Pilot Perception: Chicago Fire

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Chicago Fire, NBC in the U.S. and GlobalTV in Canada, Wednesdays at 10/9c

The Pedigree: Chicago Fire is from executive producer Dick Wolf (the Law & Order empire) and was created by Derek Haas and Michael Brandt (3:10 to Yuma), who also wrote the pilot.

The Cast & How You Know Them: The ensemble cast includes Jesse Spencer (House), Taylor Kinney (The Vampire Diaries), Monica Raymund (The Good Wife, Lie to Me), Lauren German (Happy Town, Hawaii Five-0), Eamonn Walker (Kings, The Whole Truth), David Eigenberg (Sex and the City, Justified), Teri Reeves (Three Rivers, General Hospital), and relative newcomer Charlie Barnett.

The Premise: Chicago Fire follows the lives, both personal and professional, of the firefighters, paramedics, and rescue squad based out of a Chicago firehouse.

A Taste:

What Works: This pilot was well put together, and the effects in the fire scenes were pretty good. The actors did a decent job, and the characters are a group of people I wouldn’t mind spending more time with. I’m always a sucker for the “group of very different people become a reluctant family” thing. I feel like I’m sounding very lukewarm here, but nothing was bad – the show was fine, but I can’t come up with much more enthusiasm than that.

What Doesn’t: Honestly, the actual firefighting scenes aren’t necessarily always that interesting, especially because with the big suits and helmets, it can be hard to keep track of who’s who and what’s going on. Some of the character beats were way too obvious and cliched, but the ensemble dynamic was interesting enough to make me vaguely curious to see more. Overall, the show struck me as competent but not outstanding.

Our Favorite Line: “My mom used to tell me to keep my mouth shut and just watch. I’m glad I have you here to watch, Chief.”

Other Items of Note: So far as I know this won’t be an ongoing thing, but the show gets major points with me for getting real Chicago mayor (and former Obama chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel to appear in the pilot.

You Might Like This if you like action shows or fast-paced procedurals with strong character elements, or if you’re interested in watching the daily activities of emergency services (though there are no particular pretensions to accuracy). Or if you like shirtless firefighters.

If You’re Interested: Chicago Fire premieres on NBC and GlobalTV tomorrow, Wednesday, at 10/9c.

(Photo courtesy of NBC.)

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