Inner City Blues: The Racialicious Review of Detroit 1-8-7 1.1

By Arturo R. García

There’s worse ways for a show to curry favor than by dropping a little Stevie into its’ opening scenes. Fortunately for Detroit 1-8-7, it’s got a few other things going for it.

Shot for the most part in a documentary style  (we’re introduced to each character and case with title cards, a nice, efficient touch), the show’s pilot episode revealed itself to be a mostly taut, tight affair, that takes advantage of its’ diverse cast.


First among equals in this shop is Detective Louis Fitch (Michael Imperioli). There’s potential for this kind of character – highest case-closure rate, capable of cracking suspects with a single stare, etc. – to stray too far into White Knight territory, but there’s seeds planted throughout the episode that place him closer to Al Pacino’s character in Heat; Fitch is as frayed as he is formidable. Of course, he can also be a jerk: after just a few minutes working with rookie partner Damon Washington (Jon Michael Hill), Fitch first demands a transfer, then spends most of the rest of the case talking to Washington on his cel phone – while standing right in front of him.

The other team spotlighted in the episode is also worth noting: the black/South Asian pairing of Vikram Mahajan (Shaun Majumder) and Jesse Longford (James McDaniel), who we meet in a diner, talking like two perfectly normal veteran partners. It’s a small thing to see them shooting the breeze about hot dogs, but it’s still nice to see. As is Longford’s joyful application of his Italian lessons, which pays off later in the episode.

There’s still some cliche notes, of course: the musical selections, which veer into standard network “mood-heighteners” by the episode’s end, seem superfluous considering the show’s photography style. And unfortunately, most of our introduction to Det. Ariana Sanchez (Natalie Martínez) revolves around a romantic subplot and her accounting for Fitch’s oddness. But overall, there’s enough dry humor and a surprising enough ending to make this show worth at least investing an hour of your time.