Skip to content

Chicago Coded? A Few Observations About Shawn Ryan’s New Cop Show

February 8, 2011

Jason Clarke and Jennifer Beals star in Fox's The Chicago Code

Hard to believe there was a dialect coach on the case because there were points during the pilot episode of the hotly anticipated The Chicago Code where the accent slid away from the Australian lead as though he were starring on a episode of Without a Trace. That said, I like this Jason Clarke cat a lot. He might take the HBM slot vacated by the recently kicked to the curb Michael Rapaport. What I liked about Clarke’s performance as Jarek Wysocki, the bad ass, grizzly, goodish cop, was how natural it felt. He seemed to be aware that we didn’t know him from Adam and that he’d need to earn the right to prance around like a rockstar.

There are very few pilots that understand nobody wants to be overwhelmed by tedious amounts of backstory. I wasn’t born yesterday; I can take for granted these characters existed with complicated histories, traumas and triumphs prior to my being introduced to them. The Chicago Code understood this explicitly and that’s 80% of the reason why I’m invested enough to come back next week. Despite having some sharp performances, smart leads – Delroy, you are getting er done – there are a few characters who I hope will have their roles reduced or possibly eliminated. First on the chopping block: Jennifer Beals’, who is out of her element in the gritty cop arena.

This role has got C.C.H. Pounder all over it. Or April Grace. The problem isn’t Beals’ performances – she’s usually on point – the problem lies with her characterization. Basically, the reason the highest ranking law enforcement officer is a woman (not sure how Beals’ character is racially coded) is because Alderman Gibbons (Delroy Lindo) believed she would function in the role as essentially a puppet, which looking like Jennifer Beals seems entirely plausible. So this dramatic detour by her character Teresa Colvin, acting in her capacity as police commissioner rings false, and capable as Beals might be, she basically wilts in scenes with Lindo’s Gibbons. Nothing about her character suggests she’s that much of a bad ass.

Actually, the female characters are under written, peripheral – not a single Det. Kay Howard or Capt. Zoe Callas in the bunch – or throwbacks to the kind of damsels, harpy exes and chatty hookers, which used to populate 70s cop shows and seem woefully anachronistic. Now this only the first episode. These characters and their stories do need time to develop and given that Shawn Ryan has never come whack on an old school track before, I’m inclined give Ryan a wider berth than I would another showrunner.

Advertisements
6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 8, 2011 6:56 pm

    IS THAT BETTE PORTER?!?!??!!??!
    I have to watch this now.

  2. February 9, 2011 7:55 am

    I disagree with you about Beals’ character. I read her as having to be even tougher than a tough broad to compensate for her good looks, which are ample. And I’m super-happy she’s getting a meatier part than Tim Roth’s ex-wife and occasional bedmate.

    What really excites me about this show is that they’ve set up a story arc, a la Damages, right from the start. What I’m afraid of is that the show catches on and they choose to not resolve the competition between the crusading commish and the crooked alderman, which really has one season written all over it.

  3. February 9, 2011 10:10 am

    I disagree with you about Beals’ character. I read her as having to be even tougher than a tough broad to compensate for her good looks, which are ample. And I’m super-happy she’s getting a meatier part than Tim Roth’s ex-wife and occasional bedmate.

    Ha. Point taken. You might be right. I guess I wanted to see someone tougher and less pretty, in the way that television understands such things, in the role.

  4. February 9, 2011 10:22 am

    Well, it’s believable that someone like Gibbons would anoint someone attractive because he’s obviously vain like that, and would likely have overlooked her other considerable assets because he undervalues women.

  5. Jillamina permalink
    February 16, 2011 8:33 pm

    Charming interview with Jennifer Beals on Q from the CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/q/weekly/2011/02/11/this-week-on-q-36/

  6. kyle permalink
    February 22, 2011 7:37 am

    as if!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: