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We've all seen shows that started with a very exciting pilot suffer a
slow boring death. A good show needs more than a good concept at the
start, it needs good storytelling, good acting, likable characters and
it needs to find a good pace.
The pilot of Chicago Fire was very weak. The story lines felt too familiar (old friends drifted apart through tragedy, secret painkiller addiction, unrequited love etc) and didn't blend together. And, as you can see on this IMDb page, in the next few days a lot reviewers burnt Chicago Fire to the ground.
For some reason I kept on watching. The second episode was a bit better, but by the third episode the show really found it's stride. I've just finished watching the fifth episode and came the conclusion that 1. Chicago Fire somehow ended up to be my favorite new show of the year and 2. All the negative IMDb-reviews are now really unfair.
Which is why I suddenly felt compelled to write a review of my own. I never do this, so bear with me.
Chicago Fire is not a procedural 'fire of the week' show. It actually does the ensemble drama really well. There is nice balance between the characters and I especially like how these characters connect with each other and how the story lines are slowly developed. In a way, it reminds me of The Good Wife, but with more action scenes (which is a great compliment in my world)
The friendship between roommates Leslie Shay (Lauren German) and Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) is great. Severide plays the tough on the outside, soft on the inside guy, who walks away from his medical problems by secretly taking lots of illegal painkillers. Not very original or interesting, but I've got to admit that my cynic self is really warming up to Kelley. Partly because Kinney plays the part very well, and partly because of his genuine scenes and aforementioned friendship with Shay.
Shay is gay, but that's not an issue on the show, just a part of who she is. As it should be, I applaud the CF writers for the way they portray her. Her scenes with fellow paramedic Dawson (Monica Raymund)are among my favorites.
Dawson also has some cute scenes with new kid on the block Peter Mills (Charlie Barnett), but is too much in love with lieutenant Matthew Casey to notice their chemistry. Sadly for her, Casey is already engaged to another medical professional. This may sound a little soapy or gooey, but actually, Dawson kicks ass. Literally. Which gets her in to trouble sometimes.
Lt. Casey is arguably the real star of the show. He is played by Jesse Spencer, whom I liked in his House MD days, but who really impressed me on Chicago Fire. He plays the classic good guy, but not in a boring way. His intense storyline involving a dirty cop truly propelled the show to greater heights.
I'm not gonna name every character or storyline, but they're all getting better very fast. (Quick shout out to Eamonn Walker who plays the awesome Chief Boden.) The show may be a bit unrealistic, but that's not what I look for in a good drama. I'm a big fan of Breaking Bad and Dexter, both are very entertaining, and excellently written ánd acted shows, but both are also very unrealistic. Chicago Fire may not yet be on their level of awesomeness, but it is getting there. My point just is, I am really glad I gave this show another chance and I hope that you will too.
If you are planning on watching this show and pointing out the
inaccuracies, don't watch it. This is a FICTIONAL procedural drama, not
a documentary on Fire Fighters and Paramedics. Of course there will be
inaccuracies, and things will be rushed to get a story told in 45
minutes. Just like there are inaccuracies in shows such as Grey's
Anatomy, Law & Order, CSI...it is all unrealistic...yet that does not
stop people from enjoying the show.
On the other side, there are some interesting characters that I would like to see more of their back-stories. This show is not perfect, but it is enjoyable and it has my attention for the hour. As with everything, there is room for improvement, and I can only see it getting better with time, if given the chance.
Wasn't perfect but no pilot is. Really enjoyed the show, we found it
exciting, fast paced, without too much exposition or clumsy explaining.
Liked what felt like some fairly realistic situations, hope they give
Loved seeing Eamonn Walker. he was a favorite actor I hope they give him a good chance to shine.
My only concern with an ensemble cast is not getting enough character development and interest to keep the show going at the beginning before it gets to sink in and develop a stable audience.
And really enjoyed seeing something set in somewhere other than New York or Los Angeles!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am a firefighter-EMT on the west coast, and wasn't sure about this
show going in.
My first thoughts were, "It can't be any worse than 'Backdraft'," and, "Please God, let this be better than 'Rescue Me'."
