If there was anyone that wanted concrete proof that the world of television, and particularly the world of television writer employment is an enigma, look no further than the career of Shawn Ryan. He has had the dubious reputation of being quite possibly the most canceled writer/show runner in Hollywood today. Shows such as Lie to Me, The Unit, The Chicago Code, Last Resort, and Terriers have all been canceled, the last two being within the first season. Only in Hollywood could someone repeatedly be canceled and yet repeatedly finding new jobs.
When I started Grizzly Bomb, it was largely done with one focus – Terriers. I had fallen in love with the show and was devastated when I learned that no one else was watching it. My first several articles revolved around an attempt to raise awareness and hopefully boost ratings for the show about the two PIs and their quest to save their beach community. We were far too small however to actually make any kind of impact at the time. Ultimately, the show was canceled. Now there are a lot of things that could be blamed for the show’s fate – poor initial marketing by FX being chief among them. They flooded the channel with advertising, but people simply did not know what the show was about, myself included. I only gave it a chance because it was on FX, a station that seemed to be made specifically for me as I loved their entire schedule at the time. It also didn’t hurt that I was a fan of both Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James, and that Shawn Ryan (The Shield/The Chicago Code) was the man behind it all.
When I started this site last year, the dominating theme at the start had a lot to with an ‘about to be canceled’ series on FX titled Terriers. Despite abysmal ratings I was holding out hope that FX might be willing to renew for a 2nd season, a show that had really moved me. I was so in love with Terriers in fact, that I’d still have to say it was the best new show of 2010, even over things like Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead, and Justified, all which I adore. I wrote articles and e-mails and basically begged people to watch it, but in the end, it was all for naught. The lack of marketing, combined with the confusing nature of the few adds that had been put out ultimately doomed the show.
Tonight marks the 2nd time in that last year that Shawn Ryan created show, which is better than majority of the programming on Television, will be canceled after only a season on the air. The first was of course Terriers, which was one of my favorite shows ever. The next now is The Chicago Code. Tonight was the last episode of the rookie season for the show, and it will in all likely hood be the last episode ever. Unless however it’s gets a rare cable pickup, the way TNT did with NBC’s Southland, . That however is a ‘Hail Mary’ pass thrown up several times a year that almost never gets caught.
For the 2nd show in our Give it a Chance series is on that is already endangered – Fox’s The Chicago Code. It’s no surprise that this show is good, after all it comes from Shawn Ryan, the same guy who gave us Terriers and The Shield. But much like Terriers, the ratings just aren’t there. Granted, it gets roughly 8 times the amount of viewers that Donal Louge and gang got, but on network TV that still may not be enough.
At first glance this may appear to be ‘just another cop show’, but it’s more than that. It’s actually what ABC’s Detroit 1-8-7 should’ve been. Where 1-8-7 looked at my beloved city and ignored the corruption, The Chicago Code has embraced it. Detroit is rotten almost entirely though with corruption reaching the highest levels of local government (Kwame Kilpatrick, Monica Conyers, Stephen A. Hill), 1-8-7 choose to ignore much of this and instead act a publicity piece for the city. The creators constantly sucking up to a city council that didn’t want them there and the characters continually defending the city as if they’d never been there. Refreshingly The Chicago Code instead recognizes the flaws of its setting, and it’s characters attempt to fix said flaws. Perhaps a fantasy of Ryan’s, as he grew up in the ‘Windy City’. I know if I were gonna make a cop show in Detroit I would want my version of the city to be fought for by my protagonist. And that’s whats happening on The Chicago Code.
The fight to save Chicago is done so with some inspired casting. First the guardian of the city and new head of the C.P.D. is Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals) and she is on mission to cleanse the city’s government of corruption. Her muscle – her Ex-Partner Detective Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke). Wysocki is joined by Friday Night Lights star Matt Lauria who plays his young partner Caleb Evers. The trio seem to have excellent chemistry.
Jarek and Caleb are given Carte blanche as far which cases they get to take. This is not popular among the other police which only makes their jobs harder. Also on the job is one of the stars of the short-lived NBC show The Black Donnellys – Billy Lush. Lush plays Undercover Detective Liam Hennessey and is known as a cop to only a very select few.
Liam is undercover with the intent of bring down the most powerful man in Chicago – Alderman Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo). Gibbons not only controls the Police budget, but is also as corrupt as they come. This is the basis of the show. Colvin bringing down Gibbons, the man who appointed her.
Ok, so reading that it does sort of sound like ‘another cop show’, but the stories are woven together in a way that forces you to see the situation from multiple angles. The dialogue is well written, and while not as good as The Shield or Terriers, it’s about as good as you can hope for on network TV…
I’d rank this among the best cop shows on TV right now, right up there with Southland. I gave the show a chance because of Shawn Ryan, but I return to it each week because it is awesomely entertaining. I urge you to give it a chance as well…