Review: 'Chicago Fire' Has Played its Hand


After a pilot that was chock-full of exposition and potential plot-points, the follow-up 2nd episode of NBC's 'Chicago Fire' proved that there isn't a very strong engine beneath the gorgeous frame of this vehicle. While the cast remains competant and the action is present, the second episode of 'Chicago Fire' failed to introduce any new elements and simply reiterated the character points we saw in the pilot--as such, after a mere two episodes, 'Chicago Fire' has already begun spinning its wheels.


Chicago Fire title card


I promise, no more vehicular metaphors.

It is apparent while watching the series that the creators were hoping to recreate the casual camaraderie amongst the fire house that we saw through several excellent seasons of 'Rescue Me.' You could blame the network show being shackled to a PG rating, but the banter between fire fighters on 'Chicago Fire' is lacking the same realism that kept our attention collectively rapt to the fire fighters on Dennis Leary's show. While the actors are doing their best, an hour-long running gag about the Leslieappearance of a goat on the Fire House's crest got old about the second time it was brought up (not to mention the fifth).


Happily, the plot of episode two is more manageable than the first, without the need to burden the viewer with introduction after introduction. The major intra-ensemble elements are touched on, if not moved forward: Gabriela's (Monica Raymund) feelings for Matthew (Jesse Spencer) are teased once again but the pair have little interaction. Peter Mills (Charlie Barnett) continues to be the butt of House jokes as the rookie recruit. Most frustratingly, Drug-addict Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) requests nondescript narcotics from paramedic Leslie (Lauren German), which Leslie inexplicably supplies. There is no scene detailing why Kelly requires these narcotics (does he experience physical pain? From what trauma? His chisled physique appears flawless, after all), nor are we told why Leslie would risk her career to illegally enable his addiction.


The entirety of the second episode of 'Chicago Fire' centers around the character of Kelly Severide and yet somehow there is absolutely no change nor development of his character by the close of the hour. Severide never speaks of his thoughts or emotions on anything to do with the plot and, as such, the viewers are left wondering why he requires illegal drugs, guessing what he feels about the failed rescue attempt that gripped the show earlier, and essentially trying to read his mind. The parallels between the drug-addiction of Taylor Kinney's 'Kelly' and the alcoholism of Dennis Leary's famous Kelly Severide'Tommy' are obvious, yet there is a fatal flaw in 'Chicago Fire's recreation: Kinney does not have any of the charisma of Dennis Leary.

Kinney's Kelly Severide is an emotionless mannequin, face unchanging regardless of the events around him. At the triumphant return of their house mate Herrmann (played by the lovable David Eigenberg), Severide's expression is the same as when he is consoling a collapse-victim on his death-bed. Just as we have no clue why he has turned to drugs, we are not told why the single bachelor Kelly spurns the advances of an attractive co-worker--there appears to be a reason below the surface, but once again, below the surface is right where it stays. Surely these elements of Severide's character will be revealed in later episodes, but in the interim we cannot grasp the character, making it difficult to root for him. We cannot read into Kinney's portrayal of Severide and, as such, none of the emotional impact of Severide's scenes manage to hit the mark.


As I said in my review of the first episode, the tools for a hit show have been collected here by NBC brass, they simply aren't being used to their full potential. Judging from the 22% ratings drop-off from the first episode to the second, there are members of the audience who agree with me. With stiff timeslot competition being delivered by 'American Horror Story: Asylum,' 'Chicago Fire' is going to have to pick up the pace if it wants to last beyond six episodes.

The most successful action-dramas on television (including mammoth hits like 'The Walking Dead') manage to blend their plot elements with character motivations; aside from Gabriela's unspoken feelings for Matthew, there are no character motivations or desires present in 'Chicago Fire.' Aside from a sense of duty, all wants have been drained away.





Y'know what 'Chicago Fire' is great for, though? Beefcake.


You can catch 'Chicago Fire' on Wednesdays at 10:00pm EST on NBC. But you may not want to.






Message Posted On Apr 29th, 2014, 8:23 pm
This show rocks!!!!

Message Posted On Jan 6th, 2013, 5:43 pm
Maybe Severide is looking for a three-way with Casey and a hottie. I thought he was addicted to Toradol or Tremadol for pain. Neither is a narcotic nor addictive. But you do need a rx from a doctor for them. They are great for pain but bad for the stomach. I love the show and it does have beefcake.
50-year Firefighter

Message Posted On Oct 21st, 2012, 2:01 pm
I knew from the previews that this show was going to be bad, but I didn't realize how bad. It is an insult not only to the Chicago firefighters, but to firefighters everywhere. Clearly the show is in need of a competent technical who knows something about proper firefighting procedures. The good news is that nothing can be considered a total failure> This show this show is a good example of a bad show.

Level 4 (22%)
Points: 263.4
Since: 22/Aug/12
Message Posted On Oct 19th, 2012, 7:26 pm

.... because gay people would only befriend other gay people? I don't follow your logic, anonymous.


Message Posted On Oct 19th, 2012, 5:19 pm
I am fast losing interest with this show. *** Give us some more of the hyper-realistic fire-fighting and phyroscience - as well as be more daring and less predictable with the characters/arc...

Message Posted On Oct 19th, 2012, 2:48 pm
The fact that he shares an apartment with the gay female paramedic and spurns the advances of the hottie tells me that Severide is obviously gay.
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