TV Review: THE CHICAGO CODE

Though Shawn Ryan’s The Chicago Code (FOX, Mondays, 9 p.m.) isn’t the most innovative cop show ever, its style and content make it immensely watchable. Jennifer Beals stars as Teresa Colvin, the Chicago Police Department’s first female superintendent. She assembles a secret task force to take down corrupt alderman Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo), who put her in charge because he thought she’d play nice. Having no official backing or funding, she has only two team members, her ex-partner Detective Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke) and his new partner, Caleb Evers (Friday Night Lights‘ Matt Lauria).

The show carries a few Ryan trademarks: snappy dialogue, whiplash-fast pacing, and excellent acting. If you saw The Shield‘s pilot, you probably weren’t surprised (I was expecting it) when ***mild spoiler alert!!*** a seemingly integral part of the task force was fatally shot.

***end spoiler***

Not sure if I like the voiceovers from multiple characters’ POV and don’t know if it’s necessary. (Don’t love it on Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives, either, but at least they stick to only one narrator.) The show has enough going for it, though, that I’m willing to put up with the narration if it doesn’t get too distracting.

Beals, who has become more beautiful and a better actress over time, exudes a breezy confidence as Colvin, wearing her power lightly but never letting us or her underlings forget who’s boss. That isn’t as easy to do as it sounds. I remember when Mariska Hargitay started out on Law & Order: SVU as Detective Benson. She was trying so hard to act tough, it was painful to watch. She eventually relaxed into the role, doing something Beals seems to have figured out from the get-go: If you’re in control, you just are and don’t have to prove it.

Clarke is hard-nosed without being a jerk and you wouldn’t know he’s Australian from his Chicago accent (though I don’t know how authentic it is). Lauria is appealing as the baby-faced cop whom Wysocki underestimates at first. Lindo covers his sleaziness with smooth indignation, making him a formidable opponent and someone I’ll enjoy watching Colvin’s team take down.

Nerd verdict: Code crackles

Did you watch this? What did you think?

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Coffee and a Book Chick
    February 8, 2011 at 4:42 am

    I’m excited to watch this – I absolutely believe that Jennifer Beals has been an under-appreciated actress in Hollywood. She was in Flashdance a gazillion years ago which just seemed to hold her back, and was never able to land solid roles in films. I enjoyed her work on Showtime, but I really wanted her to get in the mainstream again with films. Maybe this show will help launch her back in the public eye again, which is so deserved. My husband and I DVR’d the show and are watching it tonight!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 8, 2011 at 5:50 pm

      Let me know what you think, N.!

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    February 8, 2011 at 10:47 am

    I missed this last night, but you have me very interested with this review, Elyse. What timing, too. Rachel and I will be looking at Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress book/film this month in a joint post and Jennifer will definitely get a mention. I’m with Coffee and a Book Chick on the subject of Beal’s under-appreciation. Thanks.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 8, 2011 at 5:52 pm

      Though Beals has been underrated, I’m glad she’s still around. The industry tends to put older women out to pasture once they reach a certain age. I look forward to your and Rachel’s post.

  • Reply
    EIREGO
    February 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    **Spoiler**

    Jennifer’s accent was disconcerting for me at first, but I got over it as episode went along. I thought the way they killed Antonio was really intense. Not the method in which he was shot but the way the narration played out. I’ll watch again.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm

      Apparently, that scene was a Scorsese homage, specifically Casino.

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    February 9, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Much of my viewing is cop shows, so I’ll gladly check this one out if it arrives over here. Thanks for the heads-up on the narration, PCN. I actually quite like it in Grey’s but can take it or leave it in Desperate Housewives and it can easily irk me, so at least I can prepare myself for it!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 9, 2011 at 11:08 am

      Are you familiar with Jason Clarke’s work down there? He has a lot of Australian TV credits.

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