perform a bluegrass-inflected tune and manager Frank Dixon delivers a eulogy.

Afterward, while Dwight is doing a man-on-the-street interview with a documentary filmmaker, Dixon is found dead behind the theatre where the memorial service was held, having fallen from the building's third-floor balcony. Lt. Rice (Alfre Woodard) suspects grief-based suicide but Dwight's advanced detecting skills lead him to assume foul play.

As Dwight sifts through multiple suspects, including a "super fan" played by guest star Giovanni Ribisi, a "B" plot about partner Whitehead's inappropriate tall tales on the job doesn't go much of anywhere.

Respect (Memphis music featured in the episode): Not much. Dwight and Delilah duet on "One Night (of Sin)" at a nightclub to close the show. Beyond that, Lucinda Williams' "Can't Let Go" is heard at a bar while Dwight and Whitehead talk. That's not a Memphis song, more like a general "Southern" song. A seemingly re-recorded bit of Booker T. & the MGs' "Green Onions" is heard.

The City (Truthy Memphis): This was sort of like the Nashville episode of Memphis Beat, with the show's creators seeming to confuse Tennessee's two music cities. The Boswell clan is presented as something of a modern-day Carter Family and the memorial service is packed with white people in cowboy hats. Dwight's mama thinks she sees Dolly Parton in attendance. "All the country music heavies" are there, as one character notes, and it's all very Grand Ole Opry, despite Dwight's insistence that, "I don’t know how you can't be a fan of the Boswells, being from Memphis."

Ribisi's character runs a fan website and lives in a house packed with Boswell memorabilia. He's a little creepy. Obsessive fans are certainly part of the Memphis music story, but the really unbalanced ones don't tend to live in Memphis. (Maybe Holly Springs.)

Dwight is more in line with the kind of dedicated but non-creepy super fans you'd find here, and we see more of the "Elvis" room at his house, including a close-up of a framed poster from Presley's 1968 film Speedway.

A more perceptive nod to Memphis modernity: Dwight's meet-up with the young filmmaker trying to make a documentary about Memphis music.

Union Street (Unreal estate): The only new addition to the Memphis Beat geography in this episode is the "Palace Theatre" where the memorial takes place. It's presented as an old, big, worn, elegant multistory theater. A pretty good stand-in for The Orpheum.

What Decade is This Again?: Dwight on the performance of the Boswell's late manager: "[He] made the sound too slick the past 10 years. Took the concerts out of the state fairs and into the arenas, like they're too good for the ordinary folk." Ordinary folk? Either Dwight is Andy Taylor or a pandering modern politician.

Analysis: Memphis Beat continues to evolve from potential atrocity to run-of-the-mill cable series. That's nice for them, but we're here for the "Memphis," good or ill. And this episode didn't have enough.

Memphis-y Trope Central to Next Week's Mystery: It's "fight week" on Memphis Beat, with a bar brawl and a plot involving a struggling boxer.

Comments (16)

Showing 1-16 of 16

There was an episode of "leverage" recently that clearly mistook Memphis for Nashville, unless every scene was supposed to be set in the Double Deuce. I wish the TNT producers would take a tour of both the cities and pass notes along to their LA friends.

Posted by Willson on 07/21/2010 at 11:15 AM

Memphians do not walk about wearing Cowboy boots & hats... that may be Texas- but not Memphis. And those Plaid Flannel shirts prevalent in the entrance to the Memorial service were atrocious! Please- Memphis is not farm land!! Memphian women do a fine job of dressing well- as do the men!! Memphis Beat needs to do some wardrobe research here!

Posted by Babs on 07/21/2010 at 12:28 PM

I was thinking pretty much what this review talked about. This is supposed to be about MEMPHIS not Nashville. The whole country music theme and the audience in the theatre was NOT Memphis and it is embarrassing to have Memphis portrayed so incorrectly on a national cable network. I'm not impressed with this show. I turn it on every week and then find my attention drifting elsewhere.

Posted by AmyTN on 07/21/2010 at 12:54 PM

I think the commentors are a little too stereotypical Memphis. Go to the Orpheum when Lyle Lovett is in town. We are absolutely surrounded by farms, trucks, hats, and ugly plaid shirts. Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, hello?

Posted by 38103 on 07/21/2010 at 1:15 PM

Zippy, you forgot Papa Top's West Coast Turnaround.

Hell, Memphis isn't even a blues town, if you just go by how Memphians dress. If anything, we're Wal-Mart town.

Posted by Jeff on 07/21/2010 at 1:29 PM

George Strait at the Pyramid was like a convention for cowboy hatsters. My poor stained and broken down Resistol included. Boots are almost a requirement at a PTWCT show although hats seem to come and go. It's amusing that so many people have some sort of monolithic notion of what Memphis culture is. Sometimes Beale is full of folks who've cowboyed up. But there are places you can find it every night if you know where to look in the right parts of town.

