The Chicago Code” packs a whole lot of story into its first episode. It’ll either continue at that pace, or settle into a groove based on that foundation. Either way it’s got the potential for some very compelling television.

Chicago PD Superintendent Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals) learned about city corruption as a kid watching her dad pay off thugs for protection and city officials just to do their jobs. Now that she’s in charge, she’s going after alderman Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo).

On the street, Det. Wysocki (Jason Clarke) pushes his partner to drive harder in a police chase. It’s pretty good driving for a TV chase, lots of cars weaving in and out on the road. He talks the criminal Luis into pulling over, by allowing him time to propose to his girlfriend before going to jail. Wysocki dumps the partner for being a pussy, though not in as many words.

The comptroller for Fergus Construction informs Alderman Gibbons of a discrepancy. By Gibbons’ reaction, I suspect him already. When the comptroller turns up dead, I really suspect him but that would probably be too obvious. Colvin has a better plan for exposing corrupt officials, who may or may not include Gibbons, but probably include him.

She taps Wysocki to investigate crimes that suggest a link to government corruption. You can feel the trust between Coleman and Wysocki. Together, their conflicts push each other to do a better job. Apart, their respect keeps each one on the mission. They both have so much confidence, they are sure of their characters. I mean on a personal level of one’s character, not just the actors playing a character on TV.

Wysocki doesn’t like swearing, which is a good way to clean up cop talk for primetime television, but it also makes him more badass than if he dropped F bombs. A guy who’s going to beat you for swearing is scarier than a guy who swears. He knows street smart tactics for isolating his witnesses when they can’t talk in public. You do learn one of his flaws by the end of the pilot. Colvin takes out the garbage, sending a corrupt cop to a janitorial closet to get him off the street.

It’s a “pay attention” show with lots of elements to observe. Each character narrates their introduction and hosts an act of the show. Metaphors make sharp dialogue, like cleaning the city plumbing one toilet at a time. Wysocki keeps giving his new partner, Caleb Evers (Matt Lauria) different nicknames based on Fast Times at Ridgemont High because Caleb said something about Phoebe Cates. Cop car banter about top album covers or movie babes make them feel like real guys.

By the end of the first episode, it’s on. Each week Wysocki will pick which call sounds fishy and start busting heads. Colvin’s going to play the system against itself. The big story (allegedly corrupt alderman) and the little story (weekly case) are both exciting so we’re in good shape.