In the Edit Bay: The Swan Song of 'The Chicago Code'
Today's cuppa: coffee from beans I ground myself (in a blender!)
On Monday night, Fox airs the last episode ever of the freshman drama "The Chicago Code," which came on at midseason and didn't manage to earn a berth for the fall (to be fair, lots of shows that were on the bubble didn't get berths on the Fox fall schedule).
The episode, called "Mike Royko's Revenge" -- Royko was a famous Chicago columnist -- resolves the season-long pursuit by Police Superintendent Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals) and Detective Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke) of corruption charges against powerful Alderman Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo).
(Click here for a promo.)
On this chilly but sunny January day, series creator Shawn Ryan is huddled in a windowless room in a fanciful building on the 20th Century Fox lot -- which he says used to house actress Shirley Temple's dressing room and dance studio, and also was where the episodes of "M*A*S*H" were written.
Ryan and his team are at work on editing the next-to-last scene of the last episode of the series, a montage backed by music, the style of which may seem familiar to viewers of Ryan's earlier show, FX's "The Shield."
While writers, directors and actors get a lot of well-deserved credit for TV shows, a great deal of what gives an episode its shape and distinctiveness comes in the editing room - and sometimes that requires a little magic.
In one part of the scene being worked on, a bit of surgery needs to be done so that the biggest dramatic moment happens when it should. That includes repeating the same actor reaction, but in two different places in the scene and from two different angles.
"Don't tell the dirty little secret about how we double the same moment from different angles," quips Ryan.
"It's this one-night-stand pickup scene," he continues, "but the way they filmed it, the hottest moment comes in the middle of the scene.
"So what we've done is we've moved the lines around. So what was this moment in the middle of the scene -- what we've created editorially is making it the end of the scene, taking some lines from the end of the scene and moving them before this.
"The audience would never know, the way they've done it."
Underneath the montage is a hauntingly lovely song called "I Dream of Chicago," by a band from Des Moines, Iowa, called Parlours. A little extra work is also required on that, stretching instrumental passages and moving lines of the chorus to make sure they hit perfectly on all the emotional high points on the screen.
"This is a song our guys found," says Ryan, a native of Rockford, Ill., near Chicago. "They're completely sort of art-school indie. Des Moines is where the Cubs Triple A team is, so there's that connection."
So, while "The Chicago Code" is coming to an end, it stays on the air just long enough to give this song a network-TV debut. If you can't wait until Monday, the video is embedded below.
Farewell to "The Chicago Code" ...