“CHICAGO JUSTICE” THE WOLF TOUCH; COMEDIC “HISTORY” ON TV
A TV Review by Tim Riley
TV CORNER – “CHICAGO JUSTICE” ON NBC NETWORK Given his strong pedigree with the ubiquitous “Law & Order” television programs, it was only a matter of time before creator Dick Wolf rolled out a courtroom drama to complement his ongoing “Chicago” franchise. The crossover appeal for established series “Chicago P.D.,” “Chicago Med,” and “Chicago Fire” has already been exploited by the NBC Network. The question for developing the new series “Chicago Justice” was not why but when. Of the existing three programs, the most logical connection for “Chicago Justice” is to tap into the complicated legal issues that often arise when law enforcement collides with heated city politics in “Chicago P.D.”
At the center of the high stakes legal wrangling and frenzy of media coverage in “Chicago Justice” is the ambitious prosecutor in the office of the State’s Attorney, Deputy Chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau Peter Stone (Philip Winchester), square-jawed defender of justice. Winchester’s Peter Stone has the look and temperament of a relentless prosecutor totally committed to the pursuit of justice. The interesting angle is that Peter is the son of New York City District Attorney Ben Stone, a primary character from “Law & Order” who is not seen here but has a presence that is unnerving to Peter. An even greater challenge to Peter Stone than a complicated relationship with his father is the direct conflict with Mark Jefferies (Carl Weathers), the Cook County State’s Attorney who sees the world through a political prism. The most direct link to “Chicago P.D.” is provided courtesy of Jon Seda’s Antonio Dawson, formerly a detective in the intelligence unit headed up by Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe), who’s now the chief investigator for the State’s Attorney and partnered with Joelle Carter’s Laura Nagel.
An early episode touches upon the sensitive subject of potential police misconduct when Antonio has to investigate a former colleague, detective Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins), on charges that a suspect died in his custody either by negligence or design. Justice, so to speak, may be best served in “Chicago Justice” by resolving the moral dilemmas that are wrestled with vigor by the diverse characters in Stone’s unit. Not to be overlooked is the passionate Assistant State’s Attorney Anna Valdez (Monica Barbaro). ASA Valdez is more flexible and willing to bend the rules to get the right result. Investigator Antonio Dawson appears to be in the same camp. They don’t seem to care much about the optics and public relations efforts put forth by their boss Mark Jefferies. The wait has been long for Dick Wolf to bring a lawyer show to the “Chicago” universe, and so it would do well to give “Chicago Justice” a close look, particularly if you have tuned in for any of other NBC shows.
TV CORNER – “MAKING HISTORY” ON FOX NETWORK
There is nothing new about time travel and just about every network has been getting in on the act, from NBC’s “Timeless” to the new ABC series “Time After Time” that follows the adventures of science-fiction writer H.G. Wells as he pursues Jack the Ripper to modern times. For whatever reasons, time travel has almost always been a topic for dramatic inspiration, and not so much for laughs unless you go back to “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” where two dumb teens time travel to seek help to pass a history class. The dim-witted quotient for FOX’s new comedy series “Making History” rests with the facilities manager at a small college in Lexington, Massachusetts, a fitting location for one to engage in time travel back to the Revolutionary Era in American history.
Socially awkward, Dan the maintenance man (Adam Pally) has discovered that he can transport himself back to 1775 in a large duffel bag left behind by his father. Arriving in colonial times with only limited knowledge of history, Dan impresses the locals by quoting movies and songs. This approach is most effective as he woos Deborah (Leighton Meester), the daughter of Paul Revere, by reciting lines to her from “My Heart Will Go On” as if they were poetic musings of his own origin.The trouble with his meddling in colonial life is that Revere delays his famous ride and the course of history could be altered to such dramatic effect that the American Revolution never occurs and we’ll still be drinking afternoon tea and paying taxes to the Crown.To make up for his inadvertent interference with destiny, Dan enlists the reluctant help of history professor Chris (Yassir Lester), an erudite African-American, to make things right with colonialists like John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Time travel turns into a two-way street as Deborah, a budding feminist eager to do more than her father’s laundry, joins Dan and Chris for a trip back to the 21st Century where she’s eager to become the proprietor of an ice cream shop. No one should mistake this new FOX series for a completely accurate depiction of history, but in the early goings “Making History” offers a modicum of humor that could sustain viewer interest in the broader picture.