It's nice to see a show that doesn't make us all out to be lying, cheating, philandering d-bags the way "Rescue Me" did (although that show could always make me feel better about my own life...). This is not to say its characters are paragons of perfect virtue, but it does at least show them as worthy of the public's trust.
The station environment is semi-realistic. Of course, messing with the Probie/Candidate/New Hire/FNG/Boot is a time-honored tradition and rite of passage that all of us endured when we were new. However, the co-ed locker room is a stretch. Yes, we often share the same barracks with females, but we don't strip down for the shower in full view of the opposite sex. Just doesn't happen. Also, "incidents" like LT Severide sneaking into the gear room for a quickie with ANYBODY would result in serious disciplinary action.
The cast seems mostly believable to me. Eamonn Walker feels exactly like many chiefs I have known. Both LTs seem a bit young to be company officers, especially in a department like Chicago, but stranger things have been known to happen. The crews feel real enough.
The subplot that has LT Severide getting morphine from one of the medics is ridiculous. Every medication on an ALS ambulance is tracked, and the potentially addictive ones like morphine are watched like a hawk. They WOULD get caught, they WOULD get fired, and they WOULD do prison time for that.
As for the incidents, I am disappointed. The "medics" can't even perform basic C-spine immobilization for starters. I almost threw up in my mouth during the pilot episode when Dawson tells the little girl in the back of the wrecked car with head trauma and obvious mechanism of injury to turn her head. Any EMT student can tell you that YOU NEVER EVER DO THAT!!! I understand it's Hollywood, but come on, it's not that hard to show it done the right way. I'm a guy who has crawled inside a lot of mangled cars to pull people out; I know whereof I speak.
Many of the operations performed on incidents in the show are real, or at least close to it. Some people have criticized the "slide down the charged line" stunt. That is actually taught as a way to bail out from an upper-story window if you get trapped upstairs. I'm not so sure about suspending it from the truck's aerial the way they did it in the show. I'm an engine firefighter, and my truckie friends haven't gotten back to me on that one yet. However, I could think of at least two or three better ways to access that collapsed floor section. Some have also criticized the scene with LT Severide visiting the victim's widow to bring her his last words. I have had to comfort more new widows, orphans, and grieving parents than I care to think about, and it has kept me up at night. I don't carry my Iphone around in my turnout coat pocket, but this one is still perfectly plausible.
The third episode featured an overturned SUV teetering on a guardrail above a tunnel entrance with occupants trapped inside. I have experience with this type of incident (mine was on a steep hillside with the vehicle balanced on a rock). The stabilization methods they used on it would not have worked. Stabilization struts support an overturned vehicle, they don't hold it down, and placing cribbing on the guardrail would have done nothing useful that I can see. Then again, at least they sort of C-spined the kid from that wreck.
I'm unimpressed with the fire scenes so far. I've been inside lots of burning buildings. Most of the time, you're snake-crawling on the floor and you can't see your hand in front of your face. Multi-story apartment buildings with open stairwells can be a little different if the fire is on an upper floor, but not if you have fire established in the basement. If you take off your BA mask, you're probably going to die very quickly. If you stand straight up for more than a few seconds, your gear is going to fail and you're going to be in serious trouble. And while they did do most of the Pittsburg drill correctly to pull a downed firefighter out of the basement after the floor collapsed, they kinda forgot to pull out the other two guys who were down there, which is to say they only did part of the real operation. Also, they are way too clean. When you come out of a structure fire, you gear is filthy and so are you. You clean it when you get back to the station. So why do these guys come out looking like their turnouts just got dry-cleaned? I will give them this, they seem to be getting a little better in realism with each episode. I'm going to try to give this show a chance, as I think it's got some potential, though it certainly doesn't live up to "Emergency!", which to this day remains probably the most realistic Hollywood production about firefighters ever made.
If there's one thing I really hate about this show, it's the fact that after every episode I have to calm my fiancée down and convince her all over again that I'm not really cheating death twelve times a day. They do try to overdramatize the job. I get that, as I can attest to the fact that it's a lot more boring in real life (isn't everything?) and nobody would be that interested in a real day on the job, so I'm trying not to hold that against them.
