Chicago PD Review: Formulaic But Full Of Potential

By Jessica Rawden 2014-01-07 10:08:08 discussion comments
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If youíve tuned into Chicago Fire over the course of its run, thereís a good chance youíve met the brash and unintimidated Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe), a cop with his own set of morals who has been pegged by the firehouse as one of the biggest bad guys in town. In Chicago PD, the writers have written the same detective as a man who puts Chicago first. Heís a man who is willing to bend the rules somewhat to make sure his team closes cases. Heíll take bribes and information from thugs in order to get ahead, but he also has a tender side and will fight for the people he feels are worthy. Itís a refreshing angle for a network TV police officer to have, but otherwise Chicago PD is quite formulaic.

The spinoff series takes place some time after Voight has gotten out of jail and is busy putting together a brand new detective unit. It becomes clear pretty quickly that he has some enemies on the force, but since heís also been given a brand new detail, he seems to have some high-up friends, as well. Voightís new team is actually a pretty large enterprise, comprised of two beat cops (Marina Squerciati and LaRoyce Hawkins) and several detectives (Jon Seda, Jesse Lee Soffer, Elias Koteas and Sophia Bush). Early episodes involve a Columbian thug getting under the PDís seemingly thick skin; a kidnapping also amps up the stakes.

Peppered into the first few episodes are plenty of Chicago Fire cameos, which is an interesting dynamic for the new series. The Fire crew is not typically in awe of their PD counterparts. In fact, many jokes have been made in that series at the PDís expense, and thereís plenty of distrust between the two groups on that series when they are forced to work together. During the first few episodes of Chicago PD, however, the infights seem to be a thing of the past. Instead, the police department spends time at Christopher and Otisí bar and Gabriela Dawson (Monica Raymund) pops up on several occasions to help the unit out.

Despite all of the crossover moments, Chicago PD feels like a different series. For one thing, the show isnít incurring the wrath of firefighters everywhere by staging over-the-top fire and rescue operations. While PDís vibe is also one of overt drama, itís also strikingly more serious than its predecessor. Thereís no goofing around or relationship melodramaóat least thus far. There are fewer wisecracks, too, and while the character show plenty of spunk and grit, much of the conversation during the drama gets down to business pretty quickly.

I doubt Dick Wolf was aiming for ďthe most serious cop dramaĒ on TV when he pitched Chicago PD to NBC. While the dialogue and tone could change as the show finds its own rhythm, itís not a standout in its current format. The show doesnít have the goofy charm of Hawaii Five-0 and thereís a lack of quippy dialogue that programs like NCIS offer. It doesnít have a unique look or a diverse cast. What it does have is Jason Beghe, and that might be reason enough for some to tune in.

Beghe may have been set up as a bad guy during his former incarnation, but heís doing some fine work to prove that Chicago PD is more than just another throwaway spinoff. His character is intense and his motivations arenít always clear. He spends the first couple of episodes attempting to mold a few team members in his own image, and the results could prove to be must-watch TV. If the writers also do some molding, Chicago PD could shape up to match the effort Beghe is putting in.

Chicago PD airs on Wednesdays at 10/9 C on NBC.
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