‘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. Wow, to compare this show to “Southland” is a joke. Southland is full of nuance, and strong characters and strong stories – in the vain of NYPD Blue, The Shield and The Wire.

    This show while interesting because I grew up in Detroit, is a hollow, “paint by numbers” cop show. Nothing new here.

  2. I liked the show, but it did have to much a “New York” feel to it.


      • I think he meant it seemed too New York when it was supposed to be Detroit.

  3. And yeah, who the hell answers a phone when arresting someone, that was lame. And it’s POP, not SODA!

    • Yes, that’s the same thing I was thinking. . .They need to get more people on the show who talk like Detroiters.

      • It is a good show but they do need someone to help with technical advice on Detroit. For instance, in one scene last night the murderer is threatened with the death penalty. Well, Michigan does not have the death penalty.

    • Yes, I will not watch it because no one says soda in Detroit, what a joke.

  4. I could not watch this show, it has too much gratuitous fake handheld camera motion. Hack photographers need to stop overusing this technique. Kubrick used it sparingly 46 years ago in Dr. Strangelove, and it was good in the scenes where he used it because it was in combat situations. When you’re in an office setting, use a tripod or at least a SteadyCam!

    • Seriously, does every single scene have to be shot through a window?! IT IS AWFUL. watch next time, EVERY SINGLE SCENE is shot through a window or from the back seat. talk about over-doing a cool effect. so bad. It seems like they took “The First 48″ and screwed it up with bad acting and a sh*ty script.

  5. This is the first episode, i’m pretty sure its going to get better as it goes. I’m from Michigan, and yeah I say pop and I go to Coney Island. The first episode is usually all over the place. I’m willing to give this show a chance, it has potential. Gold Grills? ummmm no, they need tougher criminals. But all in all pretty good show.

  6. I liked it I always wondered why they didn’t have a cop show placed in detroit I hope it will last

  7. The only thing more played out than the medical drama on TV is the cop dramas. WAY too many of these shows on TV right now. I was not even the slightest bit interested in checking this show out and after reading some of these comments I am even LESS inclined to do so. Why do the networks feel that only medical shows and cop shows are what people want to watch?

  8. The pilot was all over the place. The one thing I did notice (and I am from the Detroit area and I am white)was all the white cops. You watch the scenes with uniformed cops milling around in the background. They’re all WHITE!!! That’s just not the realistic Detroit PD.

    • Not the those in command but the rank & file of the Detroit Police Department is about 40%+ white. The Fire Department is even more white. Not very reflective of the 10% of the population that is white in the city (which adds up to about 90,000 residents)

  9. I liked it. I will be watching next week.

  10. It was not what I expected. There were not enough Black cops in the movie. Also, the Plot was everywhere in the movie. It did not look into how the murders occured. This show need to look at The Wire and take notes.

  11. On the fence on this one. I will tune in next week though.

    I kind of lost faith in the show when I saw the first shot of a Detroit P.D. cruiser. The markings are way off and do not resemble a Detroit police vehicle at all. The only common denominator was the fact that most Detroit police vehicles are Crown Vics., most of which are always dirty and smashed in a few places. Nit picky? Yep. I travel in and out of Detroit several times daily and I guess I was expecting a little more authenticity.

    But oh well, for S & G’s, I’ll watch it again next week.

  12. worse cop show ever!!! fake!!! fake!!! fake!!! YES worse than the singing cop show!!! the cast is ok, detroit is a cool backdrop but the clichés are just insulting, from the obvious dumb uniform cops to the rookie in homicide who gets sick after seeing a dead body yet was a star in his last assignment. abc please grow some guts and make a real show about real cop stories 4get all the fluff, am i to believe a criminal who shot 3or 4 people was able to shoot a cop with a cops gun ! and why was this cop holding his gun around a vicious criminal yet these are the best cops detroit has to offer or maybe abc is just trying to sell us a bill of goods in the form of a political correct racially balanced cast that would never ever fit together im sure the fine men and women in the detroit police department would agree im sure they have plenty of true stories to tell & may be insulted by all the painful clichés from start to finish i cant believe they forgot to shoot a cop on his retirement day bet next week the cops will snack on some doughnuts in a dinner .. it will never last!! bring back life on mars!!!

  13. As a retired DPD Officer and born and raised in Detroit, I am on the fence with this one. Maybe just another cop show with Detroit as the backdrop.

    The procedures were not correct for one. No way are you going to uncuff a prisoner before the other set of cuffs is on him. Bad move ABC.

    Another is the new Homicide cop pukes at his first scene?? Cmon, it could not have been his first homicide being a Detroit Cop.

    They do not let an untrained non-hostage-negotiator into a hostage scene as they did let Fitch go in.

    Detroit does not have Detectives with gold badges. We have the ranks of Investigator with a silver badge, then Sergeant and so on in the Homicide Unit. The scout car graphics are incorrect.

    I suppose I have to accept it as entertainment and not nit pick.

  14. I was disgusted with just about everything about this show. I live and work in detroit, i even had to spend a half hour with the crew for this debacle of misrepresentation. I had to hear them repeatedly say the phrase “coolio”. And being disgusted as any detoiter would, all i could do was respond with “pardon” in hopes they could hear how rediculous they sounded.
    This is the brain child of a BIRMINGHAM womans view of detroit. Its terrible cliche, after terrible cliche. Its over done garbage, and its a damn shame cause i dont think there could be a better place to film a good crime drama.
    imperiolli does know how fill some shoes, though.

