He's one of the godfathers of network procedural dramas, but Law & Order creator Dick Wolf insists his new show, Chicago Fire, is not just a fire-of-the-week series.
"It's not. It's a character study about people who do things that you can't pay people to do," Wolf told reporters at NBC's Television Critics Association fall TV previews Tuesday. "It is a canvas for good writing -- and writing that you haven't seen for a while on network television."
NBC announces fall premiere dates
Chicago Fire, which premieres on Oct. 10 at 10/9c, stars Jesse Spencer (House), Taylor Kinney (The Vampire Diaries) and David Eigenberg (Sex and the City), among others, as firefighters working together in Chicago's Firehouse 51. The show covers the fires and other life-threatening events to which the firefighters respond. But the hourlong show also documents their turbulent home lives, like the recent demise of one character's marriage, the foreclosure on another's home and the war of egos between Spencer and Kinney's characters. "We're concentrating on the characters," Spencer said. "They don't see themselves as heroes."
Wolf said a new version of the pilot will include a major death that affects everyone in Firehouse 51 throughout the season. The longtime Law & Order executive producer said the key to character-driven storytelling is in the writing. "Twenty-two years ago, I sent out little desk cards to all the network heads that said, 'It's the writing, stupid.'"
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"What we're trying to do here is a very classic, adult, NBC platinum drama," Wolf said, citing veteran series ER, Hill Street Blues and Law & Order as predecessors. "It's hopefully in the tradition of these shows that have become, for better or worse, iconic."
So does Wolf see the potential for future spin-offs of Chicago Fire, á la the four series that stemmed from the original Law & Order? "No, I think that I just want to get ... the back nine [episodes], and hopefully settle in for a nice, long run," Wolf said. "Especially the first year of a show like this — you're not thinking about the future. You're thinking about survival."
Chicago Fire premieres Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 10/9c on NBC.