‘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. Thanks for a review that offers a serious analysis. It’s a welcome contrast to the sites that serve up only shallow celebrity-news crap and treat readers like idiots.

    I watched “Hill Street Blues” on Hulu recently, a landmark drama from way back in the late ’70s. I enjoyed the characters and the plots as much as I did when the show first aired, but man, the stationary camera really gave the show a dated look. I kept wanting someone to pick up the damn camera and move it around. Quite a contrast to the pseudo-documentary look of a show like the one you review here.

  2. Show is great. I hope it lasts.

    • I’m a 55 year old native Detroiter, as such I’m happy to see anything that promotes Detroit. With that said I have to say that I was disappointed with the show. It appeared to me that the writers/producers really need a technical consultant for the show. This was NY in Detroit, case in point… where is there a “Bullit Train” in Detroit, is that the “People Mover” which is a sham transportation system that was developed under the Young Administration? Before you get your panties in a bunch, I’m Black and I loved Mayor Young but I also know BS where it exist and that was a Mayor Young BS project! Next, in Detroit we would never refer to a soda pop as a “soda”, the dialogue doesn’t ring true… in Detroit it’s a “pop” and where in the world did you guys get “a slice”, I’ve lived in New York and it’s so obvious that your writers are New Yorkers! Tell me where in Detroit you can buy a “slice”! The idiosyncracies are endless! I saw friends of mine on the news programs kissing ass and giving you kudos but they do our City no justice! Detroit has a unique culture like any other urban City in the world… please find people that will give you authentic Detroit info, your show will benefit from such honesty. I’m not from Baltimore but I always felt that the Wire ringed true because the folks that wrote it talked from a perspective of truth and reality… just my humble opinion.

      • Just a reminder… Little Caesars still sells slices :)

      • Not just in Detroit, but Michigan in general.

        In any case, this was the pilot episode, and they may have improved upon things. Hopefully. That Bullet Train line was a howler. That didn’t even require that much research.
        But the actors were good anyway.

      • I totally agree with the 55 y/o native. They shuold have had someone local look at the screenplay. I noticed that the neighborhood was empty with no one on the porch. Everyone sits on their porch when it is nice out. The cops would have went to Nemo’s or the Gaelic League to eat or a small diner. I thought going to American Coney was too cliche. I spent the majority of the show wondering where the bullet train is . I wish I could have found it when I worked down there :)Also the inside of the Police headquaters was much nicer than I have seen. The ceiling wasn’t falling in and the seats were not ripped.

      • Coolman, ran that show, and he ran it right into the ground.

        with that being said i agree with everything else you said. slices? Sodas? Come on! What about the loft district? where is this garbage coming from? what a joke.

      • we dont say slice or pop here but we goota help these people otherwise its just a show in detroit that got canceled and the writers may be form new york but there taking a chance in detroit first series other then a documentary to be filmed here they did eat a coney and somebody sayed what up doe thats what i was lookin for

  3. Gun in tow, not toe. . .

  4. I thought this Detroit 187 sucked!!! No wonder the actors had nothing to say when ABC newscasters questioned them in the A.M.about their favorite places in Detroit — HA!! Bowling???!!! They don’t know anything about Detroit!!! GeeeeZZZZ!!!!

    • so help give suyggestions for place to film landmarks maybe they need some place detroit is after all not the most inviting place to come try something new

  5. I watched this tonight and I have to admit, I enjoyed it. This and Hawaii five-0 are going to be my cop shows. I tire of the csi, ncis and law and order spin offs but there’s something about this show that I really liked. I hope it lasts also

  6. I like the show. I like Imperioli. Hopefully some big names come on board, but most of these shows use newbies and I don’t expect it.

  7. Just finished watching this awful show, what a pile. It was the cheesiest show I have seen in sometime, I know pilots are testing the waters, but it was just terible. I mean, really, come on, the main caracter goes into the apartment to have a chat with the gunman, and tells him about all the people he’s hurt, their captains there outside and plays he’s little speech over the loud speaker. Just awful.

    • Thats what made it GOOD ! shutup

      • yea.. that and like the guy is going to answer his CELL phone while arresting a PERP! Come on! the whole thing smells of CORN!

        • I don’t know about you, but I ONLY answer my cell phone when I’m arresting someone. 😉

          • everyone knows this is a comedic drama right not just a drama hence the guy handcuffed to the playset the stupid guy with the grill sayin white and crazy ehhhhhgggggghhhhhh hopefully the concept of the show will get better this is great for the city and i know someone is gonna say how is it great for the city its so negative ya it is but either we let people see how the city looks or we do what we been doin for years your not from detroit get out and thats worked for us so far hasn’t it????? I Love Detroit and i will watch a few more episodes but abc you need to play catch up fast your loosing alot of none detroit fans and good look on sayin what up doe and you need more old english D caps walk around even old men Where fitteds with the D on them come up with good detroit locations Oslo lounge John r and woodward club onyx slows bbq belle isle and if your team is brave enough thers allways chandler park know locally as scandler park

            • i don’t mind the show imperioli was a better gangster put him in boardwalk empire i really don’t want to see the wrong picture of detroit the movie four brothers was a better picture of detroit

        • Like the show but hate the camera style. Camera zooming and moving around so fast makes it nauseating to watch. Don;t understand the whole concept of this camera style.

