Category: Rescue Me

Television Academy Honors salutes 'Harry's Law,' other projects

Harry's law

The fifth annual Television Academy Honors, created to celebrate projects that use the power of television to create positive social change, will salute several projects, including NBC's "Harry's Law" and TNT's canceled "Men of a Certain Age."

The awards, sponsored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, were announced by Dana Delaney, who will host the awards ceremony May 2 at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Honorees include the "Head Games" episode of "Harry's Law," which dealt with football-related head injuries to young athletes, and the "Let The Sunshine In" episode of "Men of A Certain Age," which underscored the importance of males of getting annual checkups to address health issues early.

Other shows being honored include HBO's documentary "Hot Coffee," PBS' "Women, War & Peace" and FX's "Rescue Me."

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--Greg Braxton

Photo: Kathy Bates in "Harry's Law." Credit: Jordan Althaus / NBC

New version of 'Coma' on A&E to star several Oscar winners

Ellen
Oscar winners Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Burstyn and Geena Davis have landed in the cast of A&E's upcoming reboot of "Coma," a modern-day retelling of the best-selling novel by Robin Cook and the film that starred Michael Douglas and Genevieve Bujold.

Also in the cast of the four-hour miniseries is Oscar nominee James Woods, Lauren Ambrose ("Six Feet Under"), Steven Pasquale ("Rescue Me"), Joe Morton ("The Good Wife"), James Rebhorn ("Law & Order") and Joseph Mazello ("The Pacific"). The two-night event will be produced by Ridley and Tony Scott and directed by Mikail Salomon ("Band of Brothers").

"Coma" revolves around a doctor who discovers that something sinister is happening at her hospital after routine procedures send more than a few seemingly healthy patients into comas on the operating table.

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--Greg Braxton 

Photo: Ellen Burstyn in "Our Fathers" in 2005. Credit: Ken Woroner / Showtime

 

'Rescue Me' finale recap: The end of the road

Dennis Leary plays Tommy Gavin in 'Rescue Me'

Man, they had us going, didn’t they? As the opening minutes of "Rescue Me’s" series finale unfolded, it was as if we were watching a totally different show. It opens with Lou -- supposedly the lone survivor of last week’s explosion -- who leads us through a tearful funeral service complete with his gut-wrenching eulogy for Tommy Gavin and the crew of 62 truck. We see it all, the burnt bodies, the train of caskets inside a church, Lou’s scarred face staring out into a crowd of sobbing family members and friends. But just as you’re about to reach for the Kleenex ... boom. Tommy wakes up and realizes the whole thing was a dream.

From that moment on, those who expected a respectful, somber tribute to the firefighters on "Rescue Me" were quickly reminded that this is not that kind of show. Reveling in its loud, politically incorrect ball of dark humor, the series finale makes an art form out of comic relief. That includes the death of Lou, who in reality was the only one who didn’t make it out of the explosion alive.

Assuming you could suspend your disbelief long enough to buy that, the first part of the episode was an uncomfortably tense waiting game to see how Tommy would react.

When Chief Needles asks Tommy to type out a report on everything he remembers about the deadly fire, we’re taken on a crazy ride to flashback town as he sits at a computer and recaps the miracle of how he and the crew all managed to survive except Lou. For some reason, even though I know they were going for shock value, seeing Lou’s burnt-up face when Tommy finds him under a pile of rubble just seems a little schlocky, like some bad horror movie. But the death of his best friend had a very real effect on Tommy, to the point where he’s willing to finally retire from firefighting.
Nursing various bumps and bruises, Franco, Garrity, Mike and Black Shawn are each struggling with their next move in life, whether that means transferring houses or quitting along with Tommy.

And while it appears to be the end of the line for the crew, the show reminds us that we could never see these guys operating in the real world, especially Tommy. Despite coming off as a borderline basket case for most of the series, Sheila is the one person that can sum Tommy up the best when he tells her he’s trying to quit the one thing in life that he’s really good at. “I know who you are,” she says. “You need two things to survive: Sex and fire. One’s no good without the other.”