My wife and I are hooked on this show. We have watched all of the episodes from the beginning and really look forward to seeing it every Wednesday night. The different story lines and plots are enough to keep you interested without being too dramatic. I have read many reviews that say it isn't realistic. It is Hollywood, folks - it can only be as close to real as TV allows. Get over it! I think that some of the rescue scenes are incredible. Hopefully some of the plots that were developing (like the dirty cop plot) are continued as they were great. Give this show a chance - it is like the 70's show Emergency! for 2012. If you like Law & Order then you will like this show too. It has the Dick Wolf touch that makes it a great show. We love it!
There's tons of cop, lawyer and doctor shows on TV and firefighters are
way too under represented in TV series. Actually Chicago Fire and
Rescue Me are the only full blown fireman shows that I even know it.
Rescue Me was a good show but had too much Gavin family drama in
sometimes. And while Chicago Fire may show a little bit of there off
duty lives, most of the time the show deals with their on duty lives.
The best part of CF is deals both the Truck and Squad companies in addition to an EMS team. The actors on the show really play the part well too, you could tell they went on plenty of ride alongs and investigated the roles to prepare themselves for the roles appropriately.
OK. I read some of the lesser reviews but I totally disagree. I love
this show and after 1 episode I was hooked! And now, seven episodes in,
I'm addicted! I know that there are flaws (most medical, trauma,
firefighter, cops shows have them), but I love the characters and the
way the cast is really coming together. I cannot wait to see what
happens next! The plot could be written in so many different ways and I
can see the possibilities for this show to run for a long time.
The character development is really good. I love Severide and Casey and am so hoping that NBC is reading these reviews and they renew the show for another year (unlike Trauma). The ratings may not be what they want at this very moment, but please give us of those that love it a chance to continue to do so! It takes a while for word of mouth to spread about a great show, but I'm doing my part to make sure that others tune in. Please keep in mind folks that this is not a reality show. It is for drama entertainment purposes and its wonderful.
Good story lines without a lot of sugar-coating or fantasy. We meet
characters with depth, from the token firehouse playboy to a lesbian
portrayed primarily as a human (that's a TV first). Some good
action/effects scenes. Eye candy for everyone. What more can you ask? I
truly enjoyed this one. Watched the whole series over a 2 week period
while I was sick. I'm waiting with anticipation for it to return.
Love David Eigenberg as Herrmann--so glad to see him back on TV in a series. Doesn't everyone know a guy like Herrmann? Joe Minoso does a great job as Cruz. All in all they're a very interesting and varied group of characters. I like them all.
I love this show!
I had been recording this show but didn't get around to watching it, I never really felt like it as it can take time to get into a new series. However, one day when I was flicking through the channels trying to find something to watch, I came across Chicago Fire episode 10, already 15minutes in and as I watched I became hooked! I couldn't even make myself stop watching it and start from the beginning of the series! I watched episode 10 and then episode 11 the following night and then I went back and watched the series from the beginning.
I love the story lines, and the characters are brilliant. Nobody cares if the show isn't 100% realistic, it's not a documentary! If you want realistic shows then don't watch Drama TV! It's classified 'Drama' for a reason. I can't wait for the next episode and I really hope this show keeps going for more series to come.
I started watching this show when this was renewed for season 2 because
of it's poor season one rating. Now i know why it was not cancel after
season one poor performance. It is because every script of every
episodes are well crafted and has brilliant characters(not to mention
eye candies for the ladies and gays) and has depth in their history.
Despite it's lack of excitement and thrills in the storyline it is
humbling for a show to give it's viewer a fresh and realistic drama.
It doesn't focus all of it's story on firefighting actions and the drama develops in accordance to their character's actions which avoid the feel of rushing in the storytelling which usually every network shows has. I admire the writers courage to develop the underlying plot and suspense in a pace which the story deserves rather than focusing too much on pleasing the viewers. This also gives the audience to connect to their fav characters. This is one of those shows in which if it continues for a while (may be longer than 6 seasons) you will be left very fulfilling and satisfying yet sad and feel hollow when the show ends.
Not a cup of tea for everyone but to those who love contemporary drama and has lots of patience, it will be a wondrous treat which more than likely you will ever forget in the future.
Like Greys Anatomy i am sure i will be watching this show over and over again.
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