We’ve all had those sick days where we’re laying on the couch, coughing up a storm and looking for something to distract us on the tube.
During the day, of course, the same thing seems to be on every channel: Law and Order. We scoff at the “dun dun” sounds and the seriousness of the show as we sit back to doze off to it. Except, before we know it, we’ve gone and watched far too many episodes and are completely caught up in what will happen next.
Such is the talent of franchise creator Dick Wolf.
With such a successful formula in the procedural police drama, it’s a surprise Wolf wanted to expand his brand with Chicago Fire. On the surface it sounds like just another Dick Wolf drama. The show is about Chicago firefighters. That’s really it. However, this show manages to mature beyond the simple procedural concept and become deeper and more experimental by delving into the personal lives’ of its characters far beyond any Law and Order drama.
The show’s first season, available now on DVD, is complete with lesbians, podcasts and mothers in prison. It’s quite surprising to find out Wolf had so much influence on the show. We follow the Chicago firehouse as broken up into three parts: Truck Squad (the firefighters), Rescue Squad (they do the really dangerous stuff) and the paramedics. We follow these characters in and out of fires as they juggle personal relationships and struggles with work.
Being a network drama (and 24 episodes long), Chicago Fire can drop itself into melodramatic, soap opera like territory. However, overall, its a very sophisticated drama with some very reality stricken drama. It’s never preachy, but it’s effective.
Don’t expect the show to toe the same line that shows like Rescue Me did, however. Wolf does play it a little more safe than that. In fact, Chicago Fire doesn’t entirely drop the procedural nature of a standard Wolf drama. We still get plenty of fires and see our heroes fighting fire after fire, but you know what? That all works. It looks fantastic and is shot and written effectively in almost every episode. It’s a really suspenseful show. You may get as addicted to this as you did old episodes of Law and Order.
It’s not the best thing on television and is a network drama through and through, but Chicago Fire is effective and the perfect show to help you unwind from a long day at work or the perfect series to jump into when you’re on that bed coughing and flipping through channels.
The DVD set for the first season is unfortunately pretty bare. There’s only a couple of short features for your consideration.
The second season premieres on September 24th.
Note: There is a pretty ridiculous cameo for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the pilot episode. He doesn’t talk. He just shows up, walks to heroic music and shakes someone’s hand.