We see just how true that is as Tommy’s neurotic, overly agitated behavior grants us some of the funniest moments of the season. Whether he was arguing with a group of New Age, overprotective parents at the playground during playtime with his son Wyatt or grilling Franco about chewing his gum in the car on the crew’s ride to Lou’s funeral, there was no point where Denis Leary’s brand of foul-mouthed, grumpy-guy comedy didn’t shine through.

And no matter how you thought the final episode played out, there’s no way you didn’t crack up at the scene in the car with Lou’s exploding ashes.The second that Mike opens up the box o' Lou on his lap, Franco and Black Shawn roll down their windows and create a vortex that sends their dead brother’s ashes all over Tommy’s car. That includes their clothes, their hair and Garrity’s butt crack. Honestly, that entire sequence is brilliant. Right up to the moment where we see Garrity squatting over the ash box on the side of the road, trying to sift the remnants of Lou out from between his cheeks.

A scene from the 'Rescue Me' finaleWhen you really break it down, that’s the stuff people are going to remember about this episode. And while it’s undeniable that the reminder of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is ever-present, the episode did a fine job of showing these firefighters the way the series always has: as real people with flaws, quirks and problems. Seriously, would Lou’s funeral scene have been the same if Uncle Teddy hadn’t chosen to publicly acknowledge the firefighter’s encyclopedic knowledge of porn?

The letter that Lou left for Tommy to read at his funeral is also a comedic stab at the realization that together, through all the jokes, fire, death and redemption, this crew and this show really had something special.

So special, in fact, that Tommy’s resolve to quit being a firefighter is dashed by the tail end of the episode. Although it’s also because his wife Janet realizes that if he stays at home for much longer, she’s gonna kill him. But Tommy’s last major hurdle in the episode requires him to be both a firefighter and super dad when pregnant Janet finally goes into labor with their child and can’t make it to the hospital. All of a sudden he’s forced to spring into action and deliver the baby safely. And all before before fainting like a wimp and falling on the floor. The boy-child, dubbed Shea Gavin, is another pretty good attempt to bring the show full circle from death to new life.

One thing that seemed to be lacking from the episode was the presence of Tommy’s cousin Jimmy -- or any of the ghosts that Tommy was directly related to for that matter. There’s so many to choose from: his son Connor, his dad, his dead cop brother Johnny. But at the very least Jimmy should’ve been in there somewhere patting him on the pack or busting his chops.

Either way, the show ends where it left off as Tommy addresses a new batch of fire academy recruits. Standing in front of a banner filled with the 343 names of firefighters who died on 9/11, the scene was a proper "Rescue Me"-style tribute filled with yelling, cursing and unshakable respect for those who died.

After passing the recruits off to the newly promoted Lt. Franco, Tommy gets one last hallucinatory chat with Lou in his truck before driving off camera and off the air as one of the most riveting, foul-mouthed, battle-scarred, wise-cracking, unforgettable characters FX has ever produced.

What did you think of the final episode, Showtrackers? Did it do the show justice? 
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'Rescue Me' recap: The last fire for Tommy and the crew?

--Nate Jackson

Photos: Denis Leary, left, plays Tommy Gavin on 'Rescue Me.' Bottom photo: A scene from the 'Rescue Me' finale. Credit: Jeff Niera / FX

'Rescue Me' recap: The last fire for Tommy and the crew?

Dennis Leary of 'Rescue Me'
This week's episode of "Rescue Me" was defined by three cringe-worthy elements: champagne binge drinking, piles of racist jokes and a deadly explosion that may have just incinerated everyone that's left to care about on this show.

Ironically, the episode begins with what should've been one of the sweetest moments so far in the show's final season.

Finally, Tommy Gavin's oldest daughter, Colleen, is about to walk down the aisle to marry Black Shawn, a ceremony that few could've been predicted when actor Lorenz Tate joined the cast in Season 4. Had it been almost any other family, this beautiful, sappy day of love, roses and wedding vows would've gone off without a hitch. But before it even begins, Tommy's insistence on stealing his daughter off her Uncle Teddy's arm to walk her down the aisle threatens to derail the ceremony. Everyone seems to be betting on Tommy to screw up the wedding (literally, a $300 wager), and he does swoop in at the last minute for an amazingly awkward attempt to co-usher his daughter down the aisle, fainting with anxiety before he can even give her away -- a predictable father-of–the-bride comedy shtick you saw coming from a million miles away.

