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The Chicago Code


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A compelling new Fox cop show from Shawn Ryan (creator of the dearly departed “The Shield” and “Terriers”), "Chicago Code" stars Jennifer Beals ("The L Word") and Jason Clarke ("Brotherhood") as former police partners whose careers have since moved in different directions – she’s the first female superintendent of police in the city’s history; he’s a maverick detective she taps to covertly investigate city corruption. Delroy Lindo (“Ransom,” “Kidnapped”) plays their adversary, a wily local politician who controls the police department’s funding.


Also aboard the project is writer-director-producer Tim Minear, who worked with Ryan on both “Angel” and “Terriers.” As with “Terriers,” I was a bit meh about the new pilot, in which Clarke’s character is provided leaden quips about human speed bumps and introduced into an absurd misfire of a “cute” car chase. But I came to embrace “Chicago Code” as it continued to dig deep into its central characters during episode two, scripted by Patrick Massett and John Zinman (“Friday Night Lights,” “Caprica”). By its third episode, written by Davey Holmes (“In Treatment,” “Pushing Daisies”) and centered on a smug Irish mobster, I found myself up a 4 a.m. and ready to tell my DVR to hunt down and capture all future installments.


Beals, Clarke and Lindo contribute hugely charismatic performances. Australian Clarke, particularly, is revelatory in a role far more heroic than the semi-principled self-serving Rhode Island politician he played in his Showtime series. But there’s also a gripping scene shared by Beals and Lindo in the third episode – one in which each expertly strives to downplay vital agenda – that will make sharp-eyed viewers sit up straight. More scenes like that could have me covering this series on a weekly basis.


The New York Times says:


… both the story’s smart pacing and the restrained unctuousness that Mr. Lindo brings to the role allow for depth and surprise not immediately apparent. … “The Chicago Code” wastes no time soliciting your misguided allegiance.


The Los Angeles Times says:


… a cop drama rather than a cop show, exploring the nature of political and personal corruption instead of presenting a nifty case to solve each week. … Lindo makes a meal of the character, with extra helpings and sauce on the side. He is just so bad but so believably bad, self-righteous and self-involved, convinced that he is doing what's best for the city, and if it means a little more for him then so be it. … a show that breaks the network code, and that alone is worth watching.


The Washington Post says:


… The show is point-blank, but somewhat brilliantly so. … Too many cop shows are fat and predictably lazy from the get-go, relying too much on smartphones and lab results; "The Chicago Code" feels like an old-fashioned and vigorous foot pursuit.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:


… Smart and well-acted with clearly defined heroes and villains -- all painted in varying shades of gray -- this Chicago-set show feels familiar and new at the same time. … has enough creative flourishes to make it palatable even for viewers drawn to grittier basic cable series.


The San Francisco Chronicle says:


… does have most of the elements needed to make the show at least a moderate success. With better writing and a bit more imagination, it could do even better. … feels a bit sanitized for a cop show, especially next to legends "The Shield" and "NYPD Blue," but also next to the current gold standard, Ann Biderman's superb "Southland" on TNT. The dainty language is one thing, but the whole look of the show and the characters is a bit too scrubbed for complete credibility. …


HitFix says:


… excellent new cop drama …

TV Squad says:


… It's focused, determined and ambitious -- and sometimes it tries to do too much. Still, the handsome 'Code' succeeds far more often than it strikes out. … in the three episodes Fox sent for review, any time Beals, Clarke or Lindo occupied the screen, 'Code' crackled with intriguing potential. Other aspects of the show are more problematic, but 'Code's' growing pains aren't difficult to live with, given that they stem from an excess of ambition, not a lack of it. … Wysocki's neice, Vonda (Devin Kelley), and her cop partner, Isaac (Todd Williams), fill out some of the police stories, but those characters seem like refugees from a more predictable cop show and don't stand out in any meaningful way. Another thread about an undercover officer infiltrating the Irish mob isn't really interesting in and of itself; it's only compelling when Wysocki or Colvin parachute into that story. …


The Boston Herald says:


… might remind some viewers of his legendary (in this neighborhood) cop show “The Shield” and HBO’s “The Wire” — but not the good parts. … Every character has a voice-over, info dumps for back story that are either irksome or unnecessary. One character’s musings are permanently stilled tonight. Expect most of these voices to come to an abrupt stop. Code: dumb.


The Boston Globe says:


… an ambitious, energetic portrait of law enforcement steeped in the grunge and idiom of an American city. … Can “The Chicago Code’’ evolve into a great network cop drama? To be great, it needs to leave its particular stamp on the genre — like “NYPD Blue,’’ for instance, which wedded hand-held visual poetry to morally shaky good guys. It’s hard to say if this show will rise to the occasion, but I’ll definitely be watching to find out.


USA Today says:


… it's clear Shawn Ryan knows a thing or two about dramatizing dysfunctional big-city police forces. He proved it with his groundbreaking FX series The Shield, and he proves it again with this latest winning take on crime and corruption … twists agreeably without losing sight of its moral ambiguities …


The Hollywood Reporter says:


… 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.


Variety says:


… tackles the town's rough-hewn reputation for corruption with mixed but mostly entertaining results. … There's certainly promise here -- especially in Clarke's surly cop -- but the show is short on the kind of pizzazz necessary to ensure "House," like Wysocki, needn't start scouting around for yet another new partner.

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