FBI and FBI: Most Wanted crossover builds on One Chicago success

How did this week’s FBI and FBI: Most Wanted crossover compare to One Chicago crossovers between Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Chicago Med?

This week was massive for Dick Wolf‘s FBI franchise, as FBI and FBI: Most Wanted unveiled their first official crossover. Which, naturally, prompts comparisons to the producer’s One Chicago franchise, given that it’s been producing highly-rated crossovers twice a season for the last few years.

So would the template of crossover success with one franchise translate into success with the other?

“American Dreams” and “Reveille” were as tightly plotted as a Chicago crossover event, keeping the plot moving at a pretty fast clip—it was only ten minutes between the start of the hour and the team finding their first suspect, including an introductory scene featuring Special Agent OA Zidan (Zeeko Zaki) in a coffee shop.

The episodes were perfectly structured, in that one story was pretty much tied up at the end of hour one (great for syndication), but there was enough story left to go on that it felt natural to extend it into another hour.

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Plus, there was the use of what’s become a classic Wolf franchise device: not having a commercial break between the two shows, so that it did feel like one two-hour event, and also made it less likely that casual viewers would change the channel.

Remember that FBI showrunner Rick Eid holds the same position on Chicago PD, so he has plenty of knowledge about what makes a crossover work. His influence, as well as that of other veteran creatives including frequent Dick Wolf collaborator Fred Berner (who’s directed at least one episode of every One Chicago series and three Law & Order shows), was clearly felt on this crossover.

They did a good job of getting at least one big scene for every series regular involved in the event, which is not always the case in One Chicago crossovers; sometimes only a few characters from a show get to be involved, and not all of those have a ton of screen time. But that was likely easier since they had only two shows to balance, not three.

Speaking of characters, it’s also worth noting that there were multiple actors with One Chicago credits cast in Tuesday’s crossover. Vedette Lim and Steven Boyer had previously recurred on Chicago Fire as Leslie Shay’s one-time girlfriend and Jerry Gorsch respectively, while Chicago Med guest star Louis Herthum appeared in the second half.

(It was particularly entertaining seeing Boyer transition from playing clueless Jerry Gorsch on Fire to angry white nationalist in this crossover.)

The biggest difference was this crossover’s ability to scale up. Since the FBI is a national agency, whereas the Chicago shows focus on one specific city, the Most Wanted event felt bigger in scope as it tackled big-picture issues like the white nationalist movement. The Chicago crossovers, while they are big in terms of having big on-screen moments, generally stay focused along the track of a threat to this particular city and don’t do as much philosophizing as “Reveille” and “American Dreams” did.

But that, in turn, gives these crossovers their own distinct flavor instead of just serving up the same template on another network. With events like this, there’s no reason Wolf can’t have two crossover-laden franchises firing on all cylinders.

For the latest FBI season 2 spoilers and news, plus more on all of Dick Wolf’s other series, follow the Dick Wolf category at One Chicago Center.