Photo Credit : FOX
A million words have been written about the history of cops on television. From the earliest days, cops and their investigations have provided endless material for drama (and even comedy) when it comes to fighting crime. In the last few years there was a decided turn in the police drama to focus more on the whodunit and how it was done, with forensics shows like “CSI” and “Law and Order.”
By : SHAWNA BENSON
A million words have been written about the history of cops on television. From the earliest days, cops and their investigations have provided endless material for drama (and even comedy) when it comes to fighting crime. In the last few years there was a decided turn in the police drama to focus more on the whodunit and how it was done, with forensics shows like “CSI” and “Law and Order.” Recently there have been a few examples of shows about cops that weren’t just following the clues to a crime. “The Shield” was one of the best of these dramas. Created by Shawn Ryan, it was a gritty look at the greys of working as a cop. Now Ryan returns to examine the lives of cops and corruption in “The Chicago Code” on Fox, a taut, intriguing dive into the mythos and reality of Chicago politics, from those who enforce the rules to those who bend them. Ryan makes the high-wire act that is crafting a television pilot look easy. Of course, the reality is that making a good show, and especially a good first episode is incredibly difficult. Television dramas, pilots in particular have a tendency to become mechanical, introducing all of the elements of a show – here’s the plucky protagonist, his sidekick, the bad guy. Stir and simmer all the ingredients and out comes a new fictional world, ready to be explored. Thankfully, not only does the premiere do the important task of laying out the ingredients, but it mixes them together deftly, spinning a tale which not only has a viewer asking whodunit and howdunit, but why.
Photo Credit : FOX
Jennifer Beals ( “Lie to Me”) stars as Teresa Colvin, a tough, ambitious cop who has risen through the ranks of the Chicago police to become the city’s first female superintendent. Colvin has a laser focus on taking down the corruption which has made Chicago notorious, and she enlists her ex-partner Jarek Wysocki, played by Jason Clarke (“Brotherhood”) to lead an unofficial task force when her request for an official one is denied. Matt Lauria (“Friday Night Lights”) is Caleb Evers, Wysocki’s new partner who has the unenviable task of surviving the day with a man who changes out partners more frequently than most people change socks. Delroy Lindo, (“Kidnapped”) is a force of nature as Alderman Ronin Gibbons who Colvin suspects is just the latest in a long line of Chicago politicians who learn how the city machine operates and uses that machine to his own advantage.
Clearly the odds are stacked against Colvin and Wysocki in their endeavor, but like David takes down Goliath, you can’t help but hope for their success. If it comes at all, it will be a hard fought battle, overcoming decades of “The Chicago Way” to make things right.
What sets the show apart from the myriad other cop shows on tv is not just Ryan’s strong voice, but the voices of the characters. Each character has their moment of voiceover, telling us about themselves and their point of view. It makes for an interesting study of how these characters feel about their jobs, their city and their lives. There is one moment in the premiere which comes as a complete surprise and significantly alters the direction of the show in a unique way. To say any more would be to spoil the effect of a clever storytelling device that acts as a gut punch. So few television shows make a creative impact that also surprises the audience, but “The Chicago Code” succeeds where other shows miss the mark. If you are a fan of good storytelling and good acting on television, this is a show you should add to your viewing schedule. It promises to be a bumpy but riveting ride.
“The Chicago Code” premieres on Fox Monday, February 7 at 9 PM ET.