What do you get when you cross famed TV Producer Dick Wolf, best known for his Law & Order franchise, with Hill Street Blues?
Chicago PD is the answer. The brand new NBC-TV series, a spin-off of the Chicago Fire Series, and the chosen replacement for the short-lived Ironside which got yanked off the air after just three episodes, is a gritty police drama. Jason Beghe stars as Sgt. Hank Voight, the head of an intelligence unit of the CPD.
Like Hill Street Blues, the series will focus both on uniformed police patrol and plain clothes detectives. Hopefully the show will be about the intersection of both the personal and professional lives of the characters, with the main thrust being the pursuit of those involved in major street crimes.
At the head of the cast list is Jason Beghe as Voight, Jon Seda (above) as Detective Antonio Dawson, and Elias Koteas (below) as Alvin Olinsky, an undercover detective.
There are two females listed in the main cast – Sophia Bush (above) as Detective Erin Lindsay, and Marina Squerciati as Officer Kim Burgess.
The premiere episode was broadcast on the NBC network tonight (Jan 8th, 2014). Chicago PD will seem familiar to you, which is to be expected. You could say they went by the numbers. Straight out of the cop show playbook. Well maybe they did. But to this viewer, when you have fresh faces , and the numbers , even if they’re old formulaic numbers, add up, you are going to watch a very worthwhile and effective show.
When I say by the numbers, I mean stuff you’ve seen before. What they call the standard cop show situations. Here’s what I mean:
1 Chase on foot involving a link fence and a tackle into a pile of garbage bags
1 Buy and Bust on the street
1 Dirt Bag Lieutenant from another unit who demands a joint effort, then withholds information, which leads to
1 Cop shot – right through an apartment door (like we saw in Serpico)
1 budding romance between unit members
1 tough commander who tells Voight, If I find out you’re a dirty cop, I’ll personally throw you off a roof.
1 unit pre-shift meeting by Voight: From now on we keep everything in-house. I don’t care how they do it in other units, but I need to know the truth, so I can lie for you. If you ever go over my head, it will be the last head you ever go over.
That was a whole lot different than the talk given by Sergeant Phil Esterhaus to the uniforms on Hill Street 32 years ago, which went Hey, let’s be careful out there. But it does establish that Voight besides the gravitas is not only tough, but he’ll have the back of his guys.
1 married cop with a young son who idolizes him
1 Desk Sergeant
2 Door breaches in the first half hour
and 2 Decaps – that’s the short form for decapitations.
The opening episode centers around bringing down the Columbian cowboy known as El Pulpo (The Octopus). He’s called that because, in his words, he’s got his hands into everything. He’s tough and mean, and has no qualms about having his way or you’re gonna lose your head.
Voight’s team thinks they have his 10-20 (location) but as they approach, there’s hail of gunfire. As they take cover, Voight yells, Get the long guns (the heavy automatic weapons) as hand guns won’t be sufficient.
Now that was new and quite different than ‘Call for back-up‘. On the other hand, Officer Down!! is straight from the playbook.
I think Wolf has put together a fine police show. I know many of you are tired of them, but I think this one will definitely make an impact on you. Beghe as Voight has a gravely voice, and sometimes you won’t catch everything he says. He’ll remind you both a young Ed Harris and a younger James Caan. From the looks of him, I think you’re going to like the way he can snarl. And let’s not forget that the show was shot on location in Chicago.
Jon Seda, who was Detective Paul Falsone on Homicide: Life on the Street, is back in form as Voight’s top cop. Sophia Bush plays Detective Erin Lindsay who has a history with Voight which is so far unexplained. She’s also great looking, and has a bit of a ballsy manner to her.
The action is fierce and exciting, and there’s plenty of testosterone in the air. What I think we can expect is that Voight will break the rules when he has to, he’ll dance in and out of trouble, and he’ll go to bat for his unit. The pacing is good as we get a quick view of the cops at the office coffee pot, and a whole lot more time out on the streets. It’s gonna be bloody and brutal.
And it’s going to be very good. They even managed to build in a cliff hanger at the end of Episode One to make sure we return for the Second Episode.
Have a look at the clip: