Anyone who know’s me, or at least knows my television tastes, knows that I am huge fan of the procedural drama. They’re like TV’s comfort food for me, and I can remember watching episodes of Law & Order and N.Y.P.D. Blue as far back as middle school. The last year here at Free For All has meant watching a lot more television than I even imagined possible, but I’ve not let one of my favorite genres fall by the wayside. In fact, recently discovering shows like Castle have given me an appreciation for shows that take that time-tested formula and find new ways to make me love it all over again. Even more recently, I got the opportunity to watch another show that I think does something similar, taking what could be a generic procedural and giving it an edge and style that make me want more immediately. That show is Chicago P.D..
Chicago P.D. is a spinoff series of NBC’s very popular Chicago Fire, a show I sadly missed the boat on, but now have every intention of going back and catching up on. Luckily though, knowledge of Chicago Fire is not needed to jump right into Chicago P.D., and the show’s pilot episode wastes no time at all in getting you into the action. Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) is the head of the Intelligence Unit at District 21 in Chicago, a group of plain clothes detectives who sometimes bend the rules to get the job done, and make no apologies for doing so. It becomes apparent very quickly that this will be a defining characteristic of Chicago P.D., and it’s what gives the show the edge I mentioned previously.
Joining Sergeant Voight is a group of detectives that each bring something unique to the show. Detective Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda) becomes a central focus of the show in it’s early episodes (don’t worry, I want you to watch, so I won’t be spoiling anything here), and Seda does a great job of striking a balance between family man and dedicated cop. He’s put into situations where he has to decide what kind of cop, and ultimately, what kind of man, he’s going to be, and that makes for some fantastic drama. Detective Erin Lindsay (Sophia Bush) also stand out within the fairly large cast. Somewhat under the wing of Voight, but also a bit of a badass in her own right, it’s wonderful to see Bush playing in a role that is new for her, at least from what I’ve seen personally, and she plus it off without missing a beat. Detective Alvin Olinsky (Elias Koteas) and Officer Adam Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) are the two other cast members I have to mention. Koteas plays Olinsky perfectly, letting you know immediately that there is so much more than meets the eye there. And Flueger plays the new kid on the block expertly, giving you a character you can relate to in a strange sort of way, as he experiences some of the same things you do as a viewer, for the first time.
District 21 has more issues than just the bad guys though. There is a completely different side to this police station, made up of the more straight and narrow uniformed cops, and maybe more importantly, higher-ups that are not huge fans of the way Voight’s crew gets things done. In particular, Lt. Bruce Belden (Kurt Naebig) and Voight butt heads early on, and it makes for great drama. Whether this particular story string stays around is yet to be seen, but I for one am hoping that it does. The internal issues of District 21 juxtaposed against the conflict between the more classic criminals out on the street is a really great aspect of the show thus far.
Chicago P.D. makes some bold moves in its first two episodes. Your expectations are sometimes spot on, but at other times are completely incorrect, and its nice to not be completely sure of what’s coming next. If you are in any way a fan of procedural dramas, or hell, even if you’re not, take some time and give this show a fair shake. I think you’ll be surprised at how great it has the potential to be. And I’ll leave you with that final thought. The show has amazing potential, with a great, albeit slightly too large, cast and superb writing. But only time will tell if Chicago’s finest will have what it takes to keep it up all season long. I’ll be sure and let you know, one way or another, when I revisit the show for a season one review in just a few short months.