Dear The Chicago Code,

I love you. More than I ever expected to. You came along at just the right time - when I needed something to get me excited about TV again after the season (series?) finale of Human Target - and you made me fall for you. Now I'm to the point where I know you're on tonight and I'm actually impatient for you to get here. More than I am for Chuck or Hawaii Five-O, despite my soft spot for Alex O'Loughlin. Why do I love you so much? Well, let me count the ways.

You know I love crime dramas. Always have, as far back as I can remember. And you? Are one smart, unapologetic crime drama. You remind me of my past love affairs with Homicide: Life on the Street and Third Watch, the way you're telling great stories every week but you're really about the people who are a part of those stories. (Between you and me, I'd take a great character over a twisty plot any day.) You're realistic, but you also don't push too far for the sake of being "gritty" or "in your face" or whatever turns of phrase are in vogue at the moment. There's no gimmick. There's no game. You just do the fundamental things right, and we don't see enough of that anymore.

You're the show I sit up and talk to my friends about every Monday night. And there are plenty of my friends who are watching you. Every time I mention how much I love you, somebody always seems to feel the same way, no matter where I am. Great TV shows are great, but they're even better when we can talk about them, bond over them, feel like we're a part of something. I have that with you.

And how perfectly cast are you? I'm having a hard time coming up with a better trio of lead actors in my head. I've actually thought this over, and I'm not sure there is one currently on the air. Maybe the three guys from Human Target, but I'm biased. If you'd asked me to cast this show I never would've picked the same names - I didn't even know two of them before this - but now I can't imagine anyone else playing these parts.

Jason Clarke is unbelievably brilliant. He has literally made my jaw drop. He's one of the most captivating actors I've ever seen in my life. You know I'm all about honesty, so I have to be honest and say I'm embarrassed that it has taken me this long to see him in something. I sincerely regret that I didn't watch Brotherhood when I said I was going to, because then I could've been enjoying his work a lot sooner. How does he do it? How does he, in just episodes, build a character worthy of all the superlatives we're told about him? How does he get me from not knowing Jarek Wysocki to caring about him so much that I want to slap him for bad judgment? He's deeper into his character now than many actors are in some seasons. He's chewing the scenery and making it look effortless. And now I think I might just spend the rest of my life regretting that I walked right by him and had no idea who I was talking to.

Then there's Jennifer Beals. If this doesn't finally free her from being referred to as the woman from Flashdance, I'll be stunned. I'd seen glimpses of her over the years but never really watched her work, and I'm impressed. The character of Teresa Colvin had every opportunity to become a stereotype, and she's never even come close. I love that while she is a woman in power, that's not what the emphasis is on. She's just a great character who happens to be a woman. Like with Jarek, I believe that Teresa has done all the things you tell me she has, because Beals has earned my respect. I love her sense of humor too. That scene in her office at the end of "The Gold Coin Kid" was priceless. (And trivia factoid: how neat is it that both she and Jason Clarke had shows airing on Showtime at the same time? Small world.)

And Matt Lauria. The first thing that comes to mind is how ridiculously adorable he is. He has a charm and boy-next-door appeal that makes me just want to hug him. If I ever met him, I probably would hug him, if he'd let me. But thankfully, that's just the start of what he brings to the table. Caleb Evers could easily be another clueless, fresh-faced newbie cop who has to be set straight. Yet he's got a brain and a spine of his own, and he's using both of them every week. He's a good cop on his own, not just in the shadow of his partner. It's got to be a hard thing to hold one's own against Jason Clarke every scene - I certainly couldn't do it - but Matt Lauria's got the acting chops to do so. Watching Caleb and Jarek's partnership develop is one of my favorite parts of the show, and that's because watching those two actors work is so much fun.

This is to say nothing of Delroy Lindo. What can I say about Delroy Lindo that hasn't already been said? I think the best compliment I can give him is that even though I hate even kind of liking a bad guy, he's made me understand Ronin Gibbons. I'm the last person who'd give any slack to a villain, and yet I'm in that guy's head and I don't mind at all.

Even the smaller roles are perfectly cast. I'm liking Devin Kelley and Todd Williams, and hoping we see more of Vonda and Isaac throughout the season. I've stopped referring to Billy Lush as "that guy who played the stoner in the series finale of Three Rivers" and totally believe him as an undercover cop in over his head. I even still miss Manny Montana as Antonio. These are characters I feel like I know and that I would spend my time with (okay, except for Gibbons). If I could, I'd send cookies to your casting directors for doing such a wonderful job from top to bottom.

You'll notice one of the things I kept coming back to in the above paragraphs is how much the actors have taken their characters and broken the molds that we would expect each of those people to inhabit. Great actors can only do so much. Equally great is your writing. I love your writers for not going to the same well every other show would go to, for not taking the comfortable turn, for not forcing a twist ending. All the things most series do that have come to make me bored and even irritated, I don't worry about with you. I'm very cognizant of how hard all your writers work, and they have my admiration for busting the expectations at every turn.

In particular, I have to tip my hat to Shawn Ryan, not just for creating this whole amazing playground, but because I can really feel his passion for you. It's obvious how much he loves the city of Chicago, loves telling his stories about it, and loves writing for your characters, and no amount of experience can replace that kind of fire. I can feel that watching you, and in turn that makes me feel the same way. Thanks to him, I actually kind of want to revisit Chicago - the first time I've ever said that in fifteen years.

You've gotten me shamelessly addicted to you, show, in ways I haven't been addicted to another show in awhile. I did a first yesterday: I bought the entire season to date on iTunes. That's something I never, ever do but my desire to rewatch all your episodes made me do it. I spent part of my weekend watching every one of them. Speaking of rewatching, I know you're in reruns after tonight, but I plan on watching them anyway. I just don't care. I want to watch those episodes over again. Though forgive me if I do so while wishing that you didn't have to go into reruns at all.

Also, I get your theme song stuck in my head a lot. It's stuck in my head right now. That part's kind of annoying, but I'll survive until it comes out on iTunes.

I don't know what else I can say to you, The Chicago Code. At least not without getting long-winded and talking about a lot more stuff than I have column space for. I adore your acting, your writing, your intensity. I can say that you've made my life better by introducing me to an actor that I'll never forget. I can tell you that you've made me excited about TV again. And for that, and for all of the above, no matter what happens to you, I'm always going to love you.

Best wishes,


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