TV Review - Chicago Fire

Taylor Kinney in "Chicago Fire"
I appreciate that the show is set in the city of Chicago and Chicago is actually where principal photography takes place. The city is used to great effect. Despite the disasters depicted, Chicago looks good. What else looks good is the cast of actors here. The beautiful men and women on screen are all stunning, the leads especially, but even the supporting players are all handsome. Taylor Kinney, for example, who plays Kelly Severide has the sexiest eyes of any man currently on television. Monica Raymund who plays Gabriela Dawson really impressed me last year on The Good Wife where she had a juicy role and here she continues to be a smart and gorgeous girl. Just for the privilege of seeing the deliciousness that is Kinney and Raymund, I would recommend this show to anyone, but superficial pleasures are really the only pleasures to be had by Chicago Fire so far.

Dick Wolf, the creator of Law & Order, executive produces this series about a group that works inside a firehouse and the personal lives that come into play. This is different from Law & Order because Law & Order and its various spin-offs aren't about the personal lives of the professionals. It's always about the cases, the procedural aspects, the mystery, the suspects, the victims, etc. Dick Wolf has had success with this franchise and this formula for decades, but now, all of a sudden, he wants to try something different. It's not as if personal lives never bled into the Law & Order shows, but they were never the focus, and even when Law & Order did focus on personal lives, it was always built on or came out of issues within whatever cases were at hand.

Writers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas don't seem to get that. They craft a good springboard, which has an obvious ripple effect on the entire cast, but a clear connection that the writers could have made in episode two doesn't happen. David Eigenberg plays Christopher Herrmann, a middle-aged firefighter, who apparently has some financial trouble. He's seen moving out his house, possibly getting kicked out, in the first episode. In the second episode, the firefighters encounter a man who's scared of losing his home but Herrmann is nowhere to be found. A great opportunity is therefore wasted. Eigenberg who was quite good on Sex and the City could have had an appropriate and meaningful, character moment, but even the writers don't see well enough to do that and they're the ones fabricating the whole thing.

Instead, that moment is given to Jesse Spencer (House M.D.) who plays Matthew Casey. The only thing you get to know about Casey is that he's good-looking and blond. He has a wife, but their relationship is strained and he feels guilty about a rescue that went bad and ended with the death of a fellow firefighter. This guilt will most likely be explicated through upcoming episodes, but aside from Severide jumping in his face in a totally unneeded, shirtless scene for Kinney, no weight or consequence is given to Casey. His guilt is just something that's there and not used to any effect or possessing any purpose. Casey is just set up as the guy who feels bad for people. He's the more sensitive or empathetic one, but why the audience should care about that is not pinned down early enough for anyone to grab.

The writers might have a plan to which they're building. It's just not evident in the first, two episodes. In the meantime, we should be entertained by other things, but, sadly, we're not. There's a scene in the second episode where guys in the firehouse discuss the goat symbol on the fire truck. It's something that's reminiscent of Rescue Me on FX. The only problem is that it's nowhere near interesting and it's light-years away from being funny, which is what Denis Leary always had to bank on. There's even a moment when the guys pull a practical joke on the new firefighter named Peter Mills, played by Charlie Barnett, another ridiculously handsome actor that makes up this ridiculously handsome cast. The practical joke is something right out of Rescue Me, except it's so lame.

Severide has a total, Tommy Gavin moment when he basically has to juggle three women whom may or may not have had access to his bed. The moment comes out of nowhere and leads to nothing. At least on Rescue Me, we would have gotten some kind of setup and punchline with rhythm within that episode. Instead, the moment simply feels clunky. It feels like the second episode in general just ends in a clunky way.

It's interesting to see the firefighters do more than just fight fires. The firehouse also handles car wrecks and water rescues, but if I were Dick Wolf, I'd fire these writers because I like Taylor Kinney, Monica Raymund and Charlie Barnett, but they need better material.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-DLV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Airs Wednesdays at 10PM on NBC.


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