I have a confession to make. NBC sent screeners for the first three episodes of “Chicago Fire” about a month or so before the series premiered in October. I kept telling myself that I would watch them at some point because it’s my job to give shows a fair chance so I can write about them and tell people why they may or may not like them.
But I let them sit there because I had no interest in the show. Fire scares me, I wasn’t overly impressed with the cast and frankly, it sounded a lot like “Third Watch,” which lost me after a few seasons. The show premiered online and then in primetime and I forgot all about the screeners.
Now let’s fast-forward to Thanksgiving weekend. Most shows I watch regularly are on a brief hiatus so I decided to go to Hulu and check out “Chicago Fire.” I’d heard some good things about it and I noticed that ratings have been ticking upward so I figured, ‘why not? I’ve got nothing else to watch.’
The pilot was slow and to be honest, if I’d watched the screener when I received it, I probably would not have bothered with a second episode. But since I had some time, I cued up episode 2. It was better than the pilot so I watched episode 3. By the end of episode 3, I was like, “Oh my God, people, where has this show been all my life?!?!?”
Yes, it is that good and that was my longwinded way of explaining why we shouldn’t always judge a book, or in this case, a TV show, by its cover. Sure, you could watch the show just for the hot guys, but the show is actually incredibly good and well-written and once you watch episode 3, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible not to get hooked. My favorite thing about the show, what really captured my attention, is the fact that it’s not about fires or car accidents or saving people from heart attacks. The action is great and it’s fun to watch, but it’s not where the story is at.
The story is the characters; the men and women of the firehouse and what is happening in their lives. Sometimes the victims come into play or the cases go on for more than one episode; there was a long, compelling arc with Casey (Jesse Spencer) and a dirty cop that set out to destroy him and another ongoing arc with Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker) trying to help a kid, who may or may not be an arsonist. But the thing the cases have in common is that they’re not about the victims, they’re about the reactions of the main characters and that is what makes them so interesting and what sets “Chicago Fire” apart from all the other procedural shows out there.
I highly recommend taking the time and catch up on the first 10 episodes before the show returns on Jan. 2. But if you don’t have time to do that, here are the basics of what you need to know to add it to your Wednesday viewing schedule. The show is centered on a firehouse in Chicago. There are three main groups (for lack of a better word): the truck, which is the firefighters and they are led by Casey, the squad, as in rescue squad and they are led by Severide (Taylor Kinney) and the ambulance, which is Shay (Lauren German) and Dawson (Monica Raymund). Chief Boden oversees everyone and everything and he is the absolute best (I dare you to watch the show and not love him).
We get to know each of the characters on a personal level and it’s really telling to see that these men and women, who are literally heroes on a daily basis, have some really messed up lives. It humanizes them and it makes the viewers want to root for them. Every time Hermann (David Eigenberg) comes up with a new ‘get rich quick’ scheme, it’s hard not to shake your head and hope for the best. Or when Cruz (Joe Minoso) had to make a choice as to whether or not he should save the gang leader that had been tormenting his brother, it wasn’t hard to see why he had to think about it. Was what he did right? No, but it was understandable.
If the show has one flaw, it’s Severide and his painkiller addiction. For a long time, I was really irritated that no one seemed to notice that he was in excruciating pain every time he had to use his arm, which was a lot since he’s the big guy on the rescue squad. But then Casey mentioned that they all saw it, they just didn’t say anything and then I had even more love for the show. Anyway, it’s not the best storyline and we’re past the point where it has gotten stale, but the good news is that I think we’re reaching the light at the end of the tunnel and Severide might actually be facing the error of his ways soon.
Have I convinced you to give the show a try yet? What if I throw in the fact that Jesse Spencer and Taylor Kinney (especially Kinney) are shirtless a lot? There’s also a love triangle brewing between Casey, Dawson and candidate Peter Mills (Charlie Barnett) if you’re into that kind of thing and did I mention all the action scenes that are pretty badass, right? Those are definitely worth tuning in for. Seriously, give the show a chance. I really don’t think you’ll regret it.