Last year, viewers not only met the members of Firehouse 51 and watched as they handled some pretty harrowing situations, we were also privy to the details of many of their personal issues.
All of that intermingling of personal and professional lives was by design, explains Danielle Gelber, Executive Producer of the show, “We want people to be invested in these characters and we learned that the audience will stick around if they’re interested in the characters.” She goes on to say that while last year the ground work was laid, this year, “We’re doing more of that but we’ll be taking advantage of the fact that now the audience knows this characters, so we can move a little quicker in the storytelling.”
Not to worry if you’re new to series and just jumping onboard as Tuesday’s episode will open with an extended recap that brings viewers up to speed on where we left off in each character’s journey.
True to Gelber’s statement, the opening installment of season two moves at a very brisk pace. Entitled “A Problem House,” the episode features a consultant shutting down a neighboring firehouse and declaring to Chief Boden that his house is on the chopping block as well.
This leads to the addition of two new firefighters at Firehouse 51. “They bring a lot of baggage and secrets with them,” says Gelber. “Their presence causes a lot of emotional gymnastics.” And, in a slight bit of scoop, she let out that, “Someone new in the firehouse is definitely not who they seem.”
Gelber won’t give much more detail, explaining that, “We really want the audience to enjoy how things unfold so the writers and producers are very careful not to give too much away. Yes, we like to tease things, but we don’t come right out and say specifics because that would certainly take away any element of surprise.”
Sticking to that guideline, having seen the season opener, I’ll only say that it’s incredibly satisfying in advancing every character’s storyline. There’s romance, mystery, intrigue, plenty of action, and even a bit of humor. Every one of these elements nicely lays the threads for what looks to be intricately plotted episodes that will continue throughout the season. And, the final few minutes of the opener contain a twist that I certainly didn’t see coming and that left me wanting more; exactly what every viewer wants in a drama series.
Coming up this season, Gelber reveals that actress Mena Suvari will be joining the show for a long term arc. “One of the other things we did last year was to create mini-arcs by bringing in a character that had an effect on the core characters and they made an emotional statement before leaving,” she discloses. “With that in mind, we also love to bring back characters when viewers least expect it, and that is certainly going to happen this season. In fact, someone you didn’t expect to return will come back in a very shocking way.”
Using a social media platform to connect with fans, Gelber told me that the entire cast will be live tweeting during the season opener. “Tweeting is a big event for us,” admits Gelber. “It’s very exciting for us to be interacting with our fans on that immediate level. It’s called ‘social media’ because a society is created around a common interest. We really enjoy hearing how our fans are reacting to the things that they’re seeing on the show.”
But don’t ask send a tweet asking for anything more precise about what’s to come on the show. “I’ve given all I can give up right now,” said Gelber with a bit of a laugh. “The people on the creative team would kill me if I gave anything else away.”
Never fear, all will be revealed when “Chicago Fire” returns this week.
"Chicago Fire" airs Tuesday nights at 10e/p on NBC.