When thinking about all of this fall's new shows, most of them stick out in our minds either because of their quality, or sheer awfulness. But Chicago Fire falls somewhere smack in the middle -- it's one of those shows that is so generic, we almost thought that it had started airing weeks ago and had been canceled already. It isn't a truly terrible series, but it treads on so much familiar ground that it's impossible to care strongly about in any way.
The saddest part is that it feels like it's just a belated substitute for NBC's former series Third Watch, as this show also features some very pretty people and focuses on firemen and EMTs. All that's missing is the cop element. Still, there's enough here to fill up a Wednesday evening for those who didn't turn the TV off after Law & Order: SVU (you know, those people who don't know how to operate a DVR) and for some reason don't watch CSI. But us? We'd much rather tune in to the unique and well-acted Nashville, though granted, if nothing else is on one week, and somehow the batteries in our remotes died, perhaps we'd watch another installment of Chicago Fire, even if we'd forget it by the next morning.
It's your standard procedural about a firehouse, but it lacks the innovative and envelope-pushing qualities of Rescue Me, and doesn't even have the intense action scenes that the short-lived Trauma offered up a few seasons ago. Instead, it relies heavily on the attractiveness of its male leads Casey (played by House alum Jesse Spencer) and Severide (the former Mason Lockwood from Vampire Diaries). Casey heads up the fire trucks (and is coping with a crumbling relationship with his wife), while Severide runs the much-lauded rescue squad (and has some mysterious illness and is hooking up with a superior). Wouldn't you know it, they tend to find themselves at odds because they blame each other for the recent death of a coworker.
Also in the mix are Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker), who is considering moving to an easier house to finish out his career; Hermann (David Eigenberg) whose house has been foreclosed on and that's before he suffers a pretty big injury; Dawson (Monica Raymund), the EMT who performs risky procedures to save lives; her partner Shay (Lauren German), who is a lesbian and has no other immediately evident personality traits; and the adorably eager newbie Peter Mills (Charlie Barnett).
They fight fires that usually involve having an EMT save the patients once they've been pulled from the burning building, and then they go back and do it all over again. Naturally, the new guy gets tormented and hazed. There's a lot of smack talking in general and much ado is made about the person stuck working the kitchen.
It's just missing an edge or a fresh angle to make this at all distinctive. The show could very well run for ages (though we wouldn't bet on it), but with such a large ensemble, it's hard to connect with any of these characters, especially since the need for big action sequences eats up opportunities to delve deeper into the characters. There is time for random sex in the firehouse, however, which probably won't hurt when it comes to ratings.
What did you think of the premiere? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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