Friday, March 10, 2017

Pilot Review: Chicago Justice

Chicago Justice (NBC)
Premiered March 1 at 10pm

There was a time that I started watching “Law and Order” because the writers’ strike was in full swing, but I didn’t stick with it that long. That’s about the only experience I’ve had with Dick Wolf shows, other than a few specific Emmy-nominated episodes here and there and the pilots that he’s produced over the past few years. I’m fully aware that this pilot actually aired as the third part and culmination of a three-show crossover, but I don’t feel that I need to watch three hours of television that I never plan on watching again to judge how one new series is. Obviously, starting in media res meant that I had to put a few pieces together on my own, but I think I got the gist. On shows like this, how interesting and involving each case is varies week to week, and my immediate go-to is to see what actors I recognize as a way of latching on and, more commonly, lamenting the fact that they’re trapped in a lackluster procedural role for the foreseeable future since this empire is likely to never be toppled and this show and its two companions could easily run for decades. I knew that I had seen star Philip Winchester somewhere, and it seems like he’s been on a few short-lived shows, including “Crusoe” and “The Player.” I immediately recognized Joelle Carter from her great work on “Justified,” and she fits the previously-mentioned bill of not being used to her full potential here. One episode was more than enough for me – I’ll sure plenty of procedural-lovers will eat this up for years to come.

How will it work as a series? It’s building off the other two Chicago-set series, “Chicago PD” and “Chicago Fire,” but returning to more of the legal side of “Law and Order” which was always popular. This is the definition of a procedural drama, but it’s also a format that’s been proven to work specifically by Dick Wolf, whose original series lasted twenty seasons and whose “SVU” spinoff is still going strong, now in its eighteenth season.
How long will it last? This show didn’t earn the best reviews, but that’s not really a problem, since its ratings both in its debut airing as the third part of its epic crossover and two subsequent episodes since have been good. NBC doesn’t need to look for new fare to fill its schedule if this dependable drama is able to do just fine. This show will live long.

Pilot grade: C+

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