Wednesday, October 10, 2012

'Chicago Fire' Premiere Review - 1.01 Pilot

        On the series premiere of NBC's Chicago Fire, Lt. Matthew Casey and Lt. Kelly Severide blame each other after the death of one of their own; Casey also is dealing with his separation from Dr. Hallie; Chief Wallace Boden is confronted by important personal decisions; paramedics Gabriela Dawson and Leslie Shay face an investigation; Peter Mills joins the squad; and veteran Christopher Herrmann loses his home to foreclosure.

        The show that NBC is selling in its advertisements and its descriptions is almost completely different than what this show actually is. The marketing makes this show sound and look very exciting with some great people to look at. Unfortunately, the actually version is a muddled-down firefighter drama with bland characters and no instant spark that makes me want to see Episode 2.
        The main issue with this pilot is that none of the characters really "light" up as much as the show wants them to. The most entertaining parts of this pilot were the fires even though those scenes made it very difficult to distinguish which character was which. Thusly the emotional aspects that the show builds to in the final act is very underwhelming as it is confusing to remember where everyone is and which ones were injured. The main characters were also very poorly crafted as each one only had one thing that truly defined them as a character. Casey is the lead firefighter but he is only memorable for going through a separation. Severide is a hot head taking drugs. The chief has weird scarring on his back. Herrmann apparently lost his house in the pilot's biggest throwaway line. There's a new guard to the station. The two females are paramedics and one is a lesbian. The other (Monica Raymund) was the best utilized character in terms of an ongoing story throughout the pilot but even she suffered from a lack of personality. All of these elements can pay off done the line as they got more focus on each one. The pilot literally took a second to define each character and their tragic story and then did nothing to develop them.
        By the end of the pilot, I cared about all of these characters about the same as I had after just seeing the 3-minute preview for the series. The show had forty minutes and still couldn't effectively craft unique characters who drive the story instead we got plots that characters have to react to. Sure that structure could work for episodic television but it is not the best strategy to use for a pilot and the show deadly suffers from it.

So what did everyone think of the premiere? Did you find many of the characters to be too bland? Share your thoughts in the comments.