The Chicago Code is one of those mid-season shows that has been talked about in hushed tones for months, hell nearly a year since it was announced that the creator of The Shield (Shawn Ryan – also of The Unit) would be creating a new police drama. Since then his other show (Terriers) has been and gone in a deluge of critical praise and a drought of popular ratings.
So. I liked it. I was entertained. It was okay.
You want more? Ah… that’s where it gets tricky. ‘cos the more I think about the show the more problems I find with it.
I liked police detective, a grizzly curmudgeon who never rose above the rank of detective but is smart and good at his job, respected by his colleagues and hiding his values and heart behind a his grumpiness. He was entertaining, he had spark and depth. Unfortunately that was about where the positive characters ended. The younger characters are pretty basic in the pilot, the smart and eager young sidekick, the ‘tough-on-the-outside-squishy-in-the-middle’ beat cop niece and her gung-ho partner.
The biggest problem though is Jennifer Beals’ character, the “first female police superintendent in the history of Chicago”. The moment her little voice-over said that I flinched. I have a loathing for this kind of “first female to do X” thing, particularly given that the key thing about her really isn’t her sex, it’s her disconnection from the status quo. She’s forced on us as someone who wants change, who sits in a posh restaurant eating by herself because she’s so driven that she has no friends, who’s not afraid to rattle some cages, who wants her city to be great blah blah blah. She felt flat and unrealistic. But that’s okay because the evil politician she’s up against did everything but stroke a white cat and monologue his plans to kill puppies.
As I said at the top of the review, I enjoyed it when I was watching it. It’s only writing this review that made me acknowledge the massive weaknesses the pilot displayed. So, thanks for that.
The Chicago Code starts on Sky 1, March 2011.
TV Squad: “The show is more challenging than your typical broadcast cop show, but not so challenging as to alienate viewers as FOX’s last ambitious drama, ‘Lone Star,’ did. So no, ‘The Chicago Code’ is not as great or as compelling as ‘The Shield,’ but it’s already a pretty enthralling cop drama. We can expect nothing less from Ryan.”
CliqueClack: “The long wait for ‘The Chicago Code’ is finally over. Did Shawn Ryan’s latest show live up to the hype? You bet your deep dish pizza it did.”
TV Addict: “it simply packs too much into a single episode, crisscrossing between the two before either gets a real chance to come into focus. And for all its characters, few so far are beyond the standard cop drama fare”