Hank Stuever
Hank Stuever

‘Chicago Fire’: A non-emergency

“Chicago Fire” (Wednesday at 10 p.m., NBC)

“Wow. This is bad, bad, bad,” says one of “Chicago Fire’s” firefighters as Engine 81’s trucks pull up to a fully involved tenement blaze.

Hank Stuever

Hank Stuever is The Washington Post’s TV critic and author of two books, “Tinsel” and “Off Ramp.”


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Oh, it’s not that bad. NBC’s latest drama, executive-produced by Dick “Law and Order” Wolf, is about the brave men and women who save urban dwellers from infernos, car wrecks and other constant occurrences of mayhem. It follows the “E.R.” and “Third Watch” genre to the letter. The result is a fairly taut pilot episode that establishes the characters who work at a firehouse, which is recovering emotionally from the loss of a colleague while battling a fire a month earlier.

The guys in the “truck,” led by Lt. Matthew Casey ­(Jesse Spencer), blame the death on the paramedic squad, led by Lt. Kelly Serveride (Taylor Kinney), and vice versa. The two men hiss threats and glower at each other a lot.

Really what they should all be more concerned about is the dearth of watchable leads in this cast. Everyone here, including “Oz’s” Eamonn Walker as the battalion chief, is working from the same medium-grim setting, with medium-grim dialogue, which quickly drags the story and action into the still-smoldering ruins of other fire-and-rescue dramas.

Grade: C+

— Hank Stuever

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    Notable nonfiction of 2013