    • They had to hear the speech in case things went wrong so they can bust in it things did.

    • My father is a police officer in Michigan, and when it comes down to a situation, such as someone having hostages in an apartments, an officer will do anything to get them out. Yes, the whole playing it over the speakers was pretty stupid, and no officer would go in without a gun, but there are some who will go in alone and risk their lives to save other people. I’ve been on a ride-a-long with my dad and personally witnessed an officer having a one on chat with some one like that, the guy broke down, gave up and was arrested. Don’t say things are stupid when you have never witnessed it.

    • You got it..total cheese!

    • honestly i thought that speech was the best part of the who the only part that intrigued me

  8. The writer’s create tension in the characters that keep the viewer’s interest locked from the opening credits to the final scene. There’s a grittiness that separates it from the pack of Cop shows. This is better than NYPD Blue….never thought I’d write that…can’t wait until next week’s episode. Congratulations on such a great start!

  9. I can’t take this Detroit 187 show seriously. 187 is not just cop talk for murder. It is the section of California’s penal code about murder. It is not the same section in Michigan’s penal code. How did these morons let a show go to air with such a stupid mistake in the damn title??

    • I’ve read several complaints that 187 is the California homicide code. Yes, it is. It is also the code for homicide in Detroit.

      How do morons raise complaints without even doing basic research? Should the show create a new, fictitious code, just so people like you won’t feel that it is too California?

  10. A tech in a pharmacy would never ever be wearing heels!

    • I am a pharmacy tech, and I wear heels every day. I am short! I know many women who wear heels every day while working on their feet. You must be tall, so you don’t understand.

  11. I enjoyed the show, but technically from a law enforcement perspective, I observed several errors. First, following the foot chase, the new Detective brings the suspect to the ground and instead of simply handcuffing both hands, he handcuffs only one hand and then handcuffs the other hand around a slide. That took him more time than if he had done it properly. Second, when delivering the murderer to lockup, the Officer’s would never unhandcuff the person while still in possession of firearms.

    • I agree 100%… Nice show, but needs and will be refined. The techinical stand points were a little off as far as a Police Officer is concerned. Why not handcuff and secure the perpetrator, place him in the car, and ~THEN~ return the phone call??? Or better yet, when dealing with a known homicide suspect, place your handcuffs on the homicide suspect while he is still cuffed (yes, I know he will have on two pairs at the same time), ~THEN~ take one pair off. They will get it right thouhgh, that was the first episode.

  12. I just watched the show, was not totally impressed. The tough cop over does it and makes the others look totally stupid. Oh yes, we need more stupid cops.
    Also, the music was so loud, especially the loud banging of the drums, I could hardly hear what they were saying.
    Whoever the producers are aren’t doing a good job on this one. Need more practice.

  13. Okay… The producers missed the biggest part of the show. Motown!
    Why didn’t they make a great licensing deal with Motown(Barry Gordy), put together an old school feel. Score and source was just “the same ole song” LOL (Four Tops) The only connection was a Baby Love (HDH) ringtone. That’s why it start to feel like just another cop show. Let see some Northland, 8 Mile, John C Lodge, Bell Isle????
    However, acting was GREAT, And I love the cast! Let’s keep our fingers crossed and maybe this show will last more than one season. 4 thumbs up, 1 big one down. But what do you expect, I’m a composer who move to LA from Detroit straight out of HS…

  14. Must have been rookies that made this one, it was awful, will not watch it again.
    With all these bad comments, get the message producers.
    I hope they take it off fast and put something good in it’s place.

  15. I’m neutral about the show. I get that the actors aren’t from Michigan, but atleast use phrases and words that we use. Also, no cop would ever answer their phone at a death notification or if they were handcuffing someone, rookie or not. There were quite a few funny parts though. Hopefully next week will be better.

  16. I knew the black partner would get shot…I thought they’d show enough restraint to put it off until a later episode. What melodrama!

  17. FAIL

  18. Writers need to get their S#!^ together if this series is to have a chance… A detective that can’t tell .22 cal from 9mm shell casings with the slightest glance is totally unbelievable… Do it right or don’t bother.

  19. I was mesmerized from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, even the hokey melodramatic parts. Can’t wait to see how the characters develop over time and for next week’s episode. I loved Kevn Hooks directorial vision.

