THE CITY THAT WORKS
It will come as no surprise to those that know me that The Chicago Code instantly became one of my favorite shows. No small part of that is due to the fact that it shoots in Chicago, and that makes a big difference in the character of the show. It's something that The Good Wife tries and fails to do; make the city of Chicago a character. You can't do it though, with unspecific visuals and throwaway dialogue.
Of course, one does not make a city cop show in the city in question without the assistance of the city, which in most cases means not presenting the police in a bad light. No city police force is perfect and Chicago is certainly on that list, what with the city's rampant corruption, torture scandals, etc. And after The Blue Brothers made CPD look like the Keystone Kops idiot brother, there was a long period of either not helping out with productions in the city or, at least, not helping out productions that cast any kind of shadow on Chicago's Finest. I'm relieved to see that is no longer the case, as not just dirty cops, but just bad cops (as in cops who do not do their job well) have become a part of the narrative.
An honest view of the city and the police force was vital to the success of two of the best cop shows ever to grace cathode ray tubes and flatscreens anywhere, Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, both of which made their city (Baltimore) characters in the show. To me, The Chicago Code is a cousin to those two.
I was fortunate enough to score a meeting last staffing season with a view toward staffing on Chicago Code, which at that point was called Ride Along (obviously, I didn't get it). In it, the exec asked me how I saw, not just the pilot, but the series. It was an easy answer. It's a love letter to Chicago, it's a love letter written by a pick-up artist. You can compliment her, but you not too much, you've got leave a little vulnerability to take advantage of, so there's always a backhanded compliment or an off-hand reminder of on of her less-favorable qualities. To me though, it reminds me of what makes a really good perfume. If it's all just beautiful smelling elements, the end product is ultimately forgettable. What gives it character is one stinky element, buried in the mix. You don't smell that per se, but it's in the mix and it makes it unique.
It's a love letter I would kill to be able to write. And if the show gets picked up, I'll probably spec it. I'll use the story I broke sitting in the Fox offices, waiting for my meeting, staring at a bunch of Emmys.
And if you tuned in to this Shawn Ryan show expecting The Shield, it's not. This isn't cable, this isn't Los Angeles and this isn't a fucking dog trick. But, I expect that if this show gets a second season and beyond, you will see some fucked-up shit...despite the broadcast network venue.