‘Detroit 187′ Series Premiere Review & Discussion

Published 5 years ago by

detroit 187 premiere Detroit 187 Series Premiere Review & Discussion

Detroit 187 is ABC’s newest addition to the television procedural this season. Initially conceived as a real-life documentary, the intent was to follow around officers as they made their rounds in Detroit, Michigan. Unfortunately, the series had to quickly adapt  as an intense police shoot-out had officials changing their minds about filming in Michigan City.

Many months, and some casting decisions, later we’ve got Michael Imperioli back on the alphabet network with gun in tow. Most recently, Imperioli played Detective Ray Carling in the Americanized version of the British television classic Life on Mars. Unfortunately, Life on Mars was an embarrassing adaptation that barely lasted one season.

So, here we are, at the beginning of a new fall season with Imperioli stepping up to the plate again. Will a new police drama based in a city other than New York or Los Angeles, mixed with a unique documentary style, prove to be a winner?

Preview (courtesy of ABC)

Detectives Washington and Fitch investigate a double homicide at a pharmacy. Was it a drug theft gone bad or something else entirely? Meanwhile, Longford and Mahajan try to track down the killer of an attorney (an attorney with plenty of enemies). When both cases intersect, the detectives are in a race against time to stop the killing spree, culminating in a high-speed pursuit and a perilous standoff, putting the cops in harm’s way.


This season, ABC appears to be utilizing a documentary look for two prospective television pilots – in an attempt to bring a new twist to television’s tired genres. Fortunately, out of the two series given this stylizing – My Generation being the other – Detroit 187 comes out on top. Unfortunately, after seeing My Generation, you’ll realize that coming out on top isn’t exactly a hard feat to accomplish (considering Generation’s poor execution).

Jokes aside, Detroit 187 is a solid series.

detroit 187 premiere review Detroit 187 Series Premiere Review & Discussion

In the beginning, Detroit 187’s pilot can seem a bit contrived and the use of cameras and poorly designed title cards could quickly derail some viewers. Personally, I think it’s merely the series trying to find itself. Thankfully, as the episode progresses and the story gains focus, the show’s initial vision becomes clearer.  A vision that may deliver a great television drama.

While shows like Southland have attempted, and unfortunately failed, to bring a more realistic look to police procedurals through the use of documentary-style cinematography, there’s a clear difference in Detroit 187′s execution. In Detroit 187, the documentary style has a purpose – as an actual documentary crew is following the various characters around, through their day to day routine. Of course, the description doesn’t do the show justice, and probably brings about comparisons to reality television shows – such as COPS. On some level, that comparison may be correct, but smart direction helps to set Detroit 187 apart from any stigma.

Aside from the unique camerawork, Detroit 187 has a slew of odd and intriguing characters. Don’t get me wrong, many of the characters you’ll see are pretty much cookie-cutter figures from almost every police procedural to date, but the show manages to make the characters feel new and refreshing. Taking time away from chasing criminals, Detroit 187 gives each character time to develop on screen. A choice that serves to propel the series from one episode to another, allowing the characters room to grow – since each assigned case has the audience focusing on the task at hand

michael detroit 187 premiere Detroit 187 Series Premiere Review & Discussion

The true testament of Detroit 187’s potential as a television series is in the pilot’s final act. While Michael Imperioli’s character, Det. Louis Fitch, is mostly a cliché through-out, a hostage situation elevates him past the “crazy detective” character that he’s been playing from the start. His latent character arc, combined with the documentary-look, delivers a stand-off that is as captivating as it is unique.

Ultimately, Detroit 187 wouldn’t work if it didn’t have the documentary look, nor would it work if it were simply another uninspired police procedural. This series works because it takes new elements mixed with old elements and develops them to their fullest potential.

… I only hope that future episodes will allow Detroit 187 to live up to that potential.

Final Thoughts

At times, the documentary style of Detroit 187 adds refreshing and intriguing elements that prevent this series from becoming another run-of-the-mill police procedural. Unfortunately, that same documentary style also hurts Detroit 187 when awkward looks into the camera and the numerous, annoying title cards instantly take the viewer out of the story. That being said, there’s no doubt that if you watch the series premiere, you’ll be tuning in next week.

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  1. I have liked the episodes I’ve seen so far except they need to use camermen that handle a camera better. If their intent by making the cameras swing around wildly and flash between people so fast is their idea of cinimatic “genius” and talent, I am not in agreement, just nauseated.
    By the way, if I had a partner who kept using his cell phone during work time, I’d throw it in the Detroit River or shove it where the sun don’t shine. This has put people in jeopardy. Not very believable.

