Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Show Review: "The Chicago Code"

Delroy Lindo is a complete badass on "The Chicago Code"
Credit: FOX

A crazy schedule over the past couple weeks has prevented me from getting to reviewing The Chicago Code until today. Without further ado, my review of the new FOX drama "The Chicago Code" is after the jump.

Every year a ton of police procedurals debut. Most of them blend into the background because they are generic and don't do anything outstanding but occasionally one stands out because there's something about the show that makes it stand out. "The Chicago Code", created by Shawn Ryan of such shows as "The Shield" and "Terriers", is easily the best new show of the season so far because it stands out above the rest with its good writing, strong characters, a talented cast and intriguing story arc. 

The show follows the new Chicago Police Superintendent Teresa Colvin (played by Jennifer Beals) as she tries to improve the city of Chicago by stopping corruption. She specifically goes after city Councilman Aldermon Gibbons (played by Delroy Lindo). She enlists the help of Detective Jarek Wysocki (played by Jason Clarke) and his partner Caleb Evans (played by Matt Lauria). They have help on the inside from undercover cop Liam Hennessey (played by Billy Lush). The series also follows Jarek's niece officer Vonda Wysock (played by Devin Kelley) and her partner officer Issac Joiner (played by Todd Williams).

Each episode of the series usually has some sort of case going on with the serialized plotline going on in the background. This is where most cop shows go wrong, they don't include a compelling serialized element keeping me coming back each week. Teresa's attempt to bring down Gibbons is not only interesting but is well plotted and well written as well. It helps that Delroy Lindo is a fantastic actor and his character is very compelling. I've enjoyed how this has played out, with Gibbons slowly showing how powerful he is and how far he's willing to go in episode three. It's scary how powerful Gibbons is and how much control over the city he has. This was a fantastic showcase for Delroy Lindo, who is an amazing actor and takes the screen in every scene that he's onscreen.

Another arc that's continuing through multiple episodes is Teresa's plan to push out officers that are either corrupt or that she doesn't like. This leads to the killing of Antonio Betz and to other problems throughout the series. I'm intrigued by how far this arc will go and where Ryan and company will take the arc. It's clear that it has meaning in the series and to the Superintendent so I'm intrigued to see where it goes from here.

The cases are fairly interesting. Episode one's case was OK but it took the background to the introduction of Gibbons and Colvin's case against him. Episode two had a much more interesting case, resolving the cliffhanger in episode one, with the cop shooting. This case was much more compelling because all of the characters had personal stakes in it. This is where cases are more interesting, when the characters truly care and have a personal stake in the case. This added a level of interest that I rarely get when watching a cop show and it had me hooked. Episode three's case of the week was less interesting but it allowed the actors to showcase their talents, which is better then the average procedural plotline.

Jason Clarke is fantastic as Jarek Wysocki, a cop who largely runs on his own. Jason Clarke is giving a great performance as Wysocki and it shows. Scenes like the scene in the church at the end of episode 2 (*) and the scene in the locker room in episode three really showed his talent. He's a very good center to the show and it's great to have him on my screen.

(*) Which also had a great performance by Broadway great Betty Buckley.

His partner, played by Matt Lauria, is a character where I don't necessarily buy into his motives for partnering with Wysocki. He considers Wysocki a stepping stone to greatness. Unless he actually cares about Wysocki I don't think Caleb would stay with him. I guess that's a part of Caleb's growth for the series, realizing Wysocki is a good partner. Lauria is giving a serviceable performance and he does fit into the show.

Jennifer Beals is very, very good as Superintendent Colvin. It's clear that she's being used to her full potential. She is able to stand in the same picture as Delroy Lindo and stand out. That is an achievement in itself. The scene when Colvin realized that Gibbons played her is fantastic because she's giving a powerhouse performance. I have bought into her character's quest to take down corruption in the city and that's because Beals sells it so well.

Again, Delroy Lindo is a fantastic actor. He makes Gibbons a menacing character and steals every scene for which he's onscreen. The character is the big presence he needs to be because Lindo is such a good actor and he owns the screen. He's a scary presence, episode three clearly showed that. 

I haven't exactly figured out why it's necessary to have Vonda Wysocki and Issac Joiner in the show. They don't really have a major presence and they don't really play a major role. I'm not opposed to their presence but the reason for its existence hasn't been made clear yet. This is something I hope the show addresses in the future. Kelley and Williams are giving good performances and I have no opposition to having their presence on my screen.

Billy Lush is giving a very good performance as undercover officer Liam Hennessey. It's always interesting when he checks in and when we see exactly what he has to deal with on a daily basis. This is a character who I hope the show fleshes out during the run.

I really like this show and look for me to be covering it on a weekly basis.

For those who have seen it, what do you think of "The Chicago Code?"

The Chicago Code airs Mondays at 9PM ET on FOX.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there I believe the chicago code had a great start. I am in to police shows and this one has really down it. However I have to disagree with you when you said Jason Clarke played a good role. I don't know but I didn't think he did so well. We'll see farther into the season though.


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