Close your eyes and picture the major American metropolis of Detroit.
What do you see? Palm trees and loads of bikini-wearing women along the Great Lakes? Genteel antebellum homes? A nightlife featuring A-list actors and models? A cultural center of great art, music and dining?
Shockingly, some people view Detroit as a crime-ridden, urban wasteland, the center of the Rust Belt and one of the worst hit areas of the recession, full of failing schools and other ills.
I know, it's hard to imagine. But producers of a new ABC drama set for this fall called "Detroit 187" have used the latter vision as the basis of their TV series. (The 187 refers to a police code for a homicide).
Now, members of the Detroit city council are in arms that the city will be portrayed negatively on the series and make it difficult for them to create a new image for the city.
Newsflash: Unfortunately, that ship sailed long ago. With the Big 3 automakers struggling, a corrupt ex-mayor and high crime rates, there's a good reason why people have negative images of Detroit. There's a reason why it's not America's No. 1 vacation spot.
It's not the first time TV has run afoul of Detroit officials. A few months ago, a 7-year-old girl was killed in a police raid that was being filmed by an A&E reality show crew.
I can sort of see a point to the council's objections. After all, the more bad stuff about Detroit in the media, the more the stereotype is reinforced. However, there's a reason why people have those images of the city, and that's what really needs to be addressed.
A better solution might be to work with the producers of the show and show some positive aspects to the city along with the negative aspects. After all, New York City has a high crime rate and other issues, but people still visit it because of the positive things going on their as well.
New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, even Baltimore (in both "Homicide" and "The Wire") haven't suffered as a result of cop series set in those cities. And Detroit could pick up some money when the producers film segments in the city itself.
Perhaps some out-of-the-box thinking is what city officials there need.
TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Fox has put a new spin on the food-based reality shows with the debut of "MasterChef" at 9 p.m., following a new "Hell's Kitchen." In it, Gordon Ramsay and others judge the would-be chefs, with the winner getting prize money and the chance to publish his/her own cookbook.
On cable, USA has brand-new episodes of "White Collar" and "Covert Affairs" beginning at 9 p.m. SyFy has a new "Warehouse 13" at 9 p.m.
ABC Family is showing "Pretty Little Liars" and "Make It or Break It" from 8-10 p.m., while TNT has a new "HawthoRNe" at 9 p.m., followed by "Memphis Beat" at 10 p.m.
Finally, I had pretty mixed feelings about tonight's "Rescue Me" (FX, 10 p.m.) I found the attempt to mix humor and drama, in an episode about Tommy (Denis Leary) blacking out during a bender, to be pretty inappropriate. However, this episode sets up the next two, so it's a turning point in the show. It's followed by a new "Louie" at 11 p.m.
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