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  • Respecting The Chicago Code

    February 11th, 2011

    By Danny Manus (the TV Whore)

    Shawn Ryan, creator of one of the best cop shows of all time, “The Shield,” is back with a new network cop show set in Chicago, aptly named “The Chicago Code.”  Though originally titled “Ride-Along,” it’s clear why the change was made. This new cop drama is very much about the code that police, criminals and politicians in Chicago live by and how they all seem to intersect.

    It follows Det. Jarek Wysocki (played by the powerful Jason Clarke) and the new Police Superintendent (the almost pitch-perfect Jennifer Beals) as they try to bring down the man who seemingly runs their city (the deliciously evil Delroy Lindo).

    Now let me say this – I loved The Shield. I loved it a lot. And I’ve met Shawn Ryan and he’s a great guy. And not only am I a sucker for cop shows, but I am a huge fan of Jennifer Beals, who I think is such an underrated actress and who was one of my main reasons for watching The L Word all those years (other than the naked girl-on-girl action and Kathryn Moenning – but that’s another story). So, this was easily the most anticipated show of the year for me.

    And I know a show is good and has promise when the morning after it premieres, my mother, my best friend in NY and my best friend in LA all text me to tell me how much they loved it. That’s never happened…ever.

    And here’s the thing – if I had never watched The Shield, like my parents hadn’t, and I just came into this show without any preconceived notions or expectations – I’d probably think it was the best new drama of the year. But since I had…I was just SLIGHTLY disappointed. I know – it’s a network show. And the brilliant Ryan didn’t WANT to write another disturbingly gritty, all hand-held camera shot show. And he doesn’t have the luxury of the colorful language he was able to use on FX. So, taking those things into consideration, I thought the show was great. It pulled me in, it made me interested, and it makes me want to keep watching. But…it’s not The Shield.

    Beals has this fantastic Chicago accent that she must have worked really hard on, and I appreciate that. And I do love a girl in uniform. From Shield’s Catherine Dent to Third Watch’s Molly Price to Homicide’s Melissa Leo – I’ve always loved female cop roles. And I think Jennifer Beals’ Superintendent Colvin has the potential to be the next great one.

    Clarke has this hardened exterior that he’s perfected on some other great shows and really gets to show it off nicely here.  His new partner, the fresh-faced but all-business Caleb Evers (played by Friday Night Lights star Matt Lauria), is a strong supporting character, though all the other supporting players will hopefully be better defined in the next few episodes.

    And it’s going to be interesting watching their take-down of Delroy Lindo’s character play out, though you have to wonder how long it could take. If it takes all 13 episodes of the first season, does that mean the show gets a new villain for the second season (assuming there will be one – and there will be)?

    The storyline I’m not convinced of yet is Det. Wysocki’s affair with his ex-wife when he has a girlfriend, and the whole niece/uncle connection he has with another young officer…not totally on board yet. But his friendship and former partnership with Beals’ character is what’s driving the ship for me

    The pilot was strong and had a fresh, exciting feel to it mixed with just a bit of emotion at the end. I am definitely looking forward to episode number two. Frankly, I’m just happy that there’s finally a good combo-show with House on Monday nights so I never have to watch The Bachelor ever, ever again, since that was the only other thing on besides Two and a Half Men (no thanks) and The Cape (definitely no thanks).  So, good for Fox for finding a cop show that stands out amongst the rest and feels both serial and procedural at the same time. Tune in Monday night on Fox at 9pm and judge for yourself.

    Overall Grade: B+ (with definite A potential)

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