For seven seasons on his FX drama “The Shield,” creator Shawn Ryan depicted crooked, rule-breaking police officers in the Los Angeles Police Department that, not surprisingly, the real LAPD wanted nothing do with.
With his new Fox series “The Chicago Code,” Ryan is again telling stories of corruption, but this time he has the backing of the city and law enforcement. The result, perhaps also not surprisingly, couldn’t be more different.
“We have our scripts vetted by a current homicide detective in the Chicago police department, who was raised there,” Ryan said in a recent conference call with reporters.
“So my view on these police officers tends to be in a more heroic light, tends to be more sympathetic to the challenges that they go through. It’s just a different show,” he said.
The series is about the department’s first female superintendent (like a chief) of police, Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals) and her former partner Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke), whom she tabs to lead an off-the-books investigation into city corruption, specifically Alderman Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo).
“Code” filmed on location in Chicago and used primarily guest actors from the area, Ryan said. Shooting on the first season has wrapped.
“I’m a big believer in embedding yourself in a certain place and taking advantage of the distinctions of that place,” Ryan said.
Having the city on board allowed for some cool storytelling devices.
For Monday’s episode involving a bank robbery, they got to play with city trains. Detective Wysocki and his young new partner Caleb Evers (Matt Lauria) chase the robber from the street to the El platform, onto the train, through the cars and back into the street, in a sequence that wouldn’t have been possible without the real thing.
“We were invited in by that city in a pretty spectacular way,” Ryan said.
Ryan grew up in nearby Rockford, and his father still lives in the area and was able to visit the set, another perk of filming on-location.
Ryan was interested in depicting the alderman and ward system in Chicago. Although Ryan’s uncle was an alderman, his fictional Alderman Gibbons is the series’ bad guy. Early episodes suggest he is involved in bid-rigging and is wrapped up with the Irish mob. He backed Superintendent Colvin for the job and is irked that she hasn’t turned out to be his puppet.
“This next episode really kind of shows the dark side of him and yet going forward, hopefully we’re going to show a more balanced side of him that makes him a more interesting villain, I think,” Ryan said.
Unlike “The Shield,” “The Chicago Code” has more stand-alone episodes. This Monday’s bank robbery is resolved within the hour, but the episode also the “jumping off point” for the story of the three main characters.
Plus, trains are involved.
Ryan is hoping viewers decide to take the ride.
“The Chicago Code” airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on Fox.
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