Talking ONE CHICAGO at TCAs
Television shows sometimes impact viewers so much that they touch their hearts and change their lives. I’ve written here at mytakeontv before about what a powerful tool TV can be. This year’s Winter TCA’s gave NBC a chance to show off some of its more noble shows. And three of them – Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Med come from Executive Producer Dick Wolf. Wolf joined Colin Donnell (Chicago Med), S. Epatha Merkerson (Chicago Med), Monica Raymund (Chicago Fire), and Marina Squerciati (Chicago P.D.) for a panel discussion at this year’s Winter TCAs and though it’s a few months out from that discussion, here are some highlights as new episodes of the shows air this Spring!
What particular charisma does the city of Chicago have that can sustain three network series set in that city?
DICK WOLF: Whatever way you want to describe it, it’s the city of big shoulders. It’s the heart of America. These three shows exhibit so much in the way of values. I’m kind of unabashedly probably old‑fashioned about this. These are heroes. You can’t pay people to run into burning buildings. You can’t pay doctors anymore. They are not in it for the money anymore, either. These are people who every day in police departments, not only in Chicago but all over the country, go out. They don’t know if they are coming home at night. I don’t think there is any way that you can overuse a city that exemplifies the best and at times the worst of America. It’s an incredible canvas.
For the casts of each show, if you had an opportunity to do ride-alongs for your respective shows, what insight did you get from them, specifically in Chicago?
S. EPATHA MERKERSON: I think the most important thing that happened for me, the most incredible evening I’ve ever spent in my life, was at Cook County Hospital in the trauma center on a Friday night. I will never be the same, and that would have only happened doing this show.
COLIN DONNELL: We had our first experience of sitting in on a surgery, observing, of course.
S. EPATHA MERKERSON: Yeah, for an hour and a half.
COLIN DONNELL: For an hour and a half, just getting as close as we could and being encouraged to do so by the people that were there – because they wanted us to see what was going on. It’s amazing. In the same way that you work within a family of a cast, these people take that and take it to a whole new level. They are with each other literally saving somebody’s life and doing incredible things that I, myself, don’t even dream of doing, and to witness that firsthand, it takes a respect that you already have and just blows it out the roof.
How do you cope with the cold weather in Chicago while you’re shooting exteriors?
MARINA SQUERCIATI: I will say that it does require me, at least, as an actor, to sort of double down on that day’s scene because every synapse freezes. Every artistic notion freezes, and you’re just kind of going on instinct. So I like to know those lines just a little bit better so I can focus a little less on the cold.
MONICA RAYMUND: It’s worth it, though, because then when you have a huge wide crane shot of a funeral and all of us up there, and the snow is falling, and we may be up there shivering, but it’s worth it because we’re giving a little ‑‑ tipping our hat to what those guys have to do. They have to be there. When there’s a fire or if there’s a crash that happens, they have to be there to extract the victims. So we can complain all we want, but we’re just playing it on TV.
Any final remarks?
DICK WOLF: I’d like to add that I am very happy with what I’m doing. I would just like to be able to continue these shows to the level that the Law and Order shows got to. It’s an interesting statistic, which is a credit to everybody who has been on these shows. But Law and Order is tied with Gunsmoke at 20 years for the longest scripted run. The #2 or #3 show, depending on how you count it, strangely enough, is Lassie. The #4 show is Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU) which is doing phenomenally well. I hope it will be back for another round of years. Nobody’s getting tired of doing it.
Chicago Med airs Tuesdays at 9:00 P.M.; Chicago Fire, Tuesdays at 10 P.M.; and Chicago P.D., Wednesdays at 10 P.M., all on NBC.