Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Chicago Code - 1x03 "Gillis, Chase and Baby Face"

I guess I miss The Wire? And that's, like, why I'm bothering with a network cop show?

Unsurprisingly, The Chicago Code doesn't compare favorably to The Wire because it's a completely different species of tv show: it happily deploys police procedural conventions and cliches, it's starkly moralistic (everyone is either clearly good or bad, with few if any moral shadings, and if they have any ethical dimensionality, they're pushed to such extremes that they seem less like human characteristics as much as something that some writers decided to push on characters to give them complicating qualities), and everyone is seriously gorgeous eye candy. Not that any of these things are bad in and of themselves, but The Chicago Code is intended as a kind of middlebrow pulp program, and occasionally it's well done pulp.

For instance, the latest episode actually gets fairly arresting (pun!) when a feud develops between two police, which erupts at the end in a fistfight. Maybe having tension between people who are ostensibly on the same side leads to shadier moral gradients that are compelling to watch. (I'd hasten to add that it helps if the side we're talking about is the good guys, because this episode also had two bad guys beefing to much less engrossing effect.) This dynamic also applied to Battlestar Galactica, where my favorite episodes often involved human-vs.-human tensions as opposed to the majority of the human-vs.-Cylon conflict.

The other recurring storylines, however, have relied on cliche and criminal stupidity -- emphasis on "criminal." The dirty pol, Alderman Ronin Gibbons, manages to draw out a scandal where the chief of staff of Chicago PD's Superintendent has to be replaced by a man of Gibbons' choosing. The replacement, who is to twice as dirty as the outgoing COS and completely in the Gibbons' pocket, has an easily discovered connection back to the alderman. Not exactly a serpentine gambit.

But what I really want to talk about is the eye candy, starting with Jennifer Beals, who at 47 still looks incredible. There's also a younger female police, but she's been completely useless so far. The guys are ridiculously hot, too, such as useless girl's partner, and young dude (who played Luke in the last couple seasons of FNL) paired with the veteran detective.

Actually, what I really want to talk about is how Jennifer Beals' Superintendent is written. She's the first female Superintendent in CPD history, and enormously young to boot, but we've constantly seen her rely on the advice of Jarek Wysocki, her former partner, not to mention a lowly detective. Why would a woman who's presumably resourceful and tenacious enough to climb to the top of a male-dominated institution lean on a guy who doesn't have half her rank? Maybe as an administrator, her strength isn't police work, but somehow I doubt The Chicago Code is making such a distinction.

No comments: