Friday, April 28, 2017

REVIEW: NBC's 'Chicago Justice,' 'Chicago Fire,' 'Chicago P.D.' and 'Chicago Med' (April 23-27)

Reviews for NBC's Chicago franchise from April 23-27:

NBC's Chicago Justice - Episode 1.10 "Drill"
NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 5.19 "Carry Their Legacy"
NBC's Chicago P.D. - Episode 4.20 "Grasping For Salvation"
NBC's Chicago Med - Episode 2.21 "Deliver Us"

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 - "Drill"
After an innocent girl is killed in a gang-related shooting that was instigated on social media, Stone's obsession for justice endangers the family of a cooperating witness. To salvage his crumbling case, Stone must go head-to-head in the courtroom against both the social media providers who inadvertently fueled the gang war and a cocky young man who may have pulled the trigger. Written by Richard Sweren and directed by Vincent Misiano

Stone's self-righteousness is starting to get very annoying. It's a characteristic that has been problematic on other Chicago shows as well. The creative teams are in love with certain characters. To them, those characters can do no wrong even though the audience might see things differently. In this case, Stone always happens to be right which is justification for all of his crazy antics that always get him stern lectures. He never changes his ways because everything works out in the end. It's a pattern that has emerged this season. And yet, it's crippling to the show because it is so fixated on only telling one story in each hour. This characteristic hasn't destroyed the other shows because they are more ensemble driven. Here, Stone is the clear lead and is in charge at all times. It's exhausting and formulaic. Which of these characters is the audience suppose to like? There isn't a clear person to root for. It's suppose to be a bittersweet moment in the end when the man who brought the gun forth in the beginning is killed. But it's the idea of complication without it really being all that complex or insightful. C

Chicago Fire - "Carry Their Legacy"
When the squad's rig breaks down in the field, Casey reunites with his old friend and colleague Jason Kannell from Squad 6, whose crew gets assigned a temporary change of quarters until the rig issue is resolved. Dawson and Brett serve their time in retraining, both tackling the class in unique ways. Severide tries to remedy what is going on with Anna and finds support from unlikely sources. As Connie returns from her family engagement, the crew lays bets on how long her temporary replacement, Marcy, will last. Written by Michael A. O'Shea and directed by Reza Tabrizi

The last few seasons of the show have introduced new recurring characters who join the firehouse near the end of the season in the hopes of making them full-on series regulars in the following one. That was true with Dora Madison and Miranda Rae Mayo. And now, it's seemingly true of Kamal Angelo Bolden as Jason. This episode essentially plays as the introduction of a tragic backstory for this new character who will become important to Casey moving forward. It's harrowing and traumatic. The series does a nice job in showing the action instead of just delivering it to the audience in exposition. But the events are much more important than the character. That's problematic if he's going to be an ongoing presence. Meanwhile, Gabby and Brett going through retraining wasn't worth all of the buildup. And it's absolutely devastating to learn that Anna's cancer has returned. Her relationship with Severide has been so meaningful this season. I don't want her to die. And yet, the show makes it seem inevitable. Perhaps that's to set up a miracle ending. Hopefully, it's not just something new to define Severide. It doesn't seem to be but the potential is still there for a death of a woman being used to give a man new importance. B

Chicago P.D. - "Grasping For Salvation"
While investigating the murder of a teenage boy, Voight finds a connection with the murder weapon - linking it to a case that he worked on 17 years ago. While the victim's father, a prominent defense attorney, tries to get the case taken over by Area Central Homicide, Voight digs back into the old case under the watchful eye of his former partner, Lieutenant Denny Woods. Written by Tiller Russell and directed by David Rodriguez

It's such a cop out for the show to reveal that Voight made a mistake in a homicide case 17 years ago only to have another lieutenant who has never been seen before take all of the blame in the end. That's just so lame. It would have been more meaningful in the story if there were some serious consequences for Voight. Ultimately, it feels like he did nothing in this case all those years ago. Woods was the man who led every aspect of the investigation. It's just a cheap and manipulative way to tell a story. It doesn't build to an interesting place either. It's a fascinating story angle to see a father and son kill people with the some gun many years apart. It's a nice twist on a familiar format. But it ultimately didn't do enough for the main characters of the show. It placed the blame elsewhere. It's been established that Voight was a bad cop before he went to prison. The show just seemingly wants to skirt all of that. So, it has the illusion of meaning while not changing anything for the characters in the immediate future. Voight appears before a review board but nothing serious happens against him except Lindsay being in charge for a little bit. C+

Chicago Med - "Deliver Us"
Dr. Rhodes fights to save a mother who's desperate to help her daughter beat cancer. Dr. Charles asks Sarah to conduct his daughter Robin's psych evaluation but has difficulty staying out of the case. When Will and Dr. Manning spend more time together at work, Nina goes to extreme measures to get Will's attention. Dr. Choi puts pressure on Noah when a residency spot becomes available. Written by Jeff Drayer & Joseph Sousa and directed by Holly Dale

Dr. Charles has always been the comforting voice amidst the chaos on this show. He is frequently in the right solely because he's very good at his job and has been doing it for a long time. That's what makes it so dramatically satisfying to watch when he completely messes up here. The fact that it's his daughter's case makes it needlessly melodramatic. It would have been just as compelling if he did this to someone other than Robin. The fact that it is Robin is suppose to make the audience feel more personally attached. And yes, that dynamic has been important this season. But the story itself in this hour is still largely concerned with Charles and not anyone else. Meanwhile, Connor's case is complicated and fascinating. It did seem a little inevitable that the young girl would have to plead to her mother to get her to choose herself over her baby. And yet, it was still an emotional moment. Elsewhere, it's hard to understand what's going on with April because she's always taken a tough love approach with Noah. But she wants Choi to back off? That makes no sense. And finally, there's the frustrating love triangle. It is just so damn cliche and annoying. The back-and-forth of either Will or Natalie being interested in the other when the other is not is just an old way to tell this story. It's been done a million times and this is a weak execution of it. B