Written by Allison Lips
Wednesday night, Chicago P.D. premiered with a solid, yet unoriginal episode. While it isn’t the Law and Order: SVU clone that I was expecting, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen a show like this before.
The premiere episode, “Stepping Stone,” began with Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) kicking a criminal’s ass and telling him to get out of town. The next scene revealed that Sergeant Voight is a dirty cop, who recently got of jail, and now heads District 21’s intelligence unit. He’s a loose canon. As a character, Sergeant Voight is what happens when Dick York wonders what would happen if Detective Goren from Law & Order: Criminal Intent didn’t always try to stay on the right side of the law. It’s an interesting concept that could be done well, but Sergeant Voight comes off as a caricature with too much power. He’s a man who loves the phrase “making heads roll.”
It’s an unfortunate figure of speech that was taken quite literally in Chicago P.D.’s first episode because District 21 deals with the drug cartel leader El Pulpo, who beheads his victims. During their first raid of one of El Pulpo’s hideouts, Sergeant Voight and his crew find the son of El Pulpo’s victims in the closet. Throughout, the episode Sergeant Voight takes the kid under his wing and wants to provide him with a way out of the life he currently lives. The kid takes it and provides Voight with some information that helps him find El Pulpo. His willingness to help people stuck in bad situations that other people got them into is the only redeeming quality about Sergeant Voight.
Chicago P.D. could have been one of the better police procedurals, but the main plot is more compelling than the characters. With the exception of Detective Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda), whose son is kidnapped, the rest of the characters are either unlikeable or forgettable. It doesn’t help that Sergeants Voight’s pissing match with Violent Crimes ends with the intelligence unit’s Jules’ murder because the two departments refuse to share information. There was also a third plot that couldn’t be easily followed because it was jumbled and wasn’t relevant to this particular episode.
If Chicago P.D. had premiered 8 years ago, it would have fit nicely into the television landscape, but in a post Breaking Bad and Dexter era, viewers want more than just another run of the mill police procedural. Unless you’re really bored and are too lazy to put on Netflix, you probably should wait for Chicago P.D.’s characters and plot to develop because as of the first episode, the show only succeeds in showing that TV cops stop being interesting after the two hundredth time.