Tuesday, November 12, 2013

REVIEW: 'Chicago Fire' Tries to Give Taylor Kinney a George Clooney Moment in 'Joyriding'

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 2.06 Joyriding

While on a jog, Severide comes across an empty construction site and a young boy trapped in a backhoe loader in dire need of assistance; Boden breaks the news about his future to Casey; Mouch and Greg Sullivan debate on Otis' podcast; and questions are being asked about Molly's possible involvement in the fire at Game Day.

Chicago Fire has echoed the long-running NBC drama ER in many ways. They are both set in Chicago but more importantly they depict the life-altering but sometimes mundane lives of medical personnel - doctors on ER and firefighters on Chicago Fire - through a typical workplace shift. Striving to be ER is not a bad thing. ER was a fantastic show and NBC clearly believes that Chicago Fire could be a legitimate hit for them.

I bring up ER to preface this review of "Joyriding" because Chicago Fire really wants to give Taylor Kinney a George Clooney moment. Exactly 18 years ago, ER produced an episode that predominately featured Clooney's Dr. Ross saving a boy in a sewage drain during a mass storm. It was a high stakes moment and a big turning point for that character.

And seeing Chicago Fire trying to do something similar while also being different and original, the effect simply is not the same. It's a good episodic action plot but one that also feels emotionally hollow. How will spending an entire day with this kid effect who Severide is as a character? Right now, I don't think it will have much of an impact. When Ross saved the kid, it gave him a profound realization of the world around him. And simply put, Severide doesn't have a story of weight around him for this experience to make him a changed man. It initially just feels like the show doing it because they can or think it would be a cool and big thing to do for November sweeps.

A large problem with it too is a lack of urgency. On ER, water was rushing in furiously and placing both characters in peril. Here, they simply are trapped in a construction loader. Just sitting there for an entire day. And the hour is really vague on how Severide is pinned down in there as well. No one really notices or cares that Severide is missing - they are too busy with their own plots to worry about him - until the action requires someone else to get involved.

Some more thoughts:
  • Of course, Shay gets to the construction site just as Severide needs her there.
  • "Joyriding" also brought an end to the Mouch running for union president and Molly's in bed with a corrupt old bully plots. I enjoyed the character beats of the Mouch storyline even though that resolution was pretty subpar. And knowing that Jesse Lee Soffer was gonna be on the spinoff series seriously deprived a lot of energy from that aspect of the Molly's story.
  • My favorite moment though was when Casey took the kid to see his father's badge. It was just so simple but felt emotionally earned.