Tag Archives: Chicago Fire

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.



Fall 2012 Preview and Predictions: NBC

11 Sep

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall (now spring!) television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  14+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  13- – the show is cancelled before 13)


NBC has the first debuts this year so we’ll start there.  The last place network, which is coming off a super popular Olympics high, has six new shows initially scheduled to air this fall.  Let’s take a look.

Go On – 9/11

Go On aired a special pilot sneak preview in August, as NBC tried to take advantage of the one time people were actually watching, during the Olympics to promote a couple of its new shows.  You can read my full review of the pilot here, but here’s the basic premise.  Friends veteran Matthew Perry is an egomaniacal sports talk radio shock jock who is forced by his employers to attend grief therapy while dealing with the death of his wife.  He helps out the other members of the therapy group, while also learning from them, etc, etc.

Verdict:  14+ I don’t see it going that far – it’s just not that good, and while obviously that means little to nothing in what happens to shows on network television, I don’t think audiences will connect – I don’t really see it’s audience – not Community enough for that crowd, or Whitney enough for that crowd (I hope that’s not really a crowd).  Perry’s name will get it the full season pick up though.  Also, it’s better than Mr. Sunshine, which is worth something I suppose.

Animal Practice – 9/26

The other NBC show which got a shot at airing during the Olympics, a full review can be found here.  It’s about a veterinarian who loves animals, but not so much their owners.  He’s now forced to work with the new owner of his animal hospital, who is an old flame, who is returning after having not seen him for a couple of years.  Also a couple of wacky sidekicks and a monkey that does human stuff.  So that’s cool.

Verdict:  13-  Honestly, a quick look over the fall shows (and maybe I’ll regret this when I get to CBS or Fox) tells me there are far fewer crazy obvious instant cancellations like The Playboy Club and I Hate My Teenage Daughter (and Last Man Standing…oh, wait).  Something’s got to get cancelled.  Probably quite a few somethings.  This utterly forgettable show will likely be one of them.

Chicago Fire – 10/10

Too soon for a reference to a disaster that killed hundreds and destroyed over three square miles of downtown Chicago?  House’s Jesse Spencer is the lead in an ensemble show focusing on the exciting and fast-paced lives of firefighters and paramedics in Chicago (the non-police two thirds of Third Watch).  It’s less overused than cops for sure, so small amount of credit there, but it offhanded screams out generic procedural (I really think the logic was um, cops, been there – how about firefighters?), maybe with some personal life business to get you all attached to those characters.  We’ll see though.

Verdict:  Renewed – crapshoot 101.  NBC has not been a big home to procedurals of late, but they’ve got new management and probably want to follow the CBS model to success, with at least one.  Prime Suspect did fail miserably last year, but boy, NBC would take almost anything right now.  Oh, and it’s produced by a guy named Dick Wolf who used to have some pull around NBC.   Dick Wolf claims he chose Chicago over Law & Order’s NYC to be different but if you don’t think it’s because of the name you’re kidding yourself (future overseas spin off The Great London Fire?  Think about it).

Guys With Kids – 9/26

Jimmy Fallon co-created this sitcom which stars Law & Order verteran Anthony Anderson, Whitest Kid U Know Zach Cregger, and general actor who is in a bunch of things but no one super notable role Jesse Bradford as three dads with young kids, “desperately trying to remain dudes” as the official NBC web site tells us.  Two are married, one is divorced.  Anderson is married to Cosby Show daughter Tempest Bledsoe and Cregger is married to Sopranos daughter Jamie-Lynn Sigler.  Can they remain “cool” with little kiddies by their side?  Only time will tell.  It seems incredibly uninspired but who knows these days.

Verdict – 13- – it’s got the Jimmy Fallon backing and early reports say that it might be better than I instinctively thought (any show about dudes trying to remain dudes just reeks off the bat but comedies are less premise dependent than dramas) But again, it’s NBC so I have to assume that a fair amount of their shows will get cancelled.

The New Normal – 9/11

Ryan Murphy kind of owns television these days.  Glee is still going str…well, going.  American Horror Story made some splashes last fall and will be back.  And this year he’s got a more traditional comedy featuring a less traditional group of folks.  A career oriented gay couple decides they want a kid, and hire a surrogate mother from the Midwest who has an 8 year old kid of her own who comes out west where they live.  She’s accompanied by her racist, homophobic grandmother (I’m kind of guessing about the racist, homophobic part).  And now, they’re THE NEW NORMAL.  It smells a lot like Modern Family, for better or worse.

Verdict:  Renewal – Ryan Murphy’s on something of a role these days, and what network wouldn’t kill for even a shot at the next Modern Family, which will be winning Best Comedy Emmys like Rafael Nadal wins French Opens (Congrats Andy Murray by the way!).

Revolution – 9/17

JJ Abrams 101.  A post-apocalyptic future where the power is out, for good.  Without electricity, the world descends into chaos with militias and warlords and what not ruling their own patches of earth.  Is the supernatural involved?  Who knows.  Our own roving band of misfits is being pursued by a particular militia.  Actors included Twilight grad Billy Burke, Lost grad Elizabeth Mitchell (and a star of V, cementing her sci-fi TV cred), Gustavo Fring himself, Giancarlo Esposito, and a bunch of relative newbies.  After failure after failure (see:  Terra Nova, The Event, V., Flashforward), hope for the next Lost remains.

Verdict: Renewal – I know this is wrong, I just know it, I’m making the exact same mistake I made with Terra Nova, but man, one of these shows has to succeed eventually, right, or they’d stop making them?  Plus the JJ Abrams imprimatuer could buy it a couple of extra episodes at least?  Maybe?