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'Rescue Me': Hey, didn't somebody die last time?

July 12, 2007 |  9:28 am

Denis300 The two deaths in the last original episode of "Rescue Me" didn't hang very heavy over this week's events. The pre-credits sequence featured the funeral for Siletti's mother and the discovery of Chief Reilly's suicide played out over a Randy Newman song ("Dayton Ohio, 1903"), plus a Tommy Gavin monologue on the chief's youthful heroics.

Then it was right back to the regular business of comedy, sex and firefighting.  That would be OK if the episode hadn't felt like filler, making it all the more disappointing after the tragic events of the last hour.

Tommy's and Janet's trip to a marriage counselor was the night's only real highlight. The just-under-two-minute comic recap of their troubled romantic history was nicely delivered by Denis Leary and Andrea Roth. By including a reference to last season's controversial "rape," complete with air-quotes from Tommy, Leary appeared to momentarily address some of his detractors. That reference seemed to blur the line between the characters' "reality" (in which the term "rape" had never been used to the audience's knowledge) and the media coverage of Season 3 (which endlessly debated whether the rough sexual encounter between the two in the episode "Sparks" was rape or not).

Otherwise, much of the episode was devoted to Tommy's inability to "get it up," ultimately torpedoing his latest attempt at getting back with Janet. In other relationship news, Franco (Daniel Sunjata) seems ready to propose to the first girl he's ever been serious about, and Sean (Steven Pasquale), sick of Maggie's (Tatum O'Neal) alcoholism, hoped to guilt trip her by asking for a divorce, which she was all too happy to agree to (obviously the choice between Sean and booze is an easy one for Maggie).

It was all a little too forgettable, lending credence to those who claim the show has fallen into a fourth-season creative rut.  But with nine episodes yet to come, it's still way too soon to properly judge the season overall.

One desperate plea to executive producers Leary and Peter Tolan:  Please don't go the obvious route and have crazy Sheila (Callie Thorne) kidnap Tommy's and Janet's baby.  It's fine that Sheila is written as a less-than-flattering portrait of a 9/11 widow -- that's in keeping with the myth-shattering mission of the show.  But it feels like there's more to come considering how cozy she got with the baby in her surprise visit to Tommy's apartment.

The anticipation makes me cringe.  I hope I'm wrong.

-- Geoff Berkshire

(Photo courtesy FX)