Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Warming Up with Chicago Fire

Television’s winter premiere season is officially here!  With all of the new TV programs airing these next few weeks, Amber West and I have a ton of homework to do.  But before diving in, we’ve decided to revisit one of our still simmering reviews (SSTV) from last year.  You know… the television programs we weren’t exactly sure how to rate after watching the first few episodes.

My selection—NBC’s Chicago Fire.  Will it move up the ladder after watching more episodes?  Or fall down?

There’s just something about firefighters… they’re sexy, courageous, generous, and did I mention sexy?  But seriously, can you imagine the pressure our firefighters are under on a daily basis?  Saving lives; risking their lives; protecting everyone, including one another, at all costs; living with some of the highest levels of stress imaginable—they really are heroes.

Created by Dick Wolf (creator of all the Law & Order series), Chicago Fire follows a group of firefighters and paramedics as they serve Chicago and work to maintain and balance their personal lives.  And, as if the job isn’t tough enough, the new drama starts off with these brave men and women losing one of their own.

Now, we all know that every fire starts with an ignition source; and with Chicago Fire, that source would be the sexiness.  Just look at this cast: Jesse Spencer (House) as Lt. Matthew Casey; Taylor Kinney (The Vampire Diaries) as Lt. Kelly Severide;  Eamonn Walker (Oz) as Chief Wallace Boden; Charlie Barnett (Men in Black 3) as Firefighter Peter Mills; and Lauren German (Happy Town and Hawaii Five-0) as Paramedic Leslie Shay.  The series also stars David Eigenberg (Sex and the City) as Firefighter Christopher Herrmann and a few ladies I’m not familiar with (Monica Raymund and Teri Reeves).  Plus, for those Fairly Legal fans (may the show rest in peace), Sarah Shahi has recently joined the cast…

But, is all of this eye candy enough to keep us coming back for more?

Hello, Shirtless Jesse Spencer…

If this new series is anything, it is dramatic.  We watch the firefighters and paramedics deal with addiction, guilt, blame, stress, heartbreak, and injuries.  Every week, the brave men and women rush out to all sorts of emergencies—fires, wrecks, and other life-threatening situations.  By definition, this makes Chicago Fire a procedural drama.  However, the series also has ongoing storylines from week to week, making it a serial as well.  And don’t worry; it’s really not all that difficult to pick right back up where we left off if we do indeed miss an episode—I tested this theory.

I chatted with a volunteer firefighter about NBC’s new program, and let’s just say he’s not so thrilled with the end result.  He mentioned that the cast and crew spent months following an actual Fire Department (if I remember correctly, I think he even said a Chicago Fire Department), and from what he could tell, the creators took certain liberties with how real firefighters do their job.  Sadly, he said firefighters never undress and strip down to a bare chest in the street after battling a fire.  I say sadly because I know many of us women wouldn’t mind seeing this happen, and thankfully the creators give us this tiny gift on the television screen.

Hello, Taylor Kinney’s Abs…

Heehee.  Sorry, back to being serious…

My fire fighting friend also stated that paramedics never ask anyone involved in a horrible crash to turn their necks, especially not a small child.  He added that the fireman do not use their radio system to talk trash or do anything else that’s unprofessional over the air waves.  All of this may not be true of every single fire house in the world, but these were his thoughts on the program, and he wished the writers would make it a bit more realistic while still making it interesting for the television audience.

I also visited with a good friend of mine, who just happens to be the wife of a former firefighter.  She and her husband watch Chicago Fire together, and while he does agree that not everything is completely protocol on the show, he believes most of it to be surprisingly accurate.  As one very familiar with these types of situations, he was impressed to see the series take the time to explain how the Chief “reads” the smoke and predicts what the fire is doing prior to sending in his team.  He also feels the dynamics between the firefighters with one another, with their families, and with the hospital staffs are represented fairly well.

Chicago Fire’s firefighters and paramedics work together to save lives…

All of this said, I realize Chicago Fire is a fictional television program.  In my first review, I had watched all four episodes to date and was still uncertain as to how I felt.  Taking into consideration that I do like Dick Wolf AND a few of the actors, particularly Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney, and Lauren German, I decided to give it another shot.  I applaud the fresh idea of a series with firefighters and paramedics when most of today’s TV centers around police procedurals, the supernatural, and sitcoms.

So, has Chicago Fire moved up or down the Why It’s Worth a Watch ladder?  Up.  It’s still not something I watch religiously, but I do catch an episode when I can.  Therefore, I’m awarding the JFTV rating.  The freshman series isn’t perfect, but like that greasy bag of potato chips in the cupboard, I’ll go back for more if it’s there and my healthy box of granola and almonds is all gone.

What do you think?  Have you watched Chicago Fire?  Have you seen anything in the series and asked, “Would that really happen in real life?”  If so, do the writers’ liberties bother you enough to stop watching?   I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s new & improved blog and see which of her SSTV reviews she revisits…  I’ll give you one hint:  there’s singing involved!

Come back next week when Amber and I review something…  Stay tuned!

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

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