TV Just Got Hot, Hot, Hot

Chicago Fire, NBC

This last Wednesday, women’s TV got a little more exciting. NBC’s newest show Chicago Fire is an hour long drama centered on the Chicago Fire Department and their lives in and out side of the department.

Chicago Fire puts House’s Jesse Spencer front and center. An under appreciated actor, his wide range was not shown as the too cute Aussie on Gregory House’s team. On his new drama, TV viewers will get a look his dramatic chops that are unknown to those that haven’t seen Swimming Upstream (It’s on Netflix instant streaming; watch it now!). And, yes, he can perform as the main center of the show. Take that Jennifer Morrison!

The pilot is more than just a fire department procedural. Each character has a rich story and issues in their lives. It is this character development that gives the show its sticking power. The fire sequences are fun and exciting and are changes from watching police chase criminals on foot or wheels. The two components make it a unique addition to the network television. Plus, it adds a little more beef cake in a world centered on big busted women with little butts.

As the pilot opens, the Chicago Fire Department is on site at a fire in progress. The fire squad and the rescue squad are trying to fight the fire when they loose one of their own. This leads to tension between the two squads as each captain tries to deal with the after affect of the event. Lt. Matthew Casey (Spencer) in charge of the truck team and the Rescue Squad’s Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) blame one another and can’t wait seem to find a good working relationship. But all the team members have more than just work drama in their lives. Casey is going through a separate from fiancé, Severide is battling some kind of pain, and seasoned fire fighter Christopher Herrman has a house that been foreclosed as well as on the job injuries. Watching each of these men and women deal with their trails and then put them aside as they trying to save the lives of many citizens is inspiring. It reminds me there are things in this world bigger than ourselves, especially fire.

One of the best aspects of the show is the variety of cast members. In a culture where having a minority or two is the norm; the show seamlessly integrates characters of gender, orientation and race as a tight group of close nit friends. Except for one odd explanation of homosexuality, the combination does not seem forced and contrite nor does it seem like the show is jumping on the “cool minority” bandwagon (the variety is not for humor or spectacle).

As a woman, I have been more and more excited that TV and film are going after the female demographic without movies and shows just being a crying cheese fest. What Magic Mike did for movies, Chicago Fire is doing that on a smaller scale. I read a complaint that the promo poster was a Chippendale ad. That’s the point. Expressing women’s sexuality with soot smugged or toned shirtless firemen is new to network TV. Cable has long taken advantage of women’s desire for good looking men in shows like Nip/Tuck where you know if a gorgeous guest star was on he would see his butt (including my high school crush Mario Lopez and Bradley Cooper) to Sons of Anarchy (ask any woman who Jax Teller is, I dare you). Even though it’s still shunned, men should be ready because gender equality is finally coming to TV and films. Networks are finally selling to women and the idea that we are sexual being.

Now that I have spent two paragraphs on the sociological aspect of the show, let get back to the simple thinking that many have when viewing a TV show. Chicago Fire is exciting and character driven and probably the best show NBC has had in years.

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What Now? Fall’s New Shows

Every fall networks try to peddle their news shows hoping that they find a wide audience. Often my favorite shows like Dollhouse don’t make it very far, but shows that I abandon after three episodes, like Bones, continue for years. It’s why I like to get into established shows even though each year I try out a few new ones. Here’s my take on the new Fall shows. We’ll see what lasts on what doesn’t.

Best Bets

Elementary

This is by far the show I am most excited about this Fall. This modern day tale of Sherlock Holmes transplants Holmes to New York City and played by Jonny Lee Miller. Fresh out of rehab, he and his live in sober companion become consultants for the police department. But here’s the twist: Watson is played by Lucy Liu and she has a past of her own. These two must overcome their pasts to move forward with their future.

Miller is a fantastic actor and will add so much to the role of Holmes. I really look forward to see the chemistry between him and Liu. But don’t expect to see the two romantically involved. Instead they will have romances of their own that will be complicated by their living situation. I find this a very fresh approach as women and men as co-workers.

Chicago Fire

Jesse Spencer as a fireman.

Well, really I need to say more than that. This Dick Wolf creation (Law & Order) delves into the lives of the Chicago Fire Department. Part procedural, part character oriented, this drama promises to be more than just eye candy. I am excited to see something other than a police procedural, reality TV show, or worn out sitcom this season. Chicago Fire should add flame to a boring Fall season.

WTF?

Revolution

15 years after the world looses electricity a group of survivors try to restore power to the earth. This J.J. Abrams vehicle sounds as interesting as Alcatraz and just as short lived. The show will focus on the quest to turn the power back on, but not on how or why it was turned off.

Millions of questions spring to mind. How can all the power go off? In 15 years why haven’t they used water wheels and such for rudimentary electricity? Why does the preview show someone with electricity? Where did they find all those swords?

I remember when JJ Abrams made good TV and that ended with the third season of Alias. His radical premises may have charmed some, but I have no patience for contrived plots and confusing story lines.

Animal Practice

This comedy about a veterinary practice features an ad that shows vets and techs rushing with an injured dog on a gurney being check our by a monkey. It all goes down hill from there. The show center around a man who works for his ex he now runs the veterinary hospital. On of the cast even told Entertainment Weekly that they knew the show was a long shot. If the cast feels that way, what is the point of the show’s existence?

On the Fence

The New Normal

From the mind of Ryan Murphy comes a semi-biographical tale of two gay men and a surrogate. Add to an already tense situation a racist grandmother and the show has the potential to make a statement. Even though the show presents the liberal and conservative sides of the gay parent argument, the show is already being banned by certain stations. You have two crowds for this show: those that want it gone and those that want it to succeed because of the egalitarian content. This show will succeed or fail not based on the quality of the show, but because of the hype.

Gallery

House Locks Up

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