Posted by Chris Davis on 07/21/2010 at 1:48 PM

I didn't forget them. I stood in six inches of water during BBQ fest to watch them. And if I remember correctly, the crowd looked a lot like the one in Memphis Beat, wetter and far drunker, mostly shirtless, but pretty similiar.

Posted by 38103 on 07/21/2010 at 1:48 PM

And somebody brought a keg... in torrential rain. Happy to say none of the vintage equipment was ruined.

Posted by Chris Davis on 07/21/2010 at 2:13 PM

Yeah, I didn't mean to imply there's no country audience/connection/culture in Memphis, just that this particular version of it seemed rooted more in Nashville -- it's presented as more of a country industry event ("all the country music heavies") and the honored artists are modeled after the Carter Family more than anything from Memphis music history.

Posted by Chris Herrington on 07/21/2010 at 2:21 PM

You gotta take a keg anywhere you go at BBQ. We had a special insulated blanked made by NASA.

CH, I was commenting more about the comments. I'm glad Memphis Beat isn't solving the murder of a Memphis bluesman every episode.

I'm looking forward to all the comments when they feature a punk club. Or god forbid they eat sushi somewhere.

Posted by 38103 on 07/21/2010 at 2:47 PM

need to see more of memphis for sure in this series.

Posted by 38119 on 07/21/2010 at 3:14 PM

I sure hope someone's getting royalites for every time they fall back on "Green Onions." Seems like you hear part of it almost every episode.

It's like a bad car wreck. I don't want to look, but I do.

Posted by B on 07/21/2010 at 4:23 PM

I agree on the overuse of "Green Onions." Let's get a little "Slim Jenkin's Place" in there next time.

Posted by Chris Herrington on 07/21/2010 at 4:26 PM

I no nuttin bout nuttin...but I do know that Jason Lee seems to be very sexy. And when he was singing One Night With You or One Night of Sin..I don't care what the name of the song was.....all I know is if my hubby played that music 45 years ago when he was a courtin me...he wouldn't have
had to wait for our Wedding night. Yes..I am 63 years old and have the hots for Jason Lee When he played Earl ..I watched cause the show was amusing to me. But now that Jason Lee has cut off that wicked broom handle he is just SCRUMPTOUSLY YUMMY !!!

Posted by Your_Appalacian_Americana on 07/22/2010 at 2:18 AM

I was born in Memphis in 1952 and raised in Memphis. But in reading all of these comments I have to agree a little with almost all of them. I was looking forward to a Memphis show now that I am in exile in Florida, (my longest since birth, 6 years) Those of us from Memphis get more out of the opening credits than most of the shows so far. I grew up with a sister 5 years older than me who played Elvis 24/7 on the record player so even though it wasn't something I tried to do, I know ever word to every song Elvis ever put on vinyl. She later became the president of the Memphis chapter of the Elvis fan club before she died and let me tell you , Dwight's Elvis room is a starter edition. I tend to be a blues guy and I went to see the King (B.B.) at the Thunderbird before it burned down. You older people remember when that was possible and there was a time when there was no strained relationship between Blacks and Whites at the clubs or at the churches. April 4, 1968 was Memphis Tennessee's One Night of Sin. Anyway Memphis is a great city and has a lot to be proud of and I just wish some of those things would make it into the show. It does look more look Nashville at times but if you fail to remember all those folks ( yes folks is generational but I still here it among people Dwight's age when I come to Memphis) from Millington to Tipton County and from Collierville and Memphis to Fayette County then you never get to see the plaid and hats but man they are there. The little bars out there don't have a fire capacity they have a hat capacity. Those are the people that you see packing the country concerts. I wonder if Chris is from Memphis, his profile mentions his favorite singers as the Rev. Green, (that's a plus) but also Prince hmmmmmmm. I did like his comment about one of the differences in the show is that the Beal street crowd is a lot drunker than in the show. ( sorta like Bourbon Street)
Granted Tennessee is a 3 state, state and Memphis people don't like to be associated with those hillbillies from Bashville but if you look at Memphis Heritage you will find country gospel and country western staring right at you. Talking about Mamas, I clearly remember mine singing 40's tunes right along with Hank Williams that were playing on the radio. Granted we don't participate in this new country music and quite honestly it snuck up on me when it made it so big. Mainly I guess because I can't understand it. It's dropping off now somewhat but it still sells more CDs that the Blues. Y'all be good,


Posted by Mike from Memphis on 07/22/2010 at 1:38 PM

Oh wow this week West Memphis got promoted, it's in Tennessee on the childhood sweethearts profile

Posted by Mike from Memphis on 07/27/2010 at 11:17 PM
Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment