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Dick Wolf was not looking to rewrite the playbook when he shepherded Chicago Fire to the small screen. That’s not what he does. He pounds stories into workmanlike form then wants them to run a strong 45?minutes and come back next week to do it again.
With any luck, Chicago Fire will run forever, and Denver Fire and Miami Fire will follow, and the money will flow.
Which is to say that if you’re looking for something groundbreaking in the procedural department, you’re not going to find it in this drama about guys on the Firehouse 51 truck and their rivalry with the Rescue Squad that shares the station. There is rampant testosterone, and it won’t dissipate until two female paramedics arrive to hotten things up. Anybody unclear on the concept? Good. Now, whether anything is wrong with that approach is another debate. But there’s nothing wrong with procedurals you can count on to entertain you for an hour a week. Wolf knows how to do those. And, besides, television was missing a series about firefighters.
From creators and writers Derek Haas and Michael Brandt (3:10 to Yuma), Chicago Fire benefits greatly from being shot on location. Half the thrill of a series like this is the realism of the neighborhoods when the truck rolls up. Having a sense of place always has been important to Wolf, even if that place mostly has been New York.
When the series opens, the squad has lost a man. And that has set off bickering between team leaders Lt. Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer), in charge of the truck, and Lt. Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney), in charge of the Rescue Squad. Each holds the other accountable for the loss. Eamonn Walker as Battalion Chief Wallace Boden lends a large measure of wisdom and veteran leadership to the squad, though Boden’s thinking about cutting back his stress by transferring to a quiet area and a desk job. David Eigenberg plays Christopher Herrmann, a longtime firefighter whose house has been foreclosed on and who’s wondering what the point is to all this struggle. Eigenberg has that everyman quality that helps set off the hunk battle between Kinney and Spencer. Monica Raymund and Lauren German are the paramedics, while Charlie Barnett plays Peter Mills, the bright-eyed new guy who comes from a family of firefighters (see: familiarity).
No need to get all Rescue Me on us. No ghosts, no boundary pushing, no flights of fancy.
Rote but entertaining, Chicago Fire can’t be ruled out as perhaps one of NBC’s best chances for a hit.
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