NBC, Dick Wolf & Co. unspooled their latest franchise on Wednesday night with the premiere of the Chicago Fire spin-off Chicago P.D. But does a dirty cop make for a great drama?
Before you chime in with your snappy judgements, here’s a brief refresher of the players and action: Sergeant Hank Voight (played by Jason Beghe), who tormented Casey on Chicago Fire and went to jail for his crooked ways, is now the head of the Intelligence Unit. He runs the division by his own rules. He instructs his team to come to him and only him with any intel — and should they go over his head, “it’ll be the last head you go over,” he warns them. He butts heads with the boss of Violent Crimes. He beats a criminal until the lawbreaker gives him the info he needs. And someone from Internal Affairs is calling about him. You get the (dirty) picture.
But Voight also has a softer side, which he exhibits when he promises to help a young boy get out of the gangster life. The biggest proof that the Sergeant has a decent heart may be in his relationship with Detective Erin Lindsay (One Tree Hill‘s Sophia Bush). When a colleague notices Voight’s business card taped to Lindsay’s locker and asks her how old the worn down paper is, Lindsay replies 13 years. So what’s the story there? Voight saved her life, is all she says.
The rest of the team is filled out by Detectives Antonio Dawson (The Pacific‘s Jon Seda) and Jay Halstead (The Mob Doctor‘s Jesse Lee Soffer), who should be familiar to Fire fans. Lindsay sets up the latter with a friend of hers, but we’re betting on the two pretty detectives hooking up by season’s end.
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There’s also veteran Detective Alvin Olinsky (The Killing‘s Elias Koteas), the controller of all things tech; Detective Sheldon Jin (CSI‘s Archie Kao); Officer Kevin Atwater (Fire‘s LaRoyce Hawkins), who throws a party at Molly’s — Hermann being Hermann screws himself over by taking a flat $200 rather than 50 percent of the total door cover — and flight attendant-turned-Officer Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati, aka Dan’s agent on Gossip Girl. You’re welcome). To hunt down Pulpo (“The Octopus”), a notorious drug dealer who is fond of beheadings, the series also pulls brash Officer Adam Ruzek (The 4400‘s Patrick John Flueger) out of the Academy.
One person, however, doesn’t make the cut. Melissa Sagemiller’s Jules gets caught up in the war between the Intelligence Unit and Violent Crimes, leading her to get shot. Fire‘s Dawson and Shay show up to save her life, but since it’s already been reported that Sagemiller won’t be continuing with the show, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t survive. Unfortunately, the cliffhanger — Antonio’s son is taken by the bad guys — also has been given away in the promos.
So the big question coming out of the premiere seems to be the same one the characters are wondering: What’s the deal with Lindsay and Voight, who says he has big plans for her?
Another question to ponder: Does the crimes-to-solve nature of P.D. make it more similar to the Law & Order franchise than the more relationship-driven, slightly lighter Chicago Fire? After all, that was one pretty serious pilot. (To be fair, Fire is a rescue show, making it more hopeful. It’s hard to play up love triangles and fit in laughs when people are being beheaded.)
Now it’s time for you to weigh in on Chicago P.D. Grade the premiere below, then hit the comments with your thoughts!Follow @VladaGelman