Monday, May 23, 2011

The Chicago Code "Mike Royko's Revenge" Review

Throughout the thirteen episode run of The Chicago Code, I complained about several episodes and praised others. I accused the series of the same laziness that makes other network procedural cop dramas unwatchable. In my defense, I never enjoy the case-of-the-week stories in any procedural show whether it's Joss Whedon's shows or a police drama. It frustrates me that the core characters become secondary players to tertiary characters who will never be seen in the series. The middle portion of the season had too many of these stories, which drove me mad. Once upon a time, though, I named the pilot episode one of the top 5 episodes of 2010-2011. I related to the characters. I felt like they were fully developed. I couldn't wait to watch the rest of the series.

After three months, "Mike Royko's Revenge" reminded me what I loved about The Chicago Code--its characters. I had a smile on my face at the end, when each character found happiness and peace. Alderman Ronin Gibbons resided in a jail cell, alone, paying for the crimes he committed and the corruption he cultivated in the city of Chicago. I don't ask for much from a television series. In the end, I want to be entertained and I want to be moved. Of course, I want thought-provoking stories that explore deep themes and philosophies about life and death, love and war, the nature of mankind, etc. If a series evokes honest feeling within me then the show succeeded, and the end of The Chicago Code succeeded.

The stakes in part two were less contrived than part one. Gibbons continued to scheme various ways to avoid indictment; however, Teresa possessed a cool confidence that didn't exist in the first part of the season finale. Of course, she held all the cards and Gibbons had to scramble for any sort of leverage. He accused her of sleeping with Antonio and called for her resignation. Teresa and Cuyler, though, made a deal with Killian that would lead to an indictment against the Alderman. Before Killian could testify, Gibbons' lover murdered the mobster to prevent Teresa from destroying a great man's life. The superintendent nearly resigned (through force of the mayor) before Jarek the White Knight arrived with solid and devastating evidence against Gibbons. The good guys got the bad guys.

What I liked about the resolution of the arc was the smooth and seemingly effortless way the writers told the story of Vincent Wysocki, and wrapped up THAT arc. If Liz Killian held the powerful testimony against Gibbons, that would've been disappointing and hollow. Instead, Jarek's brother Vincent, who turned out to be a dirty cop in pursuit of redemption and forgiveness he never received in life because someone killed him, worked undercover during a time when Gibbons was sloppier and prone to mistakes. Jarek had to deal with the truth that his brother sullied the badge he wore to a certain degree, that he died because he behaved badly and stupidly, that he didn't die as an honorable undercover cop. Without his brother, though, Gibbons would've continued to walk around the city a free man. The truth about his brother freed Jarek from the burden he carried for years and allowed him to find happiness with his fiancé, who he reunited with. It helped that Jason Clarke played the hell out of the scenes when he watched the video tape and told his father and niece the truth about Vincent.

I don't have much more to write about The Chicago Code. Colvin's opening narrative conveyed the essence of the series. She told us about Mike Royko who wanted nothing more than the landlords of corruption behind bars, and Teresa made the dream a reality. It'd be great if real life reflected fiction but it doesn't. But TCC's an example of why fiction's need. We need these visions of positive law enforcement, of government, of justice being served to corrupt city officials. I'm glad I watched The Chicago Code and experienced the writers' vision of Chicago. Time well spent.

Shawn Ryan & Christal Henry wrote the episode. Lesli Linka Glatter directed it.


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About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.