Ok, first off, I would just like to say, this post has virtually nothing to do with politics...well...almost nothing. The Chicago Code, Shawn Ryan’s new police-oriented procedural-drama (weekly bad guys to stop mixed in with a longer story arc) is fast paced and entertaining, but it’s a far cry from Ryan’s previous police drama, The Shield, or Jason Clarke’s unfortunately cancelled Brotherhood. To be fair, The Shield was on FX, Fox’s edgy and courageous basic cable network, and Brotherhood was on premium cable’s Shotime, both of which tend to display far more creativity and departure from the broadcast networks’ need to appeal to the lowest common denominator in the American viewing public.
Jennifer Beals, Jason Clarke, and Delroy Lindo are certainly not to blame for the tepid feeling once gets while watching this show. Their performances are spectacular and from his demeanor and delivery Clarke has convinced me that Wysocki could fly off the handle at the drop of the hat if someone puts a fellow police officer in unnecessary danger. Unfortunately the procedural element, that each episode they will have one problem to solve and one bad guy to apprehend, diminishes the long story arc that shows like Brotherhood or The Wire were able to maintain. Catching Alderman Gibbons becomes a kind of side-story that will likely only happen upon cancellation of the show…or not at all.
Which brings me to my second problem with the show and that is the focus on political corruption. Of course Chicago is a great place to tell a story about machine politics and corruption in City Hall, but the kind of corruption appearing in the show, at least thus far, is a comical simulacrum of the real abuses that occur in City Halls across the country. From the concerned constituent who reports a possible crime to Gibbons only to end up murdered by his order, or the Irish street thugs being brought into Alderman Gibbons’ office for a chat are overly visible actions that would not go unnoticed in our post 9-11 security framework. What it does provide is a very simple narrative for the broad viewership base that Fox is hoping to attract. And don’t even get me started on the police informant Liam who does everything wrong for an undercover officer and would be dead already if David Simon were writing this show.
So there it is…what was a great hope for a new series that could follow in the footsteps of The Shield, is unfortunately pandering too broadly to the masses and will probably last two, perhaps three seasons before it is abruptly canceled to make way for another crappy reality show from Fox.