Chicago Fire Review: "Pilot/Mon Amour" (Episodes 1.01/1.02)
Over its first two episodes in existence, Chicago Fire has proven one thing: it’s run-of-the-mill and proud of it. The pilot presents a straightforward introduction to a group of firefighters and paramedics in a Chicago firehouse filled with inner turmoil and dark secrets. It’s what you’ve come to expect from ensemble shows that take place in an intense workplace, a la Grey’s Anatomy.
Like many shows like that, this one will obviously rely on viewers falling in love with and feeling for the characters. While Chicago Fire might be a little too basic for today’s viewers who like highly original dramas, the cast does as good of a job as they can and have an energy that has the potential to draw in a small, loyal fan base.
House’s Jesse Spencer tries his hand at an American accent playing Lieutenant Matthew Casey, a straight-laced firefighter who recently lost a friend and colleague in a fire. Former best friend Lieutenant Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) blames Casey for the loss and to make matters worse, Casey’s relationship with his doctor girlfriend, Hallie (Teri Reeves), is going through a rough patch with no light at the end of the tunnel. Kelly has his own demons, of course, and is secretly taking steroids.
Then there’s Peter Mills (Charlie Barnett), a rookie candidate eager to fit in. He’s the wide-eyed kid who just wants to save lives. There’s always a character who serves as a gap between the profession we’re seeing on screen and the viewers who might not understand what it takes to be a firefighter. He’s an interesting character with potential.
On top of this barrage of plots doled out in the pilot episode, there was one last one that was supposed to give the episode substance, but ended up making the only two main female leads look incompetent. Great job, writers. Paramedics Gabby Dawson and Leslie Shay (Monica Raymund and Lauren German, respectively) round out the main cast giving the station some female presence.
There was a lot to chew from the initial episode, but it worked well. There aren’t a lot of high expectations floating around this series, but it takes a step in the right direction with “Mon Amour.” The second episode expands on the initial plots of the pilot and explores the characters a little more in depth.
Kelly is still struggling with ‘roids and is guilt-ridden over the death of Darden. The fallen fighter’s wife blames Kelly for Darden ever becoming a firefighter in the first place. The problem with the first episode was Darden was killed off within the first minutes. Keeping his family around will give the viewers a chance to connect with a dead character.
The show brings on a young, pretty administrative character solely to play the young, pretty character that the guys drool over. I’m not a feminist per say, but again: come on, writers! Can we have a strong female in a show about macho guys?
There are multiple cases the crew takes on, including a collapsed building and a drunken incident the paramedics have to respond to. It ends with a tragic event that looks like it’s going to have an effect on Casey more than anybody. The event causes the lieutenant to reevaluate a lot in his life, especially his relationship with Hallie.
This show is a lot like the firefighters it portrays: it just wants to do its job well with no frills. Chicago Fire provides the expected thrills and drama, but doesn’t provide any more than that. However, it’s worth watching if you like good old-fashioned dramas with an enthralling cast.