New Dog, New Tricks

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If you have a dog, or you’re into dogs, you probably know that some breeds are smarter, more complicated, and frequently more difficult than others. If you’ve ever had a terrier, you know they can be a lot of work. Exhausting, even. Stubborn and willful, they’ll match wits with you on a daily basis.  When you own a terrier, every now and then you think how nice it would be to come home to a big, dumb dog who’s really easy to figure out. Where what you see is what you get. (At the end of the day, I’m delighted to have a terrier, but that’s beside the point. I also have not-so-smart-dogs that are equally lovable).

TV shows are like dog breeds. And some of the new midseason ones inspire comparisons in my mind, because a few are just plain good-looking and pleasant, but not challenging at all, while others are intricate and tricky to follow and therefore the viewer has to do a little work. There are big, dopey handsome shows that are light as air, and there are terrier-type shows that require perseverance. The late FX series Damages is a perfect example of a great terrier show. It’s complicated and frustrating, and yet totally worth it when the credits roll.  Harry’s Law is like one of those scruffy rescues that slowly wins you over with its fundamental decency. Perfect Couples has a very nice looking cast, but I’ve yet to meet a dog that devoid of personality or purpose. Fairly Legal – the new series on USA, is like one of those Italian Greyhounds: delicate, not too substantial, but breezy and fun to have around. (Nor do I mean to confuse anyone with the recently- cancelled show actually titled Terriers. Which may very well have been a terrific show – I never saw it; many feel it met an untimely death).

Fox’s newbie The  Chicago Code is a terrier. It’s slick, fast, agile, tough and not always easy to understand. But because of that fact, it’s extremely rewarding.  I just watched the pilot and I am completely intrigued. Jennifer Beals stars as the Superintendent of Police in Chicago, and Jason Clarke (from Public Enemies) is her partner/foil detective. Together they’re trying to take down some of Chicago’s most brutal criminals. Delroy Lindo stars as a very corrupt boss in city government, and the whole show is twisty and turn-y and you just know that they’ll be digging deeper into the depths of crime as the season progresses. It’s a really intelligent show, from the guy who brought us The Shield, but you do need to pay attention. At points I found that I was exhausted trying to follow everything, but in the end I felt satisfied and very curious (rather than some shows which are so mystifying that you never want to revisit them. Ever.) I think this show will bloom into something very cool indeed, although it does enter an already crowded field of cop shows. Still, the leads are fiercely talented and they’re devoting an entire season to busting the baddies we already know – so the cat-and-mouse thing over several months is probably going to get good. If you haven’t watched it, I say give it a whirl because The Chicago Code is a savvy new show that makes us think. Which doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Today’s poll:

Actress Jennifer Beals stars in TV’s The Chicago Code. Which of Beals’ other roles is your favorite?

1) The Book of Eli

2) Flashdance

3) The L Word

4) Lie To Me

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