Before naming his cop drama “The Chicago Code,” show runner Shawn Ryan had chosen “Ride Along” as the title of his new Windy City-based series premiering Monday (Feb. 7) on Fox.
Most police departments – including multiple precincts in D.C., Maryland and Virginia [view details below] – offer ride along programs that allow local citizens to experience a typical day in the patrol car. And such was the inspiration behind Ryan’s pilot shown to TV critics last spring. [Watch original “Ride Along” trailer at left.]
“The original concept was to try to do a police show in Chicago that kind of made the viewer feel as if they were in the police car with the cops. That was my original, original concept. And it evolved greatly over time,” Ryan told reporters at January’s TCA Winter Press Tour. “It became a show that I realized I wanted to be about a lot more than just police officers.”
The series, airing Mondays at 9 p.m., still follows veteran detective Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke), his former partner-turned-superintendent of police Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals) and his current rookie partner Caleb Edwards (Matt Lauria), but as filming on the show progressed last year, Ryan – also the creator of FX’s critically-acclaimed LAPD series “The Shield” – decided to place more attention on the city’s corrupt politicians – primarily a popular alderman played by Delroy Lindo.
“Police officers are who we use to look at the city and look at the intersection of politics and its citizenry,” Ryan explained of the show’s shift in focus. “It had become more than just sort of being in cars with police officers. It had really come to represent a city, to represent a code not only amongst police officers, but a code between people and their politicians, that trust, that mistrust. And so it did lead to the title change, which I’m ultimately very happy with.”
[View photos of Shawn Ryan in this slideshow for “The Chicago Code.”]
As previously reported, Beals’ character Teresa Colvin is Chicago’s first female superintendent of police – which comes with its own set of challenges apart from the actual crime-fighting. [**See The Chicago Code’s Jennifer Beals: Will her looks get in the way?] In researching the role, the actress went on her own ride along excursions with real Chicago cops – both before and after shooting Monday’s pilot episode.
“It was just astounding to see what they have to go through every day,” said Beals, a Chicago native. “It blew my mind. I wouldn’t last on the street for 30 seconds. I would hide in the car. And, certainly, the ride-along that I went on after I had shot the pilot was very different because I felt much more confident on the street and things didn’t affect me quite as much. I wasn’t quite as sensitized to it.
“But I have to say, now, when I’m in Chicago and I see a cop car go by, I just was like, ‘There are my boys. Those are my girls.’ Like, I feel really proud of them because they do work so hard to keep us safe. And I know that sounds so corny, but they do under such incredible circumstances.”
“Having done “The Shield” and “The Chicago Code,” added Ryan, “I’d feel much more comfortable being pulled over by the Chicago PD than the LAPD at this point.”
*Interested in a local ride-along? Most police departments in the DC area require a minimum age of 18 and residency in the dept’s same city or county. For more information, click on the ride-along link for your area.
- DC’s Metropolitan Police Dept.
- Montgomery County Police Dept.
- Prince George’s County Police Dept.
- City of Fairfax Police Dept.
- Howard County Police Dept.
- Maryland-National Capital Park Police
- Virginia Beach Police Dept.