Fall 2012 Review: Chicago Fire

24 Oct

 Chicago Fire (I’d make an MLS joke here, but no one would get it, in fact I’ll spell out Major League Soccer, which has a Chicago Fire team because I think most people don’t even know what MLS stands for) is about a group of firefighters and paramedics in Chicago.  In the first five minutes, we see one of the team die in a fire, and two of primary figures at the firehouse are at loggerheads a month later over responsibility for the death, while trying to live on with their daily responsibilities at work and home.

The rest of the hour is a day in the life the crew.  They fight fires and rescue people, putting their lives on the line every job, while taking the risk that if they make the wrong decision in the heat of battle, it’s on them.  We learn about life at the firehouse and the mostly bonding but occasional infighting that goes on there, between the different cliques,including  the regular firefighters and the rescue squad.  The new guy comes in and the other firefighters show him the ropes, horse around, and have a couple of laughs at his expense.  The revered veteran chief  (played by Eamonn Walker, better known to me as Said from Oz) offers wisdom, and does his best to separate the fighting parties when conflicts arise and unite his men (and women, but mostly men).

Our main firefighter, Matthew Casey (played by House’s Jesse Spencer, who shed most of his hair and his native Australian accent for the role) has trouble at home, as he’s quasi-possibly-separated from his fiancé, (which he hasn’t told any of his friends/coworkers), due at least partly to the impact of his friend and fellow firefighter’s death.

Man, being a firefighter is some seriously heavy shit, but they have their moments of levity as well.  There’s the towering  highs of saving a little girl’s life from a dangerous car accident side by side with the painful lows of another firefighter getting injured and requiring serious surgery, along with the feel good tomfoolery of watching their chief fight in a fire-police boxing match.   Then, just in time, when a fire strikes, the two enemies from the beginning unite in the heat of battle.

We’ve seen this show before, it’s just usually with cops and sometimes doctors, rather than fireman (I haven’t seen Third Watch but I imagine this is similar).  It’s fine.  It is what it is (an irritating expression, but still apt here).  There’s families, there’s hurt, there’s that camaraderie that only comes from being members of the same tribe that puts their lives on the line every day.  We’re meant to feel like we’re getting an insider’s view on the special relationships that go on inside that firehouse and that our emotions are on the line every time they step into a blaze.  There’s nothing that lifts this show above the realm of the generic though, no outstanding dialogue, or artistry, or characterization.

Note:  I keep calling this show Chicago Code, a short-lived cop show from a couple of years ago, that probably nobody remembers, and I didn’t realize I did until I keep calling this show that.

Will I watch it again?  No.  As I said above, it’s fine.  I’m sure some people would like it, and that’s okay. I wouldn’t call it bad as much as I would rather say it just doesn’t stand out.  It’s one of those shows that is exactly what you think it is, and you don’t really need to watch it to know whether you’re going to like it.  It’s more unmemorable than it is good or bad, which is inherently not positive, but compared to many shows, relatively not negative.

 

 

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