Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday TV: Chicago Fire

Thursday TV is returning as a semi-regular Thursday feature for me to discuss television: the shows I'm watching, the shows I'm giving up on, as well as other trends.

If you had asked me at the beginning of the fall television season which network show would be my favorite, I likely would have guessed Nashville (coming soon to Thursday TV) or Elementary. Instead, two months into this season, the only new fall show I genuinely love is Chicago Fire, a show I didn't even intend to watch.

I'll be honest: it's not the best new show, but it is the new show I love the most. There's something classic about this drama. It isn't necessarily breaking new ground or doing anything unconventional, but it's doing the medical/rescue drama exceedingly well. Here's why:

1. A true ensemble cast
I'm a huge fan of ensemble casts, and there isn't a true star on this show. (I mean that with no disrespect, partiuclarly to those of you who know how much I adore David Eigenberg, Monica Raymond, and Eamonn Walker.) In a sense, they're all stars. It's incredibly refreshing to see an ensemble where there isn't someone clearly out-acted. There's a respectable amount of racial diversity, but more importantly, there's diversity in age, weight and beauty. Yes, there are quite a few gorgeous people fighting fires and saving lives, but I appreciate the cast and characters bearing some relation to reality. What really makes an ensemble cast work, particularly one this large in the early days of a show, is chemistry. I believe these people are co-workers and drinking buddies. Without yet knowing all of their backstories, even the minor characters have their place.

2. The Chicago setting
I love New York, but it is so refreshing to have two of my favorite shows on television set in Chicago (see also The Good Wife). Chicago is a fascinating city, and this Midwesterner loves to see our nation's third largest city showcased in popular culture. The gang culture, political corruption and temperatures provide the perfect background for many types of stories and fires too.

3. A mixture of one-week storylines and overarching storylines
The quickest way to kill even a strong show is to have the storylines end in each episode or go on far too long. So far, Chicago Fire has nailed it. There are always the emergencies of the week, which typically fall at inopportune times. The duality of this timing makes for excellent television. We've also had several multi-episode arcs already come to satisfying conclusion. Still, there are several lingering plot points I won't expect to time up anytime soon. The harmony of these three different lengths of storylines is crucial, and the writers are delivering so far.

4. Good acting
I'm the first to admit Chicago Fire isn't necessarily a great program, but great acting can elevate scripts that border on cheesy or unsurprising. Chicago Fire doesn't often leave me guessing, but it does leave me wanting to see characters, who seem like people, experience things and react to them. A constant on Chicago Fire are wide shots pulling together multiple storylines, emotions, and even humor, often without dialogue. It's a testament to these actors living in their characters.

Now tell me: Are you loving Chicago Fire as much as I am? What's your favorite new fall show this year?

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  1. I haven't seen this one. Are you going to talk about Nashville on a different post? I was excited about it but just couldn't get into it. And I can't stand Hayden Panettiere's character!

    1. Jenny, I think I'll talk about Nashville this week. I was super excited about it, but I think I'm breaking up with it. It's just not working for me!


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