What wasn't really so predictable was the enthusiasm with which the firefighters of 62 Truck push the racism envelope at Black Shawn's wedding, firing off a whispered barrage of Mexican and black jokes.(Anybody else guess that Black Shawn's mother was Mexican?) The bad jokes were almost as off-putting as Chief Needle's decision to come to the wedding wearing that weird jacket that made him look like an Italian kung-fu master. Race jokes are nothing new on this show, but this episode was a little over- the-top offensive.

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'Rescue Me' recap: Lou goes from Jeter to Judas

  Tommy Gavin is a master of manipulation on this week's episode of 'Rescue Me'

It’s been hard to track many of the plot lines in the final season of "Rescue Me" that flare up and extinguish without much warning. But one thing that remains consistent is the way the writers seem to turn up the heat when it comes to the behavior and interactions among the main characters.

The most obvious one in this episode is Franco, or should we say “Francostein.” Apparently becoming a temporary lieutenant of 62 Truck has made him a monster. Since taking over as acting lieutenant, he’s gone from suave ladies' man to task master, barking orders at Tommy and Lou and making his crew polish every inch of the firehouse in an effort to prove his worthiness. It backfires on him all too quickly, but we’ll get to that in a second.

What’s really interesting is Tommy’s utter stupidity when it comes to trusting Lou a second time with a new batch of personal letters he’s written to his loved ones--including Janet and Sheila--to be given to them in the event of his death. Apparently the absence of actual firefighting in this season has afforded him the time to become a writer all of a sudden. But given Lou’s handling (a.k.a. opening) of Tommy’s letter to him last week, it’d be no surprise that he does it again.

As much as we’d like to see the show pull off its crazy intersection of nuanced plot lines, this episode in particular gets kind of tangled, especially in moments like the one at Tommy’s house where he’s dealing with the anger over Colleen not wanting him to walk her down the aisle at her wedding, Janet wanting him to quit firefighting and Sheila hating him for reading her secret love letter from dead cousin Jimmy last week. The foreground presence of female drama on this show has gotten tiresome, much like Tommy’s letter-writing shtick.

After Lou reads Tommy’s letter to him, filled with teary-eyed sentiments of friendship, it sends Lou into a disturbing, googly-eyed stupor that  leads him on a well-intentioned path to mess things up for Tommy by episode’s end. It’s a little surprising, given how highly Tommy speaks of Lou when Franco quickly disproves his readiness to become an officer.

As the firefighters arrive on call to rescue a man teetering over the edge of a river in his car, hot head Franco’s heroics almost get him killed before Lou steps in to order the crew to reel the car in with a chain on the rig. The scene ends with Tommy whipping out baseball metaphors, comparing Franco to a glory-seeking A-Rod and Lou to Derek Jeter, the guy who simply goes for the win. The only thing more annoying than the cliche comparison was how quickly Franco’s chance to be an officer gets tossed after building up to it for three episodes.

Although Lou betrays Tommy’s trust yet again by giving Sheila her letter and Janet a special rewritten version of hers, his ability to add more quality, (albeit preachy) monologues this week that helped salvage a somewhat disappointing episode. Lou’s prop-filled song and dance involving a shot glass, photos and lighter fluid seems to convince Sheila that Tommy is a good person despite his faults. Though he tries the same thing on Janet, it becomes a physical comedy scene when he accidentally starts a little fire in her kitchen.

One thing that was most off-putting was how Tommy’s mushy letters to the people in his life had them treating him like a prince. Apparently it doesn’t sit with Tommy either (no one’s ever this nice to him). At the celebratory dinner for Black Shawn and Colleen's wedding, he finds out Lou had already given them out.

