TV crossovers are nothing new. Cast of “The Green Hornet” showed up on “Batman.” The Simpsons made an appearance on “The Critic.” The “Homicide: Life on the Streets” Baltimore cops traveled to New York to work with the “Law & Order” gang.
Crossovers take a lot of planning unless the programs are produced by the same company, as in the case of “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” The NBC programs, both the creation of Dick Wolf, got together with Wolf’s other NBC product, “Law & Order: SVU,” in November for a triple cross.
The two Chicago-based shows are at it again starting with the Tuesday, Feb. 3, episode of “Fire” and playing out in the Wednesday, Feb. 4, episode of “Chicago P.D.” The episodes solve an emotional storyline that’s been a big part of “Chicago Fire” since the start of the season.
“It’s always been in the back of my mind that whenever you can do this on a rational basis, it’s synergistic. Actually, there are people that love ‘Fire’ and others that love ‘P.D.’ And when you bring them together, you get both sides exposed to new characters,” Wolf says. “So I just think it’s a win-win. You can’t do it too often. But two, three times a season, that’s catnip.”
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Those who aren’t familiar with “Chicago Fire,” will discover the professional and private lives of the firefighters, Rescue Squad and paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51. It stars Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney, Eamonn Walker, Monica Raymund, Kara Kilmer and David Eigenberg.
Anyone tuning into “Chicago P.D.” for the first will find Jason Beghe, Sophia Bush and Jon Seda starring in the story of the men and women of the Chicago Police Department’s Intelligence Unit that deals with organized crime, drug trafficking and high-profile murders.
The story that links them is the death of “Chicago Fire” character Leslie Shay (Lauren German) in September. Killing the character was a combination of factors.
“It’s sort of a double-gated thing. Obviously, if a character is leaving, you want to maximize the effect,” Wolf says. “It’s a very dangerous business, and that’s why that methodology was chosen.
“Leavings are always bittersweet, but you’re always looking for ways to do them that are unexpected, or in this case, was a major cliffhanger.”
The logistics of pulling to the two shows together was made simple because not only do the programs both film in Chicago, the buildings that serve as the primary exteriors for both shows are only a block and a half apart.
Spencer has seen how this coming together of police and firefighters is a reflection of what goes on in the real world.
“There’s a place called The Diversity Yacht Club, which a lot of firemen hang out, and there’s always cops there as well. The 100 Club in Chicago, which supports families of fallen firefighters and cops, they have gala events. NBC has supported them.,” Spencer says. “It really is one community. And they do work side-by-side. So these shows coming together is absolutely part of reality.”
The casts of both shows have heard from both firefighters and police officers about losing someone in the line of duty.
Kinney, whose character was affected the most by the death, learned that most of those who lost someone didn’t wear their emotions on their sleeves.
“It’s a humbling experience. It’s something that you just try to bury emotionally, and I think that it manifests itself in some other shape or form. But to get to a place in the story in terms of the show where we are now, you learn from it. You work with it. But you don’t get past it,” Kinney says. “So the storyline now with coming across the building collapse where Shay was killed, we find out that that was possibly not an accident, that that could be a murder. So that brings up all the old wounds and opens up a new storyline.”