Hot time, summer in the city, and the third episode of "Chicagoland" is filled with fireworks of all sorts.
For those of you who like and admire our mayor, this episode is a feast of favorable scenes. For those who do not like and admire the mayor, this episode provides much ammunition for your "nothing but a puff piece" arguments.
There is Rahm Emanuel from the past, protesting Nazis in Marquette Park as a bare-chested teenager. There he is last year, high-fiving his way along the Gay Pride Parade route and at a graduation ceremony at a charter high school. There he is at one of his "favorite mayoral duties," officiating at a naturalization ceremony, and there he is, watching the Chicago Children's Choir perform in Chinatown.
Garry McCarthy, the police superintendent? He's here, too, at one point expressing his increasing frustration with the blood that splatters the streets, asking rhetorically in an office, "Is the (air conditioning) working in this place or am I having a stroke?"
Liz Dozier, the principal of Fenger High School? She's here, too, expressing worry about her kids and, far from her South Side neighborhood (in more ways than mere distance), sailing on the lake with pal/restaurateur Billy Dec and dining with some of her students at Alinea, chef Grant Achatz's expensive and trendsetting North Side restaurant. One of Dozier's graduates winds up working in the kitchen, dreaming of one day opening his own place.
New characters and potential storylines begin to emerge here. One is Erica Demarest, a young reporter for DNAinfo.com, who goes about the sorrowful business of interviewing the family and friends of victims of violence in order to write profiles of the dead. She is compassionate and a colleague of the series' co-writer and narrator, Mark Konkol.
We take a trip to Albany Park, where we meet — compellingly, though not at all at sufficient length — some of those from the Albany Park Theater Project, an estimable group of teens and young adults of various ethnic backgrounds who create original theatrical works based on their life experiences.
One of the most compelling new figures in the series appears in the frazzled form of Dr. Andrew Dennis, head of the trauma unit at Stroger Hospital. He deals with three or four gunshot victims every night, saying, "My world is all about being in people's worst nightmares." None is worse than that of the 24-year-old husband/father/Navy veteran shot in a drive-by and rushed to the hospital.
Dennis is one of those otherwise faceless folks fighting the good fight on the front lines, and it is something of a hopeful revelation to watch him retreat to the shelter of his wife and two children in their Roscoe Village home.
The episode, always seeking, as have the others, to balance the bad by the good, also touches on the city's famous comedy scene, giving us images of such past laugh-makers as Bill Murray and performance shots of the annual Just for Laughs festival. The Second City's executive vice president, Kelly Leonard, is not wrong when he says on camera, "Chicago is funny."
But I guess that all depends on where you live.
Rick Kogan will review all eight parts of "Chicagoland," Thursdays in A+E.
9 p.m. Thursday; 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday; 9 p.m. and midnight Sunday; 3 a.m. Monday; CNN