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

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Is Chicago Fire Red Hot?

Fall Television is officially here!  With all of the new TV programs airing this fall, Amber West and I have a ton of homework to do…  This week, we decided to break the mold and do something we’ve never done before—review the same show!  Will Amber and I agree or disagree after watching NBC’s Chicago Fire?

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), it has been announced that Sarah Shahi will join the cast in the upcoming episodes…

Hello, Shirtless Jesse Spencer!

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

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.  Being that we’re only one month in, I’m not certain how difficult it will be to follow the series if missing an episode… but, I don’t think it will be all that hard to pick right back up where we left off if we do indeed skip a week.

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.

All of this said, I realize Chicago Fire is a fictional television program.  I did not let any of the inconsistencies with what firefighters and paramedics actually do sway me away from watching.  But, having watched all four episodes to date, I’m still uncertain of how I feel.  I like Dick Wolf.  I like a few of the actors, particularly Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney, and Lauren German.  I like the fresh idea of a series with firefighters and paramedics when most of today’s TV centers around police procedurals, the supernatural, and sitcoms.  But, can I award the drama with anything other than the SSTV rating at this time?  No.  I can’t.  And, if anyone wants to “make” me, I’d downgrade it at this very moment to an NIV rating… and I don’t want to do that—not yet anyway.

I was really looking forward to Chicago Fire and I’m not giving up yet…

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

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 what she thinks about the new NBC fire drama.  Did we agree or disagree?  Trust me; we usually have very different tastes when it comes to our favorite television shows…

Come back next week when Amber and I review something… we’re thinking about changing things up again and trying something else that we’ve never done before.  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

Tele-Tuesday: Why Common Law Deserves a Renewal

Everyone is familiar with the term opposites attract.  Heck, many of us even remember Paula Abdul’s hit song from the late ‘80s, early ‘90s.  Usually, people think of romantic couples when hearing the phrase… but television has taken it to an entirely different level, especially when creating cohesive and lovable partnerships—detective pairings to be specific.

These duos usually have different backgrounds: familiar, economic, social, racial, educational, etcetera.  But more often than not, these partners make for some of the best in the field.  One of the first pairs that comes to mind is Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs (Miami Vice).  Another is Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey (Cagney & Lacey).  And a more recent example would have to be Peter Burns and Neal Caffrey (White Collar).

There is nothing ground-breaking about these types of pairings on television, which is why when a new police procedural airs, the characters need another sort of twist to make it stand out among all the others.

Common Law does just that.  The USA series follows two Los Angeles robbery/homicide detectives with an immense love for the job—a job they’re good at—great at, actually—they just don’t like each other very much.  And when one partner draws his gun on the other, the police captain insists the two attend relationship counseling, or couples therapy to use a term we’re familiar with today.

Let’s start with Travis (Michael Ealy).  Travis was raised in the foster care system and has many mothers and brothers around the L.A. area.  He is a bit of a womanizer—he loves women and they love him—but he shies away from dating any one woman for more than, well, a night.  Perhaps this has something to do with his unstable childhood, but for whatever reason, it works for him… for now.

Next, we have Wes (Warren Kole).  The series hasn’t shared much about his childhood, but one can assume he hails from a wealthy enough family.  Before joining the LAPD, Wes worked as a lawyer and was married to another lawyer.  But when he quit to become a policeman, he lost more than his job—his wife left him too.  He hasn’t really dipped his toes back into the dating waters, but he’s taking baby steps toward the pool.

Travis and Wes bring these differences to their partnership, but only one thing matters—they are the best at what they do.  They bicker; they fight; and then they bicker and fight some more.  But when on a case, they rock it.

This scenario isn’t very fresh, is it?  No—but this is where the couples therapy comes in.  Travis and Wes do NOT want to attend therapy, but they don’t have a choice.  They’re joined by three heterosexual married couples and led by Dr. Ryan (Sonya Walger).  The therapy sessions really are great, and each episode’s opening quote always ties into the detectives’ lessons for the week.

