TV Review: 'The Chicago Code' is Gripping But Not a Game-Changer

Peter Sorel/FOX
Shield creator Shawn Ryan's latest features two main characters you can't take your eyes off of.

'Shield' creator Shawn Ryan's latest features two main characters you can't take your eyes off of.

The man who created The Shield for FX — Shawn Ryan — comes back with a broadcast network cop drama, though it’s one that doesn’t set out to redefine the field. Ryan has said he didn’t want to dip into that harrowing ride that was The Shield but to tell a different kind of story within a familiar framework. And the fact is, cops make for good stories, and Chicago makes a great backdrop.

It starts with Delroy Lindo as corrupt alderman Ronin Gibbons, who has run his ward for two decades and is easily more powerful and dangerous than the mayor above him. (He is note-perfect and riveting from the moment we meet him.) Trying to bring him down is Detective Jarek Wysocki (another wonderful turn by Jason Clarke), a revered cop whose former partner, the ambitious Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals), is now the city’s first female superintendent. She got the job largely because of Gibbons’ influence — he thought she’d be content with the title — but now she’s got a zeal for reform that alienates a lot of people around her. That’s why she gets Wysocki and Caleb Evers (Matt Lauria) to work an unofficial team to bring down Gibbons.

Getting used to Beals as the emotionally distant ball-buster takes time. She doesn’t immediately seem to have the gravitas, but soon enough her Type A drive begins to demand respect.

What works best about the series is that Lindo and Clarke are forces of nature; you can’t take your eyes off their characters. Code is not a game-changer in a genre that likely won’t be changed again for some time, but judging by the first three episodes it’s already gripping television and Fox has found a competitive new drama.


Airdate: 9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7  (Fox)
Cast: Delroy Lindo, Jason Clarke, Jennifer Beals, Matt Lauria
Producers: Shawn Ryan, Davey Holmes, Virgil Williams, Tim Minear
Creator: Shawn Ryan