Wednesday, March 22, 2017

REVIEW: NBC's 'Chicago Justice' and 'Chicago P.D.' (March 19-22)

Reviews for NBC's Chicago franchise from March 19-22:

NBC's Chicago Justice - Episode 1.05 "Friendly Fire"
NBC's Chicago P.D. - Episode 4.17 "Remember the Devil"

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.

If you're looking for a review of this week's Chicago Fire, you can find it here.

Chicago Justice - "Friendly Fire"
When a man is found stabbed to death in his home, Nagel and Antonio discover he was an ex-Navy SEAL who was writing a book that exposed the truth about a top-secret mission. Stone becomes convinced that the SEAL was killed to suppress the real story of what actually happened on the failed mission. But the Department of Justice steps in and insists that this strong evidence of motive is classified, thereby jeopardizing Stone's case. When Stone defies Jefferies and uses the secret evidence, will it cost him his job? Written by Richard Sweren & April Fitzsimmons and directed by Stephen Cragg

Chicago Justice
 seems to be the quickest of the Chicago shows to have found its identity. The other three shows struggled in their first seasons before finding their grooves in their second. Perhaps Justice feels more fully formed because its formula is exactly the same as Law & Order. That's a strong possibility. And yet, it's simplicity really works as well. Yes, all of the cases so far have featured complex subject matter. That continues here with Stone having to make a crucial decision about using the video of the failed SEAL mission as evidence in his murder case. This hour works because it puts Stone and Jefferies against each other. It makes it so its easy to understand where they are coming from. Jefferies is informed by a military background and the ability to recognize the sacrifice veterans make to protect the ideals of America. Meanwhile, Stone is idealistic and believes in a transparent government that owns up to its failures. Sure, Jefferies ultimately backing down with his ultimatum felt inevitable. It would have changed up the formula of the show too much with Stone getting fired. But the intensity of the story really helped define these characters and the dynamic they have. B+

Chicago P.D. - "Remember the Devil"
After being tipped off about a woman running barefoot through the woods, Intelligence is led to a kidnapping victim locked up in a shipping container. The bizarre scenario leaves Voight questioning the legitimacy of the case, and sends the team on a twisted trail to get to the bottom of it. A former relationship of Jay's comes back into the picture, much to the surprise of Lindsay. Written by Mike Weiss and directed by Rohn Schmidt

Okay, this case was just weird. It's fine for the show to experiment with story. It gets monotonous after awhile to see the same types of stories and dynamics amongst the Intelligence unit. But this case was just weird and hard to follow. At least, the characters commented that it was a weird one. However, that didn't lead to any profound insight about this story. They just said it was weird and then moved on to the next plot beat. The overall effect was confusing and lackluster. It was suppose to be ambiguous over who the mastermind really was. But by the end of the hour, I just didn't care anymore. The introduction of Jay's wife is the other major story of the episode. And yet, that just further showcases that the creative team behind all of the Chicago shows just don't know how to tell stories about happy couples. They still operate under the belief that happy is boring. Jay and Lindsay are a fine couple. But it's just odd to throw this new wrinkle in their relationship when they just had all the stuff with Lindsay's "dad" earlier this season. It feels like too much in the hopes of keeping things exciting and dramatic. But it ultimately feels like just manipulating the audience for the sake of plot and tension. C