TV Review: Dick Wolf’s ‘Chicago Justice’ on NBC

Chicago Justice
Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC

“Chicago Justice” fits almost seamlessly alongside its sister shows “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.,” and “Chicago Med,” creating the rather unlikely mega-bloc of character dramas about civic responsibility in the Windy City.

As fans of the franchise already know, the “Chicago” dramas differ from Dick Wolf’s previous (and ongoing) mega-franchise “Law and Order” by emphasizing character over case-of-the-week. It’s made for a tapestry of principled characters across various public-facing institutions — emergency rooms, police stations, fire departments. “Chicago Justice” brings this formula to courtrooms, but the pace still feels familiar. The show is deeply rooted in the concept of celebrating the heroism of public-service occupations, which goes towards explaining just how comfortable and consistent “Chicago Justice” already feels.

“Chicago Justice’s” premiere was the third part of a three-part crossover event with “Chicago P.D.” and “Chicago Fire,” depicting first a fire at a rave and then the investigation into the arson. By the time it gets to “Justice,” the case is thorny and complex, with personal investments that span departments and family histories. It’s a bit silly and a bit grave and totally delicious, a multi-part event that is soothingly wonderful to watch.

The new show is led by Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Stone (Philip Winchester), a newly minted, differently located Jack McCoy of “Law & Order.” His delivery isn’t quite the same as Sam Waterston’s — whose could be? — but the premiere allows him a closing statement that is the exact beautifully overwrought courtroom finale “Chicago Justice” is trying to produce.

Winchester is a square-jawed, glint-eyed actor who is preternaturally comfortable in a suit; as Stone, he radiates principle, which is the firmament of this entire franchise. The cases in “Chicago Justice’s” first two episodes are also finer quality than the ones seen in “Law and Order” — much less lurid and “ripped from the headlines,” making for a far more thought-provoking path to bittersweet justice. The second episode jumps right into the fray with a look at a police brutality case that divides the city.

Winchester is backed up by Carl Weathers as his superior, the State’s Attorney, as well as Jon Seda, imported from “Chicago P.D.” Joelle Carter, best known as Ava Crowder from “Justified,” delivers an eye-catching performance in the tiny role of Seda’s character’s new partner.

Of course, the “Chicago” franchise is a bit boilerplate. But in investing in so many diverse characters united by common mission, it feels like a broadcast formula with a necessary jolt of contemporary vision. “Chicago Justice” is not going to change our notion of courtroom dramas, but for what it is, it’s solid, satisfying stuff.

TV Review: Dick Wolf's 'Chicago Justice' on NBC

Drama, 13 episodes (2 reviewed): NBC, Sun. Mar. 5, 9 p.m. 60 min.

Crew

Executive producers, Dick Wolf, Michael S. Chernuchin, Matt Olmstead, Derek Haas, Michael Brandt, Arthur Forney, Peter Jankowski

Cast

Philip Winchester, Carl Weathers, Monica Barbaro, Joelle Carter, Jon Seda

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  1. Anthony Alexander says:

    When do State Attorney Investigators show up at a crime scene, investigate the crime, find suspects and arrest them? I’m confused because it seems the police detectives are left out of the criminal process…where does that happen? Why is Carl Weathers so angry? He never backs up his people and only wants to look good in a win but doesn’t help the process plus is always wrong. This is a law and order reboot with the State Attorneys office handling the whole investigative and judicial process…this show is full of incorrect procedure and horrible acting. It’s making PD seem unnecessary…show sucks!!!

  2. Marlene says:

    Sorry, I should have said my source was Politico. there have been a number of studies done that this article cites and the bottom line is that the statistics form chicago Justice were false.

  3. Marlene says:

    After watching it for a while, I am going to echo that sentiment. I found the last episode very disturbing promoting gun use and making gun control advocates look like psychopaths. The main character spouted the figure that guns saved 200,000 lives a year.

    I have a quote from Snopes:

    Brand new data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, a non-partisan organization devoted to collecting gun violence data, further confirms Hemenway’s suspicion that Kleck and Getz’s findings are absurd. The archive found that for all of 2014 there were fewer than 1,600 verified defensive guns uses, meaning a police report was filed. This total includes all outcomes and types of defensive uses with a police report—a far cry from the millions that Kleck and Getz estimated.