But what Tommy’s really mad about is the fact that after accidentally burning Janet’s letter in his kitchen fire mishap, Lou rewrote a new version that promises that Tommy’s finally going to quit the New York Fire Department. In Tommy’s mind, his pal, Mr. Jeter, was immediately downgraded to a backstabbing Judas, which no doubt will put a strain on their friendship in episodes to come. Although the episode tried to use this strain on Tommy and Lou’s friendship to foreshadow dark events, it’ll be interesting to see what aspects of all this interpersonal drama are actually going to amount to anything by the end of the season.

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--Nate Jackson

Photo: Dennis Leary as Tommy Gavin on "Rescue Me."  Credit: FX

'Rescue Me' recap: 9/11 memories provide lessons for the living

Dennis Leary plays Tommy Gavin in 'Rescue Me'

There are those who think that monuments to the dead should be fashioned from stone and steel. And in the case of  9/11’s tragedy, it’s natural for Tommy Gavin and the firefighters of 62 Truck to want the crater at Ground Zero to be replaced by an equally awesome gravestone to their grief. But after 10 years, the specter of the Twin Towers still looming with nothing to replace them, they’re forced to realize that the true memorials are already built inside their hearts and minds. 

Chief Feinberg, the crew’s kindhearted-yet-cantankerous task master sums up this week’s episode of “Rescue Me” the best: “Walls, buildings, bridges, they don’t mean …. If you want to memorialize someone you do it by talking about their deeds.” 

In Tommy’s case, a trip to Ground Zero triggers a hallucinatory expedition for memories of his cousin Jimmy, one of the 343 New York firefighters killed on 9/11. In the last couple episodes, he’s been a little too busy battling back monsters (i.e. reporter Pam Keppler) in the real world to be bothered with the ghosts of his subconscious. But a creepy visit from a pre-vegetative state spirit of his nephew Damien while he’s with him in Sheila’s apartment guides Tommy to a love letter Jimmy wrote to her, hidden in her bedroom.

In the fleeting seconds before Sheila catches him reading it and shoos him out the door, Tommy uncovers a private memorial to Jimmy’s love for his wife. And for Sheila, the words Jimmy wrote transcend any of the backstabbing, cheating and lying that sullied their marriage in real life. Jimmy’s letter, like so many others left behind by firefighters who died on 9/11, is a true testament of love.

Speaking of which, it must be true love between Garrity and his new girlfriend (a.k.a. “the farter”) since he's still willing to put up with her post-sex flatulence (a.k.a. or-gas-ms). Not to mention the endless stream of fart jokes from the crew. 

In a weird turn of events, the jokes continue until the crew gets deployed to a job where a father and his kids have been suffocated by a gas leak. Not quite sure what message that sends but it kills the humor in the episode for a while. Thankfully the chuckles resume when Garrity decides that the gas mask given to him by the crew as a joke can actually be useful after sex with his lady fartress. Despite the smell, Garrity’s commitment is actually kinda sweet.

Sheila shows a lot of sweetness and maturity toward Colleen in this episode as she helps her and Black Shawn pay for an elaborate dream wedding at a giant mansion in New Jersey. After a reality check from Tommy last week about her son Damien’s brain damage, she’s stopped spending money on overpriced rehabilitation therapy. Finally, she  realizes that remembering him as he was and accepting him for who he is now is all she can do. 

Everyone seems to be getting sentimental in this episode, even Tommy, who decides to pen a huge handful of letters to family and friends that he hopes will tell them how he feels about them in case he doesn’t come home from work one day. But despite the gesture, Lou--his best friend in the firehouse-- calls him out on his deathly preoccupation with 9/11 that puts stress on every aspect of his life. In many ways, Tommy's grief is no different than the millions of people who’s lives were destroyed along with the firefighters killed that day. But somehow, Tommy’s obsession with preparing himself for death is more than Lou can stand.

“Do what you gotta do, Tom,” Lou says. “Go downtown, bury yourself in that hole and make it official. Make it 344.”

After Tommy storms off, we're given a taste of another side plot to come when badgering from Black Shawn, Franco and