October 13, 2012

TV: Chicago Fire (NBC, Wed 10)

Every year, during the fall TV premiere season, I watch at least the first episode of everything the networks have to offer. But I allow myself one "life is too damn short" moment each year, one show that I can give up on before even that first episode is through. This year, that honor goes to NBC's Chicago Fire, the latest from producer Dick Wolf.

There's a reason that cops, doctors, and lawyers are the holy trinity of TV occupations. They have the opportunity for interesting new stories every week, and those stories involve other people -- suspects and victims, patients and loved ones, plaintiffs and defendants.

But firemen fight fire. It's an impersonal force, and that's not all that much variety between fires. Chicago Fire tries to get a bit of personal drama into the stories by placing the show in a firehouse that has not only a truck unit, but also a rescue squad of paramedics, two squads who don't get along.

Those squads are headed by Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer, doing an atrocious American accent) and Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney), a pair of macho assholes who are distinguished primarily by the fact that Spencer's blond and Kinney's brunette. Similarly, the two essentially interchangeable paramedics are played by blond Lauren German and African-American Monica Raymund.

Eamonn Walker has a strong authority as the station commander, but his role is (like that of all black police/fire chiefs) limited to scolding his underlings. There's a cute young newbie (Charlie Barnett) whose function is to listen to all of the "here's how we do things" exposition.

But ultimately, it's a fire fighting procedural. The characters aren't interesting, and it's hard to see how they're going to tell stories that amount to anything more than "fire bad."

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