  2. I like the show, I watch it every tuesday. its a bit different and people who are pretty much putting it down are not used to the filming or the acting. its DIFFERENT it does not need to be like CSI or any other cop show, its a show by its own that sticks out & since all of you people are so USED TO those other cop shows you wont give this show a chance. it just started out, watch a few episodes or till the season is over you are missing out, its a good show. the more you watch it the more you will get used to it, everything new in life takes time to get used to so give Detroit 1-8-7 a try you will be hooked on watching it. 😀

  3. I am sorry!!!! I love this show..I am from Detroit and love seeing the backdrop and landmarks I can relate to. And I think they did do their homework. Yes Detroit is 80percent black. But most of the detectives and alot of the cops are still white. I think the pilot was not half as good as the actual show. But that is because the budget is not there for the pilots. I watch every Tuesday and I am totally hooked, I hope this one hangs around for a while. Thanks ABC.

    • We love this show for the same reason, all the back drops are familiar, the characters are well done and we are anxious to follow their development. Can’t wait fot the episodes each week!

  4. I like the show but the background music is too loud and I can’t understand half the lines. Anybody else notice that?

  5. The BEST show on TV this season!

  6. I think this is the best show of the new season. The story lines are interesting, the characters are different and you see how they can grow and the style reminds me of NYPD Blue. Detroit 187 has the grit like Blue did. Overall it is a fantastic show and I hope the network gives it a good chance.

  7. This show rocks!! It has a quality that is SO LIKE people I’ve known in Detroit. (I grew up there.) The old black dude and the young black dude are very much like people ARE there. The slyness of the people they investigate as well as the cops themselves is right on! I want to find out who writes this show because it is tremendous! This writer understands/knows Detroit. I’ve lived in other cities with similar ratios and they are not like Detroit. Detroit is mean–and I’m not being particularly negative. It’s mean for a reason–because people are mean and you never know who you’re dealing with. It’s a defense mechanism.
    As for the way the show is done–I never feel like I’m taken out of the imagined dream of the narrative–and when you are in a real situation–a lot of the time you don’t understand what somebody said. But the context is still there and you *get it*. Every single one of the actors is excellent, I mean just excellent. Top-notch show all around. I am a writer and I don’t know how they pull this off, but they DO. Wonderful.

  8. Umm y are white people always geting killed on 187 theres like 10 white people in detroit it is fake

    • Every episode, white people are committing crimes in Detroit. That is not accurate! More whites on that show than the whole city of Detroit! And, we don’t drink soda, we drink pop! Glad that fake show got cancelled!

  9. I love Detroit 187 cannot wait until Tuesdays at 10:00 to watch the show. I think the show is wonderful for detroit, the actors have really started to convince me that they are from detroit themselves> the cell phones are hilarious. I love it when we go out and run into some of the actors from the show. I have a salon in farmingtonhills mi, if ever you need a salon in the one of your series please feel free to contact us.

  10. hopefully this series is short lived. it depicts prejuidice/racism/and all the bad things about Detroit, an historical gem that is suffering primarily due to our governments lack of ability to properly tax and encourage business development and maintanence in the US. the US citizen pays taxes with US dollars, and our government and foreign diginitaries led by the glorious Hillary Clinton, find it necessary to give our money to foreign countries and promote growth of manufacturing outside the US//all under the hoax of global commerce. Tax foreign autos//subsidize products made in the US/ and we will see Detroit and other cities return to productive centers of commerce. This show illustrates small minds/ and the awfulness of what can happen when a city is starving to death. lets work to fix it so we don’t have to write about it. Boycott the show and its sponsors

    • hello??!! Do you live there? Do you (or have you ever) lived anywhere NEAR a place like this?

      Oh, “boo-hoo, they only show the bad.” They don’t even show the half of it!

      The simple fact that you Dare to lump DETROIT in with all those “other cities” just highlights your ignorance! Seriously, “productive center of commerce,” I lived in Flint-town AND Detroit my WHOLE LIFE –> there has NEVER been a d*m* thing “productive” about this place (“historical gem” my a**: look up Detroit buildings in Time magazine, you’ll get a real good look at those so-called “historical” sites)

      I’m not saying that Detroit (like anywhere else) does not have its beauty, but I think this show will show it about as well any other cop show.

