The best way I can describe Chicago Fire is serviceable. It’s not terrible, but not particularly transcendent of the genre either. The beats it hits are often so familiar they are almost worn out, right down to the new guy (Charlie Barnett) putting his name on the fallen comrade’s old locker at the twenty minute mark to the end.
It’s comfortable, and if it lasts a few seasons it could easily play in reruns on TNT alongside episodes of executive producer Dick Wolf’s Law and Order: SVU. But that’s ok too.
Other than the odd reference and Rahm Emanuel’s cameo, the setting doesn’t make a big visceral impact yet, though they did shoot on location. I think the firefighting sequences are carried off well though, which makes sense given the creators action movie credentials.
The two leads, Jesse Spencer (House) and Taylor Kinney (The Vampire Diaries) are, to quote Liz Lemon, superfluously handsome gentleman, and I’ve seen them put forth lively, nuanced performances in the past, but this script doesn’t do them a lot of favors.
Right now they seem a bit bland and interchangeable. Kelly (Kinney) is the slightly cockier rescue squad guy with the potential drug problem and Matt (Spencer) is the one with the tenuous relationship with his ex-fiancé.
There were some bright spots though. There was a fun bit of color when the guys used their radios to get a play by play of their Chief, Boden (a commanding Eamonn Walker) boxing with the police officer his wife left him for at the Battle of the Badges.
It was also nice to see David Eigenberg (Sex and the City) as firehouse vet Chris Herrman. He only had a few scenes, but he made them really stand out. I hope he gets to do more. I also liked Monica Raymund (The Good Wife, Lie to Me) as the capable and effective medic Gabriella.
Overall, I’d give the premiere a B-. I’ll try a few more episodes to see if it picks up, since I’ve enjoyed much of the cast’s work in the past.