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'Chicago Fire' could learn from 'Ladder 49'

Chicago Fire” may be a television show but it can learn a lot from similar themed movies such as “Ladder 49” (2004). “Chicago Fire” was created by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas and is produced by Dick Wolf. It began in 2012 and it will start its third season in September. “Ladder 49” stars Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta. Both are about the hectic and at times dangerous lives of firefighters.

“Fire” has a lot of things going for it. The cast is likeable and filled with familiar faces such as “House, M.D.’s” Jesse Spencer as Lieutenant Casey and Eamonn Walker as Battalion Chief Wallace Boden. Furthermore, the writers are able to aptly create suspense and action sequences much like those in “Ladder 49”. However, what is frustrating about “Chicago Fire” is that it has the potential to be a much better show than it currently is. Below are some suggestions for the upcoming season.

  • Spread the love

“Chicago Fire” is an ensemble drama. As mentioned, the cast works well together and it is difficult not to like each and every one of the characters. Despite this fact, the writers insist on making the show mainly about Monica Raymund’s Gabriela Dawson. Dawson is a budding firefighter who started the show as one of the two paramedics. Everything somehow connects to Dawson no matter how mundane or unlikely. Raymund’s not a bad actress but it would be great for the other characters to get as much screen time as she does week to week.

  • Give Casey something to do

Fans of “House” may have flocked to “Chicago Fire” in order to see Spencer as the lead on a new show. They were probably disappointed to find that he’s not given much to do on “Chicago Fire”. Any possible interesting storyline he may get (We'll get to that in the next bullet point) is quickly resolved and lately he’s just been propping up Dawson as her boyfriend. Casey’s a complicated and very different type of leading man from what’s on television right now. It would be great to see more complex story lines for him.

  • Make story lines stick

As mentioned, not many storylines actually stick on “Chicago Fire”. Casey had a intricate storyline involving his mother being released from jail that went nowhere. Then he was asked to look after the children of a friend of his while their mother too was in jail. That storyline wrapped up quickly. Then he had an injury on the job that for some reason is repeatedly mentioned but with no foreseeable resolution. It’s not just Casey who faces these drive-by-storylines but other characters as well. Loveable Leslie Shay (Lauren German), one of the other paramedics, wanted desperately to get pregnant with her best friend, another firefighter named Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) but that storyline was also randomly dropped. Comic relief Brian "Otis" Zvonecek (Yuri Sardarov) dated Severide’s sister for a time, were wonderful together, but she was victimized, then shipped off screen for reasons unknown. It doesn’t make sense why all the interesting storylines are quickly resolved or never mentioned again while anything involving Dawson is dragged on forever.

  • Enough with the cliffhangers that lead to nowhere

Lastly, “Chicago Fire” is a predictable show because the writers constantly introduce cliffhangers for shock value and then either drop the storyline by the next episode or jump ahead in time. It’s become redundant, and if they keep doing it, it will be only the wonderful characters and actors that will keep viewers tuned in each week.

“Ladder 49” has a surprising ending that comes together after careful plotting. The writers of “Chicago Fire” should take note of other similarly themed movies and television shows which would help make a decent show a great one.

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