THE CHICAGO CODE “Pilot” Review

THE CHICAGO CODE Pilot (FOX)

THE CHICAGO CODE “Pilot” Season 1 Episode 1 – “If there’s one thing Chicago knows, it’s how to punch back.” Teresa Colvin is the first female superintendant of the Chicago police force. She is determined to take down the corruption festering in the city, and enlists the aid of her old partner, Detective Jarek Wysocki, to do so.

Pilots are sort of like deserts. You feed them to the audience in the hopes that they’ll develop an appetite for the whole meal. That’s why you throw everything you can into that first episode; establish interesting, exciting character and an interesting, exciting situation, complete with lots of guns blazing and life threatening situations. As any television fan knows, a series can really only be judged on the second, third and fourth episodes. But I have gotta say, I freakin’ loved this pilot. I love these characters and I love this world. Like my other favourite show, The Good Wife, which is on CBS, I’m shocked to see a show of this caliber on Fox, a network.

Shawn Ryan is the creator of The Chicago Code. He also created the brilliant show The Shield, also involving a police force, also involving corruption. In this first episode we are introduced to the main players by way of an voice over giving a quick background to their characters. This technique, as employed here by Ryan, lets the audience know who’s who and what’s what, without drowning us in emotional waves of history about people we’ve barely met, like one of those bad American Idol VT packages.

The cast is uniformly strong, led by Jason Clarke as Jarek Wysocki and Jennifer Beals as Teresa Colvin, who both give outstanding performances bolstered by excellent writing. Wysocki is a generation police officer. His father was a cop. His brother was a cop. His niece is a cop. He is governed by his own sense of ethics. When Colvin asks him to join her unofficial task force (and we’ll get to that in a moment) he is reluctant. He probably does not think it will work. He probably thinks it will fizzle out or be blown out. But he goes along for the ride out of respect for Colvin and because he has his own code.

Teresa Colvin’s father owned a hardware store, but after years of paying out to city officials and mobsters he went broke and the family was ruined. Since then she has gathered a hatred for corruption and is intent on bringing it down, getting rid of all of the bad cops and attacking the suits in the sky scrapers. Her righteous crusade is thrilling to watch.

Delroy Lindo gives a powerful performance as Alderman Gibbons, the primary target for Colvin. He is legally the second most powerful man in Chicago, but in reality he is top dog. He even got Colvin her job as the highest ranking police officer in the city, thinking he could be the puppet master. Lindo’s Gibbons is a villain worthy of Beal’s Colvin. He screams all kinds of quiet malice. He is so charismatic, so sincere and so creepy (hello, ear nibbler).

The other characters are just as intriguing, from Wysocki’s new partner Caleb Evers (Matt Lauria) to his niece Vonda (Devin Kelley) and will undoubtedly get more screen time as the series progresses.

It is not as violent or shocking as The Shield. Ryan has made Wysocki a network friendly character- he dislikes profanity – which is a far cry from cable television’s Vic Mackey. Hopefully in a few episodes The Chicago Code will prove to be to crime procedurals what The Good Wife is to legal ones. In any case, with writing, direction and a cast as strong as the pilot, this is a cop crusader show which I will be eagerly anticipating every week.

What did you think of The Chicago Code? Sound off in the comments below.

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