For example, “Responsibility is the price of greatness.” ~Winston Churchill

Of course, Travis and Wes feel the group’s conversations don’t apply to them because they aren’t in a romantic relationship with one another; yet every single session relates directly to what the duo is experiencing, including: discussions about respecting each other’s personal property, or more specifically, Wes’ stapler and Travis’ inability to return it; co-parenting, or more specifically, working out a shared-custody arrangement of another policeman’s dog; and dealing with the in-laws, or more specifically, managing time between former, divisional bosses joining the current investigation.

“This session just took a detour to crazy town.” ~ Wes

The freshman series was very enjoyable for the most part, but the series finale sealed the deal for me.  After watching the last episode of the first season, I immediately hopped online to see if it had been picked up.  I was saddened to see it had not… not yet anyway.

In the finale, viewers watched Travis and Wes share with Dr. Ryan the story as to how they met and how their partnership began.  But more importantly, we learned why the two were assigned to couples therapy in the first place—why Wes drew his gun on Travis.  And let me just say, FANTASTIC.  I loved the finale so very much.  Not just because it gave the entire season purpose, but because we saw honest-to-goodness character growth from both Travis and Wes.

And I applaud the writers.  I noticed the tiny attention to detail inside the evidence warehouse; I saw the baby masks that the thieves wore in an earlier episode.  Everything came full-circle, including what I now consider to be Travis’ and Wes’ signature take-down.

“I can see a storm front coming through… a cloudy, cloudy storm front.” ~Travis

Watch the video attached to this article for a better understanding of Storm Front.

This partnership has a future, but does Common law?  I sure hope so…

C’mon USA!  Just renew it already.  Friday night is a tough spot, and even I’m guilty of not watching it live.  But I do watch it.  And I love it.  Please bring it back.

Oh, and did I mention the eye candy?

Travis and his baby blues…

Not a great shot, but just imagine baby blue eyes… because they are!

Wes and his killer dimples…

Again, not a great shot, but it gives you an idea of how cute his dimples are…

And one more thing that makes me swoon…  Warren Kole’s voice—it’s very sexy, ladies!

What do you think?  Did you watch Common Law?  Have you ever been so-so on a series until one particular episode drew you in for-keeps?  I’d love to hear from you!

Friday FabOoolousness – I Need a Movie to Watch…

I had a different post planned for today, but I’m feeling a bit under the weather and decided to save it for another time.  Since all I can think about is curling up in my chair, drinking warm liquids, and watching movies, I thought I’d share some of the films that are on my radar and that I’d like to see.

Deciding which movies to watch may not be a factor, especially if I don’t start feeling a bit better and I stay in my chair all weekend.  But I thought that by sharing, perhaps everyone could help me prioritize which ones I need to move to the top of the list.

First up, the comedies… because we all know that I love to laugh.

Next, we have a few dramas… with a touch of action.

And, we have the action/adventure films with the added bonus of some eye candy…

with Ryan Reynolds…

With Justin Timberlake, Alex Pettyfer, and Matt Bomer…

With Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, and Michael Fassbender…

With Jesse Metcalfe…

And last but not least, we have one of my favorites… the psychological thrillers.

Have you seen any of these films?  Which one/s should I  move to the top of my viewing list?  Any I should stay away from completely?  Do you recommend any other movies?  I’d love to hear from you!

Friday FabOoolousness – Action Packed Movie Madness

Staying in, wrapping up in a blanket, lighting a candle, and watching a movie makes for a perfect weekend evening in our house.  Due to the recent closures of most Blockbuster and Hollywood Video Stores, we slide our credit card into the vending machines dubbed Redbox and rent the new releases for $1 per night. 

That’s right – $1 per night; that’s cheaper than racing to the theater for a hot new release or renting a movie via OnDemand.

So, what have we watched lately?  Two fabOoolous action-packed movies: X-Men First Class and Fast Five

*****

X-Men: First Class

The fourth movie in the franchise, X-men: First Class takes us back in time; this prequel shares the story of how Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) becomes Professor X and how Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) becomes Magneto

For those unfamiliar with the comics, the explanation of Charles and Erik’s friendship in First Class helps explain the first movies of the X-Men franchise.   Each and every one of the films is very enjoyable, but First Class really pulled us in. 

