Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Chicago Code

Sadly, the true misfortune of The Chicago Code getting canceled after one short season is that somehow Shawn Ryan and Tim Minear managed to produce a series that I don't really care is already over. I mean, it's a solid show, certainly above average for a police drama on a network. But it rarely went beyond that, and while it certainly had potential to turn into a great show, I never really saw enough of it get realized to the point where the cancellation felt like a big blow. It was an experiment that didn't quite work, and I kind of wish the creators had really done something riskier with it, because while trying to make a grittier, more nuanced cop show that was still broad enough to attract a wide audience, they didn't really succeed at either, and they still got cancelled in the first season. I haven't seen their previous team-up Terriers yet, but I have the feeling it will continue to have a strong cult following years from now, when Chicago Code is relegated to being the answer to a trivia question, a footnote among the wide swaths of series that no one really cared about.

Which is a shame, because there really was some good stuff here. Although it's a little too teal and orange for my tastes, the show still looks pretty great, making the city of Chicago seem like a really nice place to be despite the apparently rampant gang activity and political corruption. The show does action better than most cop shows that even try (a carryover from Ryan's The Shield), with some solid chases by car or foot and exciting standoffs. Although the show relies on having a new case every week until the end to attract irregular audiences, is still does a decent job of tying things back to the overarching plot relating the main characters' attempt to nab a powerful alderman, and when they finally get around to bringing that story to the forefront, it's handled pretty well. Although the show only ended up having one really great episode in my opinion (the second to last), it was still an enjoyable ride most of the time, even if it rarely aspired for more and the resolution was too quick and easy after the buildup.

The cast is pretty good, especially the main character and his partner. Brotherhood's Jason Clarke plays a McNulty-esque cop named Wysocki who cares more about good police work than niceties, although he has a much nicer relationship with his most prominent superior. His partner is Evers, new on the force and a bit clean-cut for Wysocki's tastes. Their relationship starts off as something of a cliche, but the writing and acting of the show make it seem natural, and the thing I'll miss most about the show is probably the development of their careers together. The other main characters are an assortment of cops at various levels, and Delroy Lindo as the corrupt alderman they target, who's also good at selling his dark side without letting you forget that he does do some good for the city. The show deserves some credit for being better and smarter than networks usually allow their series to be, but it's just not enough to take it from pretty good to something truly worth missing. More than anything it just made me want to watch other things by the producers, which is fine, but doesn't really speak for how well it stands out. I would have watched season two, but I'm not terribly bummed that it isn't happening.

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