First Responders Live review: Should One Chicago fans be watching?


Dick Wolf’s series First Responders Live premiered Wednesday, so should One Chicago fans watch the show described as a real-life Chicago Fire, PD and Med?

First Responders Live will appeal to many One Chicago fans. The reality show is produced by Dick Wolf, who compared it to a real-life version of the One Chicago franchise.

Unfortunately, the FOX series is nowhere near as exciting as that—or A&E‘s Live PD, which it will inevitably be compared to.

That’s because despite its title, the show isn’t actually live. It only airs live on the East Coast; other time zones get the series on tape delay. And more concerning than that, the footage they show of police, paramedics and firefighters isn’t live either; it’s allegedly pre-recorded, a claim that makes sense given that the premiere opens with Elliott describing the calls audiences are about to see.

The only thing live about the show is the commentary, delivered by host Josh Elliott (Good Morning America) and a trio of experts. That’s completely different from what you’d expect given the title of the show.

More from Dick Wolf

Live PD incorporates a slight delay so that A&E can censor out anything that can’t air on TV (like people who want to yell out their phone numbers), but it’s still showing things around the same time they’re happening. This show, in contrast, is like studying film after the events have already happened.

It might still interest One Chicago viewers who haven’t had the chance to watch police, paramedics and fire crews at work. Obviously it won’t be as fast-paced as Chicago Fire et al, because that stuff is made up for TV and thus the writers can take some dramatic license.

Watch One Chicago on fuboTV: Watch over 67 live sports and entertainment channels with a 7-day FREE trial!

Yet First Responders Live proves how difficult it is to capture what firefighters, paramedics and cops do every day. You can’t just embed some cameras and show some video. You have to have compelling stories, and interesting commentators who can add something to those stories, and the space to tell them.

As an hour-long show, it doesn’t have a lot of time, and Elliott and the commentary team feel very stiff. Perhaps that’ll change as they get more comfortable in later episodes, but they end up with long periods of silence, and then when they do say something it could be more in-depth. The show has good intentions; it just doesn’t have good execution.

If you need something to fill the One Chicago void in your life, you can check this out since it also is on Wednesdays. It fits right into that empty space. But if you want to see something that’s more detailed, and more entertaining, wait for the next episode of Live PD. It’s three hours long, so there is more room to see what happens next, and host Dan Abrams and his analysts have the TV flow down after having been doing that series since 2016.

First Responders Live will continue Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX. Watch a clip from the first episode by playing the video below.

Next. Next Law & Order series delayed at NBC. dark

For the latest First Responders Live spoilers and news, plus more on all of Dick Wolf’s other series, follow the Dick Wolf category at One Chicago Center.