Jennifer Beals | THE CHICAGO CODE: Jason Clarke, Jennifer Beals,and Matt Lauri
Credit: Peter Sorel/FOX

The Chicago Code provides superior cop drama thanks to its cast — starting with Brotherhood?s Jason Clarke and Friday Night Lights‘ Matt Lauria as tough street police — and its creator (Shawn Ryan, who gave us The Shield). And it has two nicely contrasting foes: Jennifer Beals as Chicago’s police superintendent versus Delroy Lindo as a corrupt alderman.

That said, you can feel the strain watching The Chicago Code. Unlike Ryan’s previous employer, FX, Fox doesn’t allow very strong language, so the solution is to make Clarke’s detective Jarek Wysocki a tough guy offended by obscenity. Everyone around him uses euphemisms such as ”jag-hole,” which is just distracting.

But there’s a nice layering of plots and characters. Wysocki has a complex relationship with Beals’ Teresa Colvin, a niece who’s also on the force (Devin Kelley), and a grudge against life that becomes clear in the second episode.

Even better, Lindo’s Alderman Gibbons is dishonest without being oily about it — he goes after power with subtlety. After a week or two, I might even be able to look at the slender Beals in her absurdly oversize police-officer cap without giggling. Here’s hoping The Chicago Code continues to get richer, deeper, and less obliged to follow the standard code of cop shows. B