    I found the show extremely offensive and inaccurate. It should at least represent reality somewhat.

  4. Jazznbles says:

    I really dislike Chicago Justice, feels like a propaganda tool for Dick Wolf. So many “facts” used in defence have been proven to be incorrect. I am a fan of Fire, P.D., and Med…..but Justice takes too much of a political view.
    Also Philip Winchester, damn he comes across as smug.

  5. Aerin says:

    I love Chicago Fire, but dislike Chicago PD and Chicago Med, so I had my doubts about Justice. I also used to be a fan of the original L&O, but hated the spin-offs, and eventually stopped watching L&O, because the characters could not compensate for the overly formulaic writing. But I was pleasantly surprised by the premiere of Justice and will give it a try.

  6. Kathy Cirone says:

    Dick Wolf, I watch all the Chicago shows and I live in the area. I am watching on Tuesday night night and I wanted to make a comment. I am a conservative, I am pretty sure Dick Wolf is a liberal. I am a Christian and offended when the young lady playing a Muslim said they gave him a Quran because they wanted to show that they don’t want to blow up Westerners. I am disappointed in Dick Wolf for misleading the public. I am sick and tired of all the liberal verbiage on TV slanting the public to believe something other than the truth. I don’t think I will continue watching and will tell all my friends how biased the show is. Maybe you should start being honest with your viewers, we are not stupid! I have changed the channel. If the other Chicago shows do the same I will stop those as well. Very disappointed
    Kathy Cirone, Antioch, Il

    • Jeff Harner says:

      Instead of turning the channel how bout hit him where it hurts. Drop e-mails to McDonalds and American Express to have them stop buying ads at NBC and explain to them why, see what kind of reaction you get. Have your friends do it as well.

  7. I watched episode 2 of chicago justice and was thrilled to realize the link to Law and Order. Brilliant.

  8. C.Magri says:

    I thought the show was really bad. The plot was thin, acting bad, dialogue bad, characters bad. The only character that had any forcefulness was Carl Withers. I will watch 1 more then that’s it. I could have been a great crossover but doesn’t come close to Chicago Fire & Chicago Med. The had drama at least

  9. Sharon says:

    Absolutely amazing! The Chicago 4 shows are outstanding. Very glad they don’t interfere with ‘Outsiders’ !

  10. If you’ve never watched any of Dick Wolf’s #OneChicago shows, you’re really missing out! Adding to his already three VERY successful NBC dramas; Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, and Chicago Med, he now has Chicago Justice. Having just a little knowledge of the extremely long hours, painstaking hard work, and dedication from all of the cast, crew, and background, it makes me honored and privileged to be a part of Dick Wolf’s new addition. Oh, I forgot to mention that my husband & I are both Core Background Actors/Stand-ins for Chicago Justice, Background/Stand-ins/Featured Actors for Med, Fire, & PD. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for his next project. You must watch all of them to get the full effect of all the Chicago crossovers…so well played! *two thumbs up*

  11. Jeff Harner says:

    Dick Wolf has done it again with these great Chicago shows. Any of them could stand toe to toe with anything on TV, paid or free!

  12. Goodbyenoway says:

    Winchester has one of the best physiques on earth. Get him out of that suit.

  13. Dunstan says:

    I’ve never seen any of these “Chicago” shows and never will. I’m glad to see Carl Weathers is part of the cast but traditional network shows pale in comparison to the dramas found on pay TV.

    Mr. Wolfe needs to ask himself ‘what’s next?” Chicago Janitorial?

    • Jeff Harner says:

      Don’t comment on something you have never watched and is far too smart for you to graps or comprehend anyway. Go back to your overhyped Walking Dead garbage.

      • Jazznbles says:

        Your comment showed that maybe the Walking Dead is too smart for you.

        Dunstan has a point regards Justice, it’s terrible, the acting, the plots, the script.

        Sadly I have watched them all so far, so I feel I can comment.

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