  15. I tried to watch it but gave up after about thirty minutes. The camera work was terrible and gave me a headache. The plot was ridiculous in some spots. The idiot cop answering the phone while arresting the guy was just not realistic. What cop would do something so stupid? That’s a good way to get killed. Also, the scenes where the cop sat in the interrogation room with the guy and never said a word and the suspect spilled his guts was completely unbelievable and just dumb. I was hopeful about a new cop show about Detroit, but I don’t know if I’ll tune in again, it was a huge disappointment.

  16. Tv is a business and like any business sometines its good to have a few losses to ballance out your winners. Think about it did they give this show the NYPD blue treatment,NO! Or going back a ways even the Hillstreet Blues treatment,No. The difference is in the WRITEING!!! Even dvd’s of Hillstreet,(whitch by todays standerds is cornball)are still better than this! It played like a woman from Birmingham wrote it,,Oh wait she did. This show will never be green-lighted for even 1 more singel episode. They will broadcast what they have in the can and thats it. Like the Lions they where beaten befor thay started and it showed. Hollywood has no interest in it winning. 2nd stringers all the way. Mike Imp.as your leed PLEASE!!! Next to Tony S. he pulled-it-off at best. But Dennis Zranz he ain’t. Sorry Spider Spider crawl back to New York.

  17. Detroit is a greater than 90% black city. So why were most of the perps white? Crazy political correctness.

  18. I think any new show starting out will make mistakes until they find their footing. Some people seemed upset that the two suspects were white…

    I would assume since Detroit is 82% black that more of the suspects will be black, however, I also think you would have more black officers as well.

    But this is America and on network television you will never have a show do well if the majority of the cast members are minorities.

  19. 9 out of 10 times a murder in Detroit is commited by a black person since the city is 80% black! I will bet you none in this season will be black and there will be at least one episode either featuring a white extremist and/or white biker gang. If there is a black criminal it will be justified in some way like they needed the money to get their mother an operation or they were forced into in some way.

  20. This show tries too hard to be like Law & Order … only with bad story, writing and editing. I’m 20 min. in and still didn’t know the main plot. More than 5 factual errors about Detroit/Michigan in the 1st 5 minutes. Since when does Detroit have nearly all white police officers? Where is SE Michigan University? No one has a Detroit accent? All the cops are thin and tiny, WTF?!? They’d be instant toast in a gang riot! Have the makers of this show even been to Detroit? At least Law & Order does a good job of keepin’ it real. This is a joke! I was looking forward to watching a show that takes place in the Midwest, and particularly in Michigan. And, Detroit is a great setting for cop/crime drama. Unfortunately, I don’t think this one will last.

  21. Is EVERYONE on this show overacting or what? The bridesmaid? I-i-i didn’t kill him.
    Tried to like the show, but the second episode confirmed that I will NOT be watching this any longer. Everyone is trying to out-act the actor to their left.

  22. I am from Detroit, I was proud when growing up, I supported Colman Young and helped him become Mayor. He was the beginning of the end of Detroit.
    It is now 80% black, your detectives where almost all white, the news caster was white, of course the victums are black and the sargents were black, your crowds were mostly white. It was a joke to watch the show.
    Detroit is like a disaster zone, I never say I am from Detroit any more.
    I am white
    J. Jensen

  23. Does this show really represent Detroit? No way. If you live in Detroit like I do, and watch the news on TV, you never see any white police officers from the homicide department making statements or in charge of the cases. I wonder what the REAL Detroit Police think about this. If ABC is going to make a police show in Detroit, make it Detroit and stop trying to fool people in an attempt to get high ratings.

    And what’s up with the gold grills on one of the suspects? The brothers in Detroit don’t do gold teeth. And where are the hair styles? Doesn’t ABC know that Detroit is the ‘Hair Capital of the World?’

    Where are the crimes in the nicer neighborhoods? Yes, Detroit has some beautiful areas too, but ABC probably won’t ever show them – they want the ugliness. They need to hire more consultants who REALLY know Detroit (“What Up Doe?”). And like everyone else who’s from Detroit, knows it’s “POP,” not soda. They may as well say this show’s is from Minneapolis, because it sure isn’t where I’ve lived for over 50 years.

    And oh, I almost forgot, Detroit Police don’t even use the term 1-8-7. That’s a California thing (where is ABC from?, oh yeah, California).

  24. I use to live in Detroit and watching this show it seems so unrealistic! This show is so boring and the shots are bad! The action is boring and it needs to have a CSI type action. Im sorry but this show is not going to last.

  25. Does anyone feel like they are watching Life on Mars?

  26. I realize this is screen rant but I found Detroit 187 one of the best new series for fall 2010. Give it time for the characters to develop the stories will become more complex as we the viewer begin to identify with the characters. The unfortunate demise of another cop show was just hitting it’s stride after it’s first season. It was called Southland and some idiots decided it was too edgy for primetime when really it was to make room for a primetime talk show which didn’t last but a few months. Give Detroit 187 at one season to develop into something as memorable as Hill Street Blues. I am sure it will!

  27. Probably the worst cop show I have ever seen, and I have watched everything from Starsky and Huthch, to Cop Rock. Not only is the writing atrocious, perhaps even being offensive to the “art” of television drama writing, but the acting is similar to what most high school drama clubs would not be “stoked on.”

  28. What’s “embarrassing” is the taste of the american public – the american version of “Life On Mars” was an awesome show – it was the only reason I checked out Detroit 187 – which is frankly .. boring – Michael Imperioli in “Life On Mars” was frikkin brilliant… this show is just another cop show as far as I can see – I might catch 1 more episode but, I have a feeling it’s coming off the dvr schedule.