TV Review: “The Chicago Code”

Written by Television, TV Reviews

Fox’s new cop drama “The Chicago Code” is fast-paced, smart, and brings emotion to an action-based genre.

The middle of winter may seem like a dry spell for TV, especially when repeats start to dominate the airwaves. But if you’re in need of a something new, The Chicago Code is definitely a contender. A fast-paced, layered cop drama from Shawn Ryan, the executive producer of The Shield and Terriers, The Chicago Code is solid.

Highlighting the police force in Chicago, the show features three main characters. There’s Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals, The L Word), who is the focused and driven superintendent dedicated to justice. Long time partner and friend of Colvin, Detective Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke) is the tough and volatile police officer, who pisses off many, but is someone you definitely want in your corner. The up-and-coming young detective, Caleb Evers (Friday Night Lights’s Matt Lauria), rounds out the group with innocence, ambition, and intuition. Each character loves the job, the rush, and the honor. But there’s more to each person than their stock identity, and the show is just starting to peel back the layers piece by piece.

In addition to the intriguing characters, the plot has guts. With a “case of the week” episodic approach that follows high pressure situations like mentally ill bank robbers, it’s easy to get sucked in and feel satisfied by the hour. But underneath the more typical structure is a long lead investigation of corruption, with Gibbons (Delroy Lindo) as the main political target. Even with an underlying feel of loyalty to the badge, the law enforcement itself isn’t without its own corruptions and complications. The balance of immediate satisfaction with a more complex case is one of the show’s best features, and blends together elements of the critically acclaimed The Wire with the popular Law & Order.

The one thing that doesn’t seem to fit the formula is the occasional voice over from various characters. Sure, it gives a bit of insight into their thoughts, but does so in a more soapy, introspective way than the tone of the rest of the show. Although, it’s a minor setback for a series with a strong cast and superb writing.

Cop dramas don’t always have the most broad appeal, but with the fast pace and smart dialogue, along with the style greatly informed by shooting on location in Chicago, there’s a momentum to this show. And it can pack an emotional punch, particularly the end of the pilot episode, when a cop who had been saved from the streets was killed protecting Colvin. If you’re a fan of the genre, and are looking to add some action into your weekly line-up, The Chicago Code is definitely worth checking out.

The Chicago Code airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. on Fox.