REVIEW: ‘Chicago Fire’ (NBC – Wednesday, 10:00 p.m.)

EDITORIAL NOTE: To understand how we do our reviews, please refer to our review of Revolution, here.

No job is more stressful, dangerous or exhilarating than those of the Firefighters, Rescue Squad and Paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51. These are America’s everyday heroes — the courageous men and women who forge headfirst into danger when everyone else is running the other way. But the enormous responsibilities of the job also take a personal toll. Big reputations and hefty egos, coupled with the pressure to perform and make split-second decisions, are bound to put squad members at odds. When a tragedy claims one of their own, there’s plenty of guilt and blame to go around. In the middle of a divorce, Lt. Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer, “House M.D.”) tries to go about business as usual but can’t help butting heads with the brash Lt. Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney, “The Vampire Diaries”) of the Rescue Squad – and each blames the other for their fallen team member.  When it’s “go-time” though, they put aside their differences and put everything on the line for each other. “Chicago Fire” is a look inside one of America’s noblest professions. Also starring are Eamonn Walker (“The Messenger”), Charlie Barnett, (“Law & Order: SVU”), David Eigenberg (“Sex and the City”), Monica Raymund (“The Good Wife”), Lauren German (“Hawaii Five-O”), Teri Reeves (“Three Rivers”) and Merle Dandridge (“Sons of Anarchy”).  “Chicago Fire” is produced by Universal Television and Wolf Films.  Emmy Award-winning creator/ producer Dick Wolf (“Law & Order” brand), Derek Haas (“3:10 to Yuma”), Michael Brandt (“3:10 to Yuma”), Peter Jankowski (“Law & Order” brand) and Danielle Gelber serve as executive producers.  Haas and Brandt wrote the pilot, which was directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff (“Homeland”). From renowned Emmy-winning producer Dick Wolf and the writing team behind “3:10 to Yuma” comes an edge-of-your-seat view of a dirty job that often means the difference between life and death. – NBC

Score:     38 out of 100

Initial Impressions (May 20, 2012):  As much as we admit our bias in favor of J.J. Abrams, we are as equally honest about our bias against Dick Wolf who really hasn’t done anything creative in over twenty years.  But our biases aside, we would have the same opinon of Chicago Fire regardless of who developed it because anyone could have developed this cookie-cutter series.  It doesn’t really seem much different from anything that’s come before.  It’s simply a bland procedural with generic characters thrown in and an attempt to portray some kind of personal drama between the characters.  Sorry, Dick, but we’ve seen all of this before, we’re not impressed.  It’s not awful it’s just nothing new.

Shawn:  Yet another reason to hate Dick Wolf.  It wasn’t bad enough that he single-handedly destroyed the the police procedural for more than two decades turning a decent concept into a bunch of recycled garbage but now he has his sights on fire and rescue first responders with this terrible series.

Before I start tearing into this series, let’s take a look at the poster above.  Notice how it looks like it was ripped from one of those charity calendars and everyone looks like a supermodel?  It really is a metaphor for everything that’s wrong with the show.

The big problem with Chicago Fire is that it’s trying to convince us that it’s an accurate portrayal, albeit dramatized, of what life in a major city fire department is like but it doesn’t just fail in the five minutes, it fails right in that poster.  The characters and their dialogue are as equally superficial and quite frankly, you want to start punching them repeatedly in the face before the first commercial break.  I mean, seriously, you knew it was all going downhill when during the first five minutes you’re exposed to not only the most cocky and clichéd dialogue imaginable but a pissing match between two top firefighters reminiscent of a spat between twelve year-old middle school girls.

Once you get beyond that, it gets even worse by presenting a lousy version of Third Watch with far too many subplots involving each of the cast of thousand and you’re left in the end not being emotionally invested or caring about a single one of them. I don’t what’s more predictable and unbelievable, the characters or the plotlines, themselves.

Chicago Fire is a horrible series for anyone that appreciates actual compelling drama as opposed to what Dick Wolf calls drama but it’s not unwatchable.  If forced to, I could sit through it but if I have a choice, I won’t be.

Chance of Renewal:  80%

Like I’ve said, this is the typical crap that American audiences lap up.  As the current ratings indicate, this mess will probably be picked up for a second season.

Watch Chicago Fire, here.