      If anything, this show Majorly softens the the reality of the city. Do you have any idea what 50-60 percent unemployment looks like? Do you have any idea how many (derelict, boarded-up, rat-trap, crack-house) -abandoned houses have been torn down by the new major (not the old one-he’s in prison now). Give you a hint . . . it barely skimmed the surface of what is STILL there, *and* it is way more that any other ‘major’ city that you could think of.

      If you think something can be done about it – do it – and stop yappin your jaw about s**t you know nothin about!

    • No! The show is about the police officers and the fight against homicide. I am not from detroit or the US and this show makes me want to go there not stay away from it. I love this show. It is so realistic and great drama. Dont cancel it ABC. You should be encouraging this show.

  11. Although this is a good drama, the underlying bias just drips. Last week a white woman killed her husband, and they made it seem like she was more responsible for an 11 YO black kid who got killed in a driveby with the same gun than the guy who did the deed. This week they managed to take a shot at our health care system for illegal aliens and white police violence from the riots in the 60’s. 90% of Detroit is black … but 90% of the perps on this show are white, with a social justice thread intertwined. Perhaps the unbelievability of that is why it is going to get canceled. When will Hollywood stop preaching this crap to us?

    • I never thought this show was racist against white people when I began watching it. ok yes there was one white person who her killed her husband and the ganster dude was scotish. I did see that, but I am not sure if it is deliberate and I love this show much I am not going to take it as deliberate cause i hate that crap when people look into things waaay too much and start pulling the racist crap. I enjoy this show and it is good that there is a mixture of all backgrounds on this show. It is well written and gives me joy to watch it. So this white person doesnt think that it should be cancelled.

  12. what does the “187” in Detroit 187 refer to?

    • 187 is the number of whites living in Detroit.

  13. I love this show and I am addicted. I like the story lines and cannot wait until 10 pm on Tuesday night to check out the scenery from my city.
    All the people who say it’s racist and makes the city look bad ought to realize that a mirror only shows a reflection of what is in front of it. Do your part to make the city better and it will be better. 187 rocks.

  14. Love the show. It reminds me a lot of Hill Street Blues. Its nice to see character development not as a afterthought but as a plot device. Yes, Fitch is the hard-nosed detective hooked with the hopeful rookie, but their chemistry is amazingly conveyed by his ‘new york’ acting.

    I also must say that I never got the impression that Imperioli was the series lead so to speak as the show seemed to give equal focus on the other two detective pairing.

    Bottomline i’m hooked and I hope they don’t drop this one. For this season only Blue Bloods surpasses this show.

  15. I would like to say that I have always been a Michael Imperioli fan. I’ve seen all his movies and “The Sopranos” was in my opinion the best show of all time!!!Greatly in part because of Michael and James Gandolfini.
    I started watching “Detroit 187″ when it first started but couldn’t come to grip with the bald woman. IT IS DISGUSTING!!! I stopped watching because that made me physically sick.
    I recently started watching an episode one night and as soon as the bald thing came on and everyone was telling her how good-looking she was..I started getting sick again. This show would have had a chance because Michael is such a good actor…but has no chance because of bad decisions in hiring someone that is physically impossible to look at.
    Sorry Michael Imperioli got mixed up with a show that can’t make it.

  16. I love this show also and Michael Imperolli is a great actor, but someone put a wig on that bald woman! Except for her, the cast is fantastic and the style of the show does remind me of NYPD Blue and Hill Street Blues.

  17. My question is, Why when the show pans over the skyline from the water, and if am mistaken it shows a high rise of a building that is in Chicago! Why is this?

  18. I love Detroit 187 and would very much like to see it back for a second season. The actors are outstanding, and the story lines interesting. I am a big fan, and look foward to Tuesdays when it is aired.

    • You have to be joking. I agree that CSI is an awful tv show and that the fact that they keep making it is ridiculous to me but this show is much worse. The script is terrible and the camera angles are as if a teenager is trying to show off for their high school film teacher. I mean seriously, does EVERY shot need to be through a window? or around the corner of a door? Its absolutely amateur. If this show is picked up for another season I will be shocked. I personally hope it doesn’t. There are much better things worth funding out there.

  19. I am so excited that Detroit 187 will be on again this fall. I love, love, love Michael Imperioli, since his role in The Sopranos however, this character is more loveable 😀 This show is much like Hill Street Blues/NYPD Blue in its grittyness and I enjoy the documentary style format kind of reminds me of the The First 48. I just hope ABC gives it a chance and not can it after a couple of weeks. I am so not into all this reality crap it’s nice to have some fantasy for a change.