In addition to us learning about Professor X and Magneto’s early years, we meet the young and beautiful Raven, better known as Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).  The movie also introduces a few of the younger mutants from the comic books and the first three films: Beast (Nicholas Hoult), a mutant ashamed of his abnormally large feet who takes a self-made potion that transforms him into a gigantic blue beast; Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), a mutant with the ability to emit powerful supersonic sound waves; Darwin (Edi Gathegi), a mutant who transforms into any being to protect himself; and Havoc (Lucas Till), a mutant who absorbs energy and unleashes it in fire blasts to defend his friends. 

We also meet the evil Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and his Hellfire Club members (aka the bad guys):  Emma Frost (January Jones), a telepath who also has the ability to mutate into diamond form making it impossible to physically torture her; Azazel (Jason Flemyng), a mutant who resembles the devil and can teleport back and forth surprising his victims; Riptide (Alex Gonzalez), a mutant with the ability to transform into a powerful whirlwind of dust like a tornado, or water like a cyclone; and Angel (Zoe Kravitz), a mutant who possesses the ability to fly and spit an acid-like substance.

Of course, there are a few humans in the movie like CIA agent Moira MacTaggert, played by Rose Byrne.  She is the one responsible for bringing Xavier’s team of mutants together.  She is also the one who opens the door to the mutant world with the US government. 

Additionally, we see a few other familiar faces playing human roles including the fabOoolous Ray Wise, James Remar, and Michael Ironside.

A nice and appreciated addition to the movie was the cameo appearances by Rebecca Romjin (the adult Mystique) and Hugh Jackman.  We can’t have an X-Men movie without Wolverine, can we?

*****

Fast Five

We love high-speed racing and action in this house.  The Fast and The Furious starring Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner, the undercover police officer sent in to gather evidence to arrest the illegal street racing ring leader, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), gave us just that and absolutely rocked. 

Despite the lack of Diesel in 2 Fast 2 Furious, we maintained interest as Brian works undercover again, only this time with the FBI to take down a drug lord (Cole Hauser) in an effort to redeem himself after falling in with Dom’s crowd. 

However, after The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in 2006, we almost wrote off the franchise.  Why have a Fast and Furious movie without Walker and Diesel? 

Luckily in 2009, the series redeemed itself with Fast & Furious and brought back the franchise’s hotties, as well as other favorites including Leti Ortiz (Michelle Rodriquez) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster). 

Add Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as federal agent Luke Hobbs, and Fast Five officially has the best eye-candy of the entire series. 

Oh, and action…just not enough racing.  The scenes in which Dom and Brian acquire the necessary cars to take down the evil Brazilian crime lord Reyes were omitted; instead of showing us how they earn the pink slips to these vehicles, we just see the two return to their hideout with the cars.   Maybe these scenes were scrapped on the cutting room floor? 

But what did we really, really enjoy about Fast Five?  Not only did we see the return of all the original surviving characters (no spoilers), but a few of our favorites from the past also join forces to help Dom and Brian, including: Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce (from 2); Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker (also from 2); Matt Schulze as Vince (from 1); Sung Kang as Han Seoul-Oh (from 4); and for the men, Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar (also from 4).

Making up for the lost pink-slip racing mentioned before, the heists at the beginning and at the end are action packed and fabOoolous.  Viewers watch Brian, Dom, and Mia steal cars from a moving train, and later witness Dom and Brian’s synchronized driving sequence, which is unlike any other. 

Oh, and don’t turn off the video before the end of the credits….just sayin’.    Something is in the works.

Eye Candy....

*****

Overall, X-Men: First Class and Fast Five are both definitely worth a watch; definitely worth spending a $1 at Redbox.  The action, special effects, relationships, backstory (in First Class) and continuing story (from Fast Five) are even worthy of the more expensive video rental via OnDemand . 

What do you think – have you watched X-Men: First Class or Fast Five?  Which of the X-Men characters is your favorite and why?  What about the Fast and the Furious men (or women, let’s be fair)? 

Have you checked out Redbox yet?  Any other new releases we should rent?  I’d love to hear from you. 

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