Thursday, March 30, 2017

REVIEW: NBC's 'Chicago Justice,' 'Chicago Fire,' 'Chicago P.D.' and 'Chicago Med' (March 26-30)

Reviews for NBC's Chicago franchise from March 26-30:

NBC's Chicago Justice - Episode 1.06 "Dead Meat"
NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 5.17 "Babies and Fools"
NBC's Chicago P.D. - Episode 4.18 "Little Bit of Light"
NBC's Chicago Med - Episode 2.18 "Lessons Learned"

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 Justice - "Dead Meat"
30 miles outside of Chicago, the cancer riddled body of Chicago PD Officer Tim Cody is found dead in a bathtub. An apparent suicide. But when Antonio and Nagel arrive on scene they quickly determine his death was murder. The trail leads to an old nemesis of Stone's and he has to make new law to put him away. Written by Lawrence Kaplow and directed by Eriq La Salle

"Dead Meat" presents a case that is incredibly personal to Stone and Antonio. It leads them back to a guy who got away with murder because they took the case to a jury and lost. And yet, the story never really feels all that personal. That's largely the biggest component missing from this series so far. On the Chicago shows, the workplace is very important. It gives each show's episodes their story engine. But the personal lives are just as important. It makes it appear that their lives are more than just the job. A strict structure on this show robs the characters of that. It's a different style. The cases of the season so far have been strong and interesting. It's fascinating to see Stone argue why double jeopardy doesn't apply to this case. And yet, it would have been a richer viewing experience if there was some kind of personal stakes for these characters instead of following the same Law & Order pattern. Plus, it seemed inevitable that Stone would get this guy for both murders. It may have been more fascinating if the widow had to accept her husband's killer going behind bars for a different crime. B-

Chicago Fire - "Babies and Fools"
When similar car accidents uncover the fact that someone may be targeting innocent people, a determined Gabby takes matters into her own hands to help push things along. Severide does everything he can to make Anna feel welcome in her new Chicago surroundings. Herrmann, Kidd and Gabby decide to have Molly's included as a stop in this year's pub crawl, despite strong concerns from Otis, who may have his own reasons for standing alone. Casey tends to his Alderman's duties when a persistent constituent asks for his help in resolving an issue. Written by Michael Gilvary, Liz Alper & Ally Seibert and directed by Holly Dale

The mystery of the car accident story wasn't all that engaging. Just one look at the episode description and I was on the lookout for something at the first crash. That made it seem inevitable that the good samaritan helping would be the one causing these accidents. And yet, it was still fascinating to see Gabby as a detective - a story thread that has contempt for any police department character who's not from Chicago P.D. Plus, the final action set piece with the ambulance being targeted is very thrilling. Meanwhile, it's been awhile since the show has told a story about Casey being an alderman. It has a predictable sense to it as well. One should never dismiss someone as crazy because they may be right after all. Casey and Gabby both help people this week. That allows them to reflect on family once more. It's probably likely that that will become important again moving forward. Elsewhere, the Severide-Anna romance continues to be great, simple and realistic. It treats her move to Chicago with the importance it deserves. And finally, Otis being upset with Herrmann for always dismissing his ideas felt a little too forced and awkward. That can't possibly be true, can it? B

Chicago P.D. - "Little Bit of Light"
When Chicago's "Night Crawler" Bobby Trent is murdered over a single piece of mysterious footage, Intelligence must investigate one of Chicago's wealthiest families - uncovering a lineage of old money and secrets. Burgess' sister, Nicole, arrives at the District for a visit, and presents an icy attitude towards Ruzek. Written by Gwen Sigan and directed by Lin Oeding

There is a twist that happens in this episode that is pretty similar to something that just happened on Chicago Justice a week ago. A crucial piece of evidence that was enough for the victim to be killed over is discovered inside his body. It is a key turning point in both investigations. Here, it allows the detectives to build a case against the killer using his daughter and the tragic reveal of him raping her. But it hardly feels original since it happened elsewhere in this extended universe. That's the problem with this franchise producing so many episodes each year. Similar ideas are bound to pop up. It's just odd that the two episodes aired so closely together. Moreover, all the stuff with the young girl playing piano just felt too disconnected from the rest of the case. Meanwhile, Lindsay and Jay deciding to play things cooler at work was lame and just a minor part of the episode. And then, Burgess learning that her sister is getting divorced has the potential to be fascinating. But it's largely in setup mode here. Plus, it's weird that Ruzek doesn't understand why Burgess' sister hates him. That's further proof of just how inept and oblivious he is. C+

Chicago Med - "Lesson Learned"
Will is troubled with a moral decision when his former teacher is faced with a life-threatening disease. Dr. Rhodes and Dr. Bardovi get involved in a sensitive situation when Rhodes disagrees with the father of a young patient regarding a risky procedure. Dr. Charles and Sarah handle an unusual case with a pilot that causes Sarah to have memories of Jason Wheeler's suicide. Maggie takes an aggressive approach to training a new nurse. Written by Safura Fadavi and directed by Michael Pressman

It's seemingly impossible for this show to tell a story about Will and Natalie without it ultimately pivoting to romantic angst. Things would have been perfectly fine if their story ended with Natalie hugging Will after the death of his mentor. But instead, Nina sees that and reads more into it than it is. Plus, the actual case wasn't good because it once again focused on Will's self-righteousness as a doctor ultimately doing more harm than good. It's something he has done before. The fact that he still acts this way is incredibly annoying. Elsewhere, Connor seems to be projecting his own father issues on a case. It's been awhile since his father has been seen on the show. Not since last season. So bringing him up now likely foreshadows a return. However, it is nice to see Connor and Robin as the stable couple of the season. They are open and honest with each other. And finally, it was fascinating to see Charles, Choi and Sarah have different opinions about their patient. But unsurprisingly, Charles turns out to be right. At least, the show makes sure it's a complicated ending that doesn't suddenly give Sarah the peace she needs right now. B-