It's been almost five years to the day when Memphis Police homicide detectives bid adieu to nationwide television exposure with an announcement that eventually led to the department deciding not renew its contract with A&E network's highly successful series "First 48."
But, this fall as the band Tin Lizzy once bellowed, "The Boys Are Back in Town." Black Entertainment Television and Judge Greg Mathis have joined forces with MPD in already filmed on location episodes of "The Mathis Project." For legions of cold case fanatics, it could become must-see television.
ABOUT "The Mathis Project' on BET: http://www.bet.com/shows/new-shows/the-mathis-project.html
"This looks into mystery homicides," said Police Director Toney Armstrong. "Homicides that we have not been successful bringing a conclusion to. Judge Mathis and his crew would actually go out into the community and illicit from the community in trying to solve some of these homicides just to bring closure."
Director Armstrong says it was the network's production team who came to the Bluff City and reached out to him and Mayor A C Wharton about participation in the show. The whole thing flew under the radar at Judge Mathis' request while the episodes were being filmed.
"He wanted to keep a low profile and usually the clients will let us have a kick-off party," said Linn Sitler of the Memphis/Shelby county Film and Television Commission. "They didn't even want a kick-off party."
Undoubtedly, the serious nature of the show didn't lend itself to a lot of frivolous hoopla. Advanced word has one of the investigations taking on the case of the 2009 unsolved murder of 15-year-old Alex Bolar. His body was found in Georgian Hills Park.
"We now have a place to start and to start tracing, you know, the last things he did," Former Police Director Larry Godwin said in 2009.
As for Judge Mathis, he won't be diving into these cases alone. He'll be aided by some of the MPD homicide detectives, past and present, who provide him with information and background. What he'll supply is enthusiasm, concern, an inquisitive mind and a new pair of eyes that could prove beneficial to closing cases.
"I did have the opportunity on numerous occasions to meet Judge Mathis," Director Armstrong said. "He's a great guy! Very, very, passionate about the communities."