The Chicago Code Review: Series Premiere

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My expectations for The Chicago Code couldn't have been higher. As someone who gets visibly angry any time I meet someone who has not watched The Shield, it's safe to say I was excited for Shawn Ryan's first creation since that drama.

And, while not perfect, the pilot episode did not disappoint.

It introduced viewers to a couple dedicated detectives; it set clear lines of battle; and it paid tribute to one of America's most picturesque cities. If the goal of any premiere is to invest viewers in what's at stake and what they can expect in the future, The Chicago Code certainly accomplished that task.

The Chicago Code Photo

The three lead characters all feel unique. Jarek Wysocki could easily be the cliche-ridden version of a cop that doesn't play by the rules, but that's not why he hasn't been able to keep a partner when we meet him.

It's because he does respect the rules, and he's lost patience with those in a corrupt city that continually break them. He doesn't think any partner can match his intensity and desire for justice... until he meets Caleb Evers.

A nice departure from the quiet high school student Matt Lauria played on
Friday Night Lights for two seasons, Caleb is good at his job and he knows it. How can we tell? When pressed, he admits to Wysocki: "I'm really good."

But Caleb also knows his role in this burgeoning partnership. He'll be driving the car and pulling all fire alarms for the foreseeable future. It's refreshing to see a young cop with a personality, as many other shows would have gone the odd couple-ish route of pairing up the grizzled veteran with the naive rookie. Instead, The Chicago Code unites a Cubs fan with a White Sox fan (great use of the home baseball teams in this exchange, giving personality to both the detectives and the city itself).

Then, there's Teresa Colvin. She's a bit more of the archetype you'd expect upon hearing that Jennifer Beals is portraying the Superintendent of Police. She's young and attractive and aware of how these traits make her look in the eyes of others. Hence, the obligatory scene of Colvin demoting a veteran and telling him Chicago is now "my city."

She needs to establish such dominance to her underlings and to the viewers.

The Chicago Code Premiere Pic

All three of these officers will tackle corruption in the Windy City, as led by the most corrupt of them all: Alderman Ronin Gibbons. Ideally, the show wouldn't have hit us over the head so strongly who how shady of a character this is (after asking his assistant to lick his ear, I was afraid Gibbons would twirl his mustache), but I understand the need to draw very clear lines at the outset. The audience has to know who to root for.

On The Shield, Ryan excelled at painting his antagonists in shades of grey (or something a lot darker for Vic Mackey), but he didn't spend a lot of time creating layers for any villains. It will be interesting to see how well we get to know Mr. Gibbons.

My only real complaint about the pilot episode? I hate voiceovers. I find them insulting and unnecessary and, in the case of Antonio getting shot, distracting. A story should be written well enough on its own so that the viewer is shocked and moved when such an incident takes place. It shouldn't need this kind of gimmick.

Because this one was used in such an overt and strange way, giving each lead his/her minute in the narrative spotlight, my best guess is that it was Ryan's decision to simply reveal a few pieces of background information in the most efficient way possible. Like ripping the band-aid off the past as quickly as possible and not worrying about the mess it might cause. I can grant him that. But I really hope we don't see it again.

And I'll definitely be there to find out. I'm on board. Save me a seat in that car, Jarek and Caleb. Because there have been countless police dramas, I'm sure we'll see many familiar set-ups in episodes to come, but due to its location, characters and grand ambition, The Chicago Code feels fresh. I'm anxious to see how the city punches back.

Aren't you?


Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (105 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


I love this show!!! Haters be still!!!


NO THANKS....I am a Detroit 1-8-7 fan and am angry that ABC (Another Bullsh*T Channel) screwed around with it so much, it didn't get the chance forstrong ratings...but with that being said....I did not care for Chicago Code; It's not in the caliber of NYPD BLUE or even today's SOUTHLAND...


I guess i just don't know any better based on everyone else's comments, but I find the show to be awesome. It's my favorite show on television right now and pretty high if not the top all time favorite. I hope this show goes on to make several seasons. I thought the casting was excellent. The storyline that's carried throughout the season has done plenty to keep me intrigued and waiting for the next week. I've haven't been disappointed yet. I have high hopes that this show continues.

Dee gardiner

I just love this show I think it one of the best new shows and hope it lasts a long time


I just finished watching the latest episode. It was about young black kid murdered in China town. It seemed like a compelling story at first, but then the side story was introduced with Jennifer Beals brother in law, and then the horrible acting began. I was hoping for a new gritty cop show. I loved the Wire, and am currently a huge fan of Southland. That show has excellent writing, superb acting most of the time. I can't reccomend this show. I doubt very much that it will survive this season. Watch something else instead.


I was very excited to see this show, especially being a Shield fan and a native Chicagoan. The stories so far are decent but sadly, this show is a dud, mostly because of the casting. Jennifer Beals is a super actress, but is miscast. I don't buy that she's the Superintendent. Worse though is the actor that plays Wysocki. He's boring and unlikeable. Also, where did he get that accent from?! Sounds like an Australian trying to do a Chicago accent, but it's coming out like a combination New York/Boston. Listen to when he asks his new partner "Cubs or Sox?" Definitely not a native Chicagoan. Sad. Delroy Lindo..Fantastic actor, but he's too 'New York' Anyway, I certainly won't be tuning into this show. Probably will be a hit, because folks don't know better. Mediocrity is KING!!


Couldn't stand the show. Jennifer Beals totally miscast and too weak. Actor playing Wysocki unlikable. Tried second episode, felt the same way. Chicago slums aren't my thing. Won't watch this show again. Prefer the articulate, well written and outstanding acting of White Collar, not to mention beautiful New York City.


This show is pretty good. It reminds me of one of my favorite tv crime dramas, "The Wire." I am disappointed that this show is done by fox instead of HBO or another movie channel, as it is limited by that "rushed" feeling of network tv; it could be more cinematic. The style and scenarios are very well done, although as a strong opponent of censorship, I'm left waiting for a bit more. Despite network tv's conservative nature, I am impressed by this and several other fox shows. ---Worth checking out.


This show is a joke. It is just a bunch of overblown stereotypes of what someone who was not raised in chicago, thinks chicago is like. This is going to be another ridiculous police show that has absolutely no truth to it. And i loved the shield, it was a great show. I took it with a grain of salt though, b/c it was done the same way. Over exaggerated and containing a lot of situations that would never ever ever happen. The only half-way decent and 'real' police drama out there is Southland. The greatest police drama since Third Watch. But yes, it is great to finally see a police show about Chicago. Still, and chicago resident or esp a chicago cop would vomit after watching this show. However, i still had about the same expectations for this as i did for Detroit 1-8-7. A show that for some reason thinks the 1-8-7 penal code in California for a homicide is represented nation wide. There is no such thing as a 1-8-7 in Detroit or Michigan penal codes. They lost a lot of viewer based just on the name.


Loved the show its fantastic. This is what it is supposed to be. Not hiding from the real problems. Not voiding it. but taking the punch to the face, This is the best show ever. You got to know it to beleive it. Truth is its just about god damm time.

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The Chicago Code Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Officer: This is my life!
Teresa: Yeah, but it's my city.

Teresa: Your partner has better instincts than you think.
Jarek: Too bad he's a Cubs fan.