Friday, February 17, 2017

REVIEW: NBC's 'Chicago Fire,' 'Chicago P.D.' and 'Chicago Med' (February 14-16)

Reviews for NBC's Chicago franchise from February 14-16:

NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 5.13 "Trading in Scuttlebutt"
NBC's Chicago P.D. - Episode 4.14 "Seven Indictments"
NBC's Chicago Med - Episode 2.14 "Cold Front"

Due to the demands of Peak TV, it is becoming more and more difficult for this website to devote the time to full length episodic reviews. And yet, there are still thoughts to be had about the ongoing adventures on a number of series. So I thought it would be good to still write down a couple of brief thoughts about each episode on a weekly basis. Of course, you can still expect full reviews for premieres and finales. If NBC should make screeners available, those episodes would get detailed analysis as well. But for now, this will be the way to continue to provide content for these shows while also being a lighter workload for me.

Chicago Fire - "Trading in Scuttlebutt"
When truck and squad are summoned to the scene of a dangerous accident, Chief Boden makes a split-second decision that overrides Chief Anderson, the incident commander whose house was the first to respond to the call. Feeling his authority was undercut and his reputation damaged, Anderson uses his power to make things miserable for Boden and all of 51 feels the repercussions. Severide contemplates a major life-changing decision. Herrmann does a good deed. Brett looks to make some personal changes to herself. Written by Roger Grant and directed by Reza Tabrizi

Over the years, there have been a number of threats to Firehouse 51 from inside the fire department. Other officials in the field who don't like the way things are done in 51 and try and force their agenda on the firehouse. Of course, they are always proven to be wrong because 51 has to be seen as in the right all of the time. So that makes most of these characters come across as nothing more than one-note antagonists. That goes to the extreme when it comes to Chief Anderson here. He is just such a laughably broad character. And yet, his actions rip the firehouse apart. That plays as this serious plot beat. But it mostly feels like the set up for one episode but not something that will have lingering consequences. Elsewhere, Severide mulling the job offer in Springfield only works if you believe in the possibility of Taylor Kinney leaving the show right now. The series has let many series regular characters go at any point in the season before. But Severide is a main fixture of the series. His departure would create a void. A void that some characters could benefit from. But a void nevertheless. Again, Anna seems like a person worth making this major change. Plus, the show has done enough to give Severide an existential crisis as of late. But the show just needs to commit to a path to make it easier to know how to read things. Right now, it's just in a weird limbo area. B-

Chicago P.D. - "Seven Indictments"
When a charred body is found in a torched house, Intelligence must work to identify the victim, as well as a young boy who is found badly injured inside. As they look to determine the case and who may have been involved, they are faced with a web of secrets and lies. Lindsay and Halstead receive an odd warning about Rixton that leaves them suspicious. Written by Jamie Pachino and directed by Mark Tinker

An episode of Chicago P.D. largely succeeds or fails based on the case-of-the-week. Yes, there are often numerous personal subplots in an episode to give some other focus. But the bulk of the screen time goes to the main case. This week that includes two bodies being found in a fire. It's a case that ultimately just has too many twists to it. It felt like every few minutes there was some new complication added on top of it. As all of those started adding up, it became less and less interesting as a story. And then, it just got completely ridiculous when the homeless guy Platt was dealing with was also somehow involved in this case. That was a perfectly fine subplot that had a good focus with Platt getting stabbed with an unknown needle. It didn't need more than that. But the show went big and became unintentional hilarious in the process. And then, it seems like the show is finally giving Rixton a backstory just as it prepares to say goodbye to him. The unit learns more about his past just as Ruzek comes back to the precinct. However, I wouldn't mind keeping Rixton around as a full time replacement for Ruzek. Ruzek hasn't really been missed in these last few episodes. Rixton hasn't had a ton of depth or importance. But he's been an improvement because he doesn't come with all the moping and baggage that Ruzek has. With Ruzek's return, it brings all that back - including the feeling that Burgess deserves so much better than him. C+

Chicago Med - "Cold Front"
The doctors and nurses of Chicago Med brace for an influx of trauma patients when a pre-dawn pileup finds the hospital in full scramble mode. With Dr. Rhodes and Dr. Latham handling duties in triage, difficult decisions are made. As a result of the storm and emergencies, supplies become limited and Goodwin, Dr. Manning and Dr. Halstead must deal with making an impossible decision. Dr. Choi handles a severely burned patient who has one final request. Dr. Charles deals with an agitated patient who makes his presence known in the waiting room. Written by Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider & Danny Weiss and directed by Michael Waxman

I've been fairly critical of Chicago Med for most of its two season run so far. The character dynamics are just so cliche and boring. There are only a few characters that I really care about. I mostly keep up with the show because of the crossovers that are bound to happen with the other shows. And yet, "Cold Front" really was an excellent episode. It had almost zero personal stories. The one story that did was Dr. Charles dealing with the patient who faked suicide. That was the least effective story because it just didn't fit well with the rest of the hour. This episode was filled with action-focused tension. The pileup on the highway and the snowstorm led to an interesting premise for the show. It was brutal for Rhodes as he had to make a number of tough calls. It was emotional when Choi had to take his patient off of a ventilator. Plus, the show got in one of its typical moral quandaries for the doctors to debate over. Sure, it may have been a little too easy to confine the lack of blood to just one story. Plus, the resolution felt like a long time coming with the doctors donating blood themselves. And then, there's that final beat with Sarah enjoying her time back in the emergency department. Of course, that could lead to a full-on reunion if that other resident continues to fail as a doctor. That story seems a little too pointed to take seriously. But Sarah has really worked well alongside Dr. Charles in psych. The show should keep her there even though this hour needed her help with these traumas of the body. B