In a nutshell: A cliche, a classic, a travesty

Popcorn rating: 4/5

In the great tradition of police dramas, The Chicago Code starts with a car chase. Cameras pan across the iconic city as maverick detective Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke) pursues the criminal Louis. The chase culminates with a gun being pointed in Wysocki’s face but ends peacefully when the detective offers Louis the chance to see his pregnant girlfriend one last time before his arrest. It is the kind of scene that, although cliched, instantly grips you.

Wysocki, a Polish American, is temperamental but brilliant at his job and the sort of ‘super cop’ that every police drama needs. Then again, what else would you expect from creator Shawn Ryan?

Ryan was the man behind The Shield, another cop show but from the perspective of a corrupt strike team in Los Angeles. The Shield also blessed us with one of TV’s most infamous anti heroes in Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis).

With The Chicago Code, Ryan gives the cop formula a lick of paint to make it more slick and high octane for the Fox network. It also takes a cue from The Wire by offering a glance at a cross section of the city and all those affected by crime and police work, from street level to the polished offices at city hall.

The core plot takes you to the top of the police and political food chains. Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals), the city’s first female police superintendent, is determined to build a case against the charming but crooked Alderman Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo).

Viewers are also given an insight into the underworld with police officer Chris Collier (Billy Lush)working diligently undercover to substantiate the Irish mob’s connections to Gibbons.

Each character’s backstory is revealed through brief flashbacks and Scorsese-style voiceovers which gives the show a cinematic quality.

There’s many more characters that deserve a mention like Caleb Evers, Wysocki’s partner who is hungry to learn and the only detective seemingly able to tolerate Wysocki’s mood and whims. But it’s impossible to do the full cast justice as this is such a well crafted programme.

The fact that Fox cancelled The Chicago Code after just one series is still causing shockwaves among the angry fanbase. A Facebook group is out to save it but really there is little hope. Of course, Fox has to consider its bottom line but the corporation has proved time and again it does not look at the bigger picture.

Firefly was cancelled by Fox after just 14 episodes but creator Joss Whedon convinced Universal Pictures to bankroll the film sequel Serenity. Neither The Chicago Code nor Firefly received the instant mega ratings that Fox is looking for. But maybe their execs should consider the quality of production values and plot which offer the potential for growth with extended exposure.

Fox obviously don’t see the value of an intensely loyal fanbase either. It is sad that the joy of a great show has to end in the crushing disappointment of its premature demise but there we have it.

This writer will have to take some refuge in the fact that Ryan’s mate Kurt Sutter, the executive producer and one of the key writer’s of The Shield is doing a little better. Sutter’s excellent Sons of Anarchy, about a motorbike gang in California, has been cleared for a fourth series. Looks like TV’s criminals are winning in the cops and robbers stakes.

Reviewer: DavidMorgan

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