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Sunday, March 5, 2017

PILOT REVIEW: Chicago Justice


Starring: Philip Winchester, Jon Seda, Joelle Carter, Monica Barbaro, and Carl Weathers

Created by Dick Wolf
Developed by Derek Haas, Michael Brandt, and Matt Olmstead
Written by William N. Fordes, Directed by Norberto Barba

The Chicago empire has gotten ever bigger with the arrival of NBC's fourth show in the franchise, Chicago Justice, set in the legal world. This edition follows the State Attorney's office, led by State's Attorney Mark Jefferies (Carl Weathers) and Assistant State's Attorney (Philip Winchester). Their team includes Chicago PD veteran Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda), Laura Nagel (Joelle Carter), and Anna Valdez (Monica Barbaro).

I'll start by admitting that I am a fan of the Chicago franchise. I know it has its detractors and I get why, but I enjoy them. I actually think Chicago Fire is better than it gets credit for because the characters are enjoyable. Chicago PD and Chicago Med are pretty formulaic but I still enjoy them. I watched the first two episodes of Chicago Justice, but am mainly reviewing the second episode because the pilot was the third part of a crossover event that didn't really give us a glimpse into what Chicago Justice will look like as a show that has to stand on its own.

I'm starting to wondering if we've officially crossed the line of too much Chicago. I wanted to really like Chicago Justice. After all, I'm inherently more interested in a legal show than a medical or fire show. But I just feel like each new Chicago show has gotten more formulaic and this was basically an episode of Law & Order except without the well known characters. Not that Chicago Justice couldn't get there, but this felt particularly procedural-y. Fire actually delves into the personal lives of the characters quite often. PD does a little bit. Med and Justice really don't at all (or at least Justice didn't in the pilot). That makes the characters here seem like stock characters. They're fine and the acting is fine but there's very little connection made.

I thought perhaps the case of the week was dull, but it was a hot button issue that could have been compelling. I just wish the other Chicago shows blended serial narratives and cases of the week as well as Chicago Fire does. But Justice, at first glance, seems to do it the least. We know Jon Seda has some interesting character elements and I liked Philip Winchester in the courtroom but I think we needed to at least introduce a personal storyline or two. Or maybe they just feel like they're not going to have time with the case of the week. I hope that's not the case or else this Chicago show may just be piling on instead of a worthwhile timeslot occupant.

Yes. I will give it a little bit of time. I watch Chicago Fire every week, usually watch Med, and sometimes watch PD. What's one more?

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