  20. I really liked the show.

  21. Nearly all I was going to say AL said above. I grew up in Detroit but lived in New York afterward and not one of those cops SOUNDED like they were from Detroit.

    The quirkiness of the show needs to be developed but my main b*tch is these people need to drink some Vernors with the locals.

    We have an accent from that area, it’s a melting pot or sorts sure, but we all had the same accent.

  22. Before you put a show on the air about a specific city…please make sure you do some basic research about the city. Tips about the Basics: People that live in Detroit..do NOT say “soda” they say “POP.” Local pops of choice? “Vernors” or “Faygo.” Local chips of choice: Bettermade. Police hang out at “Whitecastles” and eat “Dutch girl Donuts.” The monorail downtown? It’s called “The People Mover.” People in Detroit..dont wear ‘gold teeth.’ That’s a southern thing. And you dont just ‘grab a SLICE’ when you are hungry…you grab a ‘CONEY.’ There is a coney island on every corner. Along with a ‘Party store.’ I want to watch this show..but I have to ‘believe it’ before I get into it.

    • I guess that’s you opinion. I have lived in Detroit for 27 years. I drink Coke, and I eat Frito Lays. I also hate coney’s. Personally, I do grab a slice. Everyone is not the same. Just because these are the things you like, doesn’t mean everyone does. You are right about “The People Mover” though.

      • LIKED IT!

      • Laura, you are not like most Detroiters then. After living outside of the state and travelling you realise Detroit has an absurd amount of Coney Dog places. Just because you’re one that doesn’t eat them doesn’t mean Detroit isn’t known for them.

        • Sorry but fitch is from New york and they dealt with him saying that throughout the show you just didnt watch it. This is a show and it seems the people who have a problem with it are mainly from detroit. Its entertainment. And I agree with Laura- whose to say that they didnt just catch a guy driving through that had gold teeth. That guy wasnt a suspect as someone said. I think people just watch the pilot and didnt watch after that. I doubt it would make any difference though. ah well I love the show

  23. Liked it! It kept my interest.

  24. Personally, I feel the show will get better next week and thereafter. Part of this episode was shot in Atlanta so there are going to be less technical geographical errors in the language and landmarks next time, like people mover etc. I worked on the second episode as a featured extra 9channel 7 news reporter), but I still rate this episode only a 6.5 out of 10. I felt there could be more of a focus on the storyline (the murderer and event that took place) balanced with the lives and stories of the characters on the show. To me, that’s the best case scenerio. Also, I thought the beginning was a bit scattered for my liking, but the focus became more clear as the episode progressed :)Not because I’m partial, but I think episode 2 any beyond will be promising!

  25. Personally, I feel the show will get better next week and thereafter. Part of this episode was shot in Atlanta so there are going to be less technical geographical errors in the language and landmarks next time, like people mover etc. I worked on the second episode as a featured extra 9channel 7 news reporter), but I still rate this episode only a 6.5 out of 10. I felt there could be more of a focus on the storyline (the murderer and event that took place) balanced with the lives and stories of the characters on the show. To me, that’s the best case scenerio. Also, I thought the beginning was a bit scattered for my liking, but the focus became more clear as the episode progressed :)Not because I’m partial, but I think episode 2 and beyond will be promising!

  26. Please, please, please get it right, do some basic research about the city. Didn’t anyone ask the locals before this show hit the air??? It’s called “POP” NOT “Soda”. Anyone who is from Detroit knows it’s not called “Soda”, also they are called Coneyes NOT chili dogs.

  27. It kept my interest. While I never got a feel that it was true “Detroit” it was the pilot episode and nearly every pilot has a much different feel after the series is picked up. I expect a big difference in episode 2.

    This show will grow and I have a feeling it will become more “Detroit” in it’s feel.

    Wasn’t a bad show, worth a watch to see how it develops throughout the season.

  28. Rough start. Flat performances by supporting cast. Poor identification of story locations in the city. Detroit is not perfect but holy moly are we proud to be from there. So do it some respect. Does a single cop follow any local news? You know there are detroit cops listening to the Tiger game in their cruisers and griping about the Lions…Character drives story, let’s hope there is more character and attitude in the pipeline. It will be the accuracy of the little things that wins over viewers.

  29. I didn’t like the show because of one character, whom I found to be extremely annoying, and it was that of the new officer who was partnered with Detective Fitch. This guy was an absolute baffoon…I mean, really-what jackass actually takes a call during a death notice or after apprehending a crimminal (whom he handcuffs to a slide in order to take this call)? Seriously?? This guy was so irritating that I was strongly tempted to turn the station. Yet, I continued to watch and was further irritated by the crook that they caught: he wasn’t even rough enough, in my opinion. In fact, I think that all the characters need to be tougher. If they are going to portray Detroit, they really need some hard-edge folks.