I reviewed “The Chicago Code” at length this morning, so I’ll have some brief spoiler-y thoughts on the pilot episode coming up just as soon as I’m promoted to Commander of Mops and Brooms…
Again, go read this morning’s review for more general reasons on why I liked the show, but here are some things I noticed/wondered about the pilot:
• What aired tonight had some notable tweaks from the version critics first saw in the summer. Most of the changes were designed to beef up the presence of Delroy Lindo and Jennifer Beals and of the show’s political interests, but also in some cases to clarify things. One area where I’m still not sure they entirely made it work was in explaining how Jarek figures out that Liam is an undercover cop. The new version at least has Teresa mention that she has a cop inside the organization, but there’s still something of a leap from that to Liam meeting up with Jarek at the police memorial. On the other hand, Liam was used nicely to establish the bonafides of Jarek’s young partner Caleb, but in all, the pilot had to cover a ton of ground and this was one area I think they never quite hit.
• Speaking of Caleb, good to see Matt Lauria actually playing an adult after being a fairly unconvincing teen on “Friday Night Lights” for two seasons. However old he is, though, it felt like the characters’ references were even older. The Phoebe Cates pool scene (note: link is to the PG-13 version) from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” is an all-timer, but it’s also nearly 30 years old. Wouldn’t Caleb be more likely to talk about a nude scene from some late ’80s/early ’90s movie?
• Not that I’ve had a real issue with her in the past, but I was surprised by how much I liked Beals. There’s that moment where Teresa walks up to the five corners crime scene and she looks so happy and confident and commanding – the kind of screen presence that you either have or you don’t. She has it.
• As I mentioned in the review, narration often feels like a crutch, but I like how this show marries it to those flashback visuals – and I particularly enjoyed how the final piece of voiceover was interrupted in the middle by the death of Teresa’s sidekick.
• I’m sure we have some Chicagoans in the audience here. How’d y’all feel about the accents adopted by Beals (a Chicago native, who, as she noted in her interview with me, grew up without an accent), Clarke (an Aussie) and Lauria (largely raised in Ireland)?
• Though he’s best known for “The Shield,” Ryan has been involved in producing more hours of broadcast network TV shows than he has cable, so it’s not a surprise that he’d be capable of working within the limits of FOX’s Standards & Practices after so many years of raw Vic Mackey adventures. I’m curious how people feel about the way they try to address that, by having Jarek be a stickler about profanity so that you understand why no one’s cursing in his presence.
• Not surprisingly given what I do, I grew up obsessed with the writing of Roger Ebert, and it always seemed to me that he gave a bit of hometown scorekeeping to any movie filmed in Chicago, and I would roll my eyes whenever he would single out some specific Chicago location in his reviews. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized it’s not just a local bias, but the fact that Chicago is just an incredible place to film for this kind of show, and Shawn Ryan and the studio and the city have done a great job of making sure “The Chicago Code” takes advantage of it. The usual fine work from ace pilot direct Charles McDougall.
Anyway, what did everybody else think overall? You intrigued enough to come back for seconds next week?