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Chicago, cops & super-criminals in new TV pilot

Actor JasPatric plays former superhero detective “Powers” an FX show shot Chicago expected air next summer.

Actor Jason Patric plays a former superhero detective on “Powers,” an FX show shot in Chicago and expected to air next summer.

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Updated: October 3, 2011 11:18AM

First, a movie about a semi-super-powered vigilante (“The Dark Knight’), then a movie about super-powered robots (“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”) and now a TV pilot about law enforcers for super-powered criminals.

Chicago is looking more like a splash page every summer, and with the recent filming of “Powers” — adapted from the graphic novel of the same name — the city adds another notch to its figurative utility belt.

Production on the FX pilot, starring Jason Patric as former superhero Detective Christian Walker, began in mid-July and ended last week. Charles S. Dutton, Carly Foulkes of T-Mobile commercial fame and 11-year-old Bailee Madison will co-star in the show, along with Lucy Punch (“Bad Teacher”), who will play Walker’s partner, Detective Deena Pilgrim.

Chicago may not get co-star credit in the pilot, but the city’s personality features prominently in the show, which follows the pair of detectives as they track down baddies in a world where superpowers are common enough to warrant arrest.

“The L is a character in almost every one of our pieces,” executive producer and writer Charles Eglee said, noting that Chicago was chosen early on as a location where the shows’ supernatural aspects could be grounded. Scenes were shot along the South Loop, Cicero and some of the more “gritty” areas on the West Side, among other places.

Though Eglee says he’s not a diehard science fiction or comic book kind of guy, his work on shows like “Dark Angel” and “The Walking Dead” at least hint toward an attraction to the genres.

The Emmy award-winning producer also worked on “Dexter” and “The Shield,” which inhabit worlds of deftly written super-crime in varying degrees.

“Powers,” says Eglee, “is a mashup of genres — like, if you took ‘Se7en’ and smushed it with ‘The Dark Knight.’ ”

Otherwise known as a comic nerd’s ultimate universe.

“The superhero genre is ripe for reinvention,” FX president John Landgraf told reporters Saturday. “Everything television has ever done in that genre is the equivalent of [a 7 or 8] o’clock show — light, breezy [and] special effects-oriented. I’m not saying that ‘Powers’ isn’t fun, but it aspires to be a serious drama, and it’s fascinating to me to try to reshape and reinvent familiar genres.”

Eglee says the pilot, which will air around June 2012 if the full series is ordered, deconstructs superheroes and the super-crime drama.

“For me it was about creating some interesting characters in a law enforcement context, and it just so happens that the bad guys they’re fighting have abilities that regular people don’t have,” he said. “I just look at our bad guys as metaphors for real-life characters.”

Though the pilot is based on Brian Michael Bendis’ “Powers” comics (winner of three of the comics industry’s Eisner Awards), Eglee says the show won’t be dependent on rendering stories already told in the book. In order to flesh out story lines, for example, the show could spend an entire season on a story arc that comprised as few as six issues of the graphic novel.

Though set in an imaginary world, the place that the “Powers” pilot inhabits is very much Chicago, according to Eglee. The show’s creators worked with a tech adviser at the Chicago Police Department to ensure that the actions, looks and lingo of police officers “infuse the story with a verisimilitude.” Fans might recall a similar effect in “The Shield,” which led, in part, to the show’s characteristic realism.

Though there are several hurdles remaining before viewers are able to tune in, Eglee said that, so far, things are going well for the show — meaning that if the show is approved by FX network executives, fans of “Powers” and newcomers alike will be able to catch yet another glimpse of the city through a super-powered lens.

“I’ve just really fallen in love with Chicago,” Eglee said. “It’s an exciting place to shoot in and an exciting place to write about.”

In other words, another 10 points to Chicago for being awesome.

Readers are urged to keep on geekin’ on.

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