Chicago Code: Canceled On Account of Grimness

Why? Wysocki. It’s a shame the show couldn’t find its footing before bean-counters pulled the plug, and a significant financial loss for the real Chicago. But while you’re waiting for “Boss,” check out “Crime Story.”

Dmitry Samarov, who watched more of Chicago Code than I could deal with, has the most thoughtful take on the show’s problems that I’ve read. I was fine with the slightly berserk geography, the cartographic equivalent of the “555” prefix. And I actually thought the “Irish Mob” was sort of a wry joke. But this I fully endorse:

It’s tough to hook an audience when there isn’t a single compelling character on your show. Jarek Wysocki, despite that Polish name, was always a vague, blank-slate of a protagonist. I never understood what he was always so angry and impatient about. No matter how much tragic back-story the writers piled on, I never got any sense of where this guy was coming from. They made him a Sox fan too (as if to piss me off on purpose.)

Wysocki reminded me of Deadwood’s Seth Bullock, aka Squinty, the archetypal ambiently angry law-enforcement officer who expends so much energy being grim that it’s impossible to imagine any being left over for law enforcement. Each line rumbled out through gritted teeth.

It’s not impossible to base a story on such a character; Wysocki reminded me, conceptually, of The Searchers‘ Ethan Edwards. But it’s a lot to ask from a serial; the character ground me down like so many hard vowels. It is a shame for the city, though; Chicago Code was a big-budget show—and to its credit, it looked it—and that’s a lot of money the city will lose out on.

Anyway, while you’re waiting to see if the Gus Van Sant-directed Boss pans out (Van Sant’s Milk was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen about city politics, so I have hope), you might check out Crime Story to fill your Chicago drama needs. It’s set in Chicago, and you won’t have any problem’s with the star’s accent; Dennis Farina was an 18-year veteran of the CPD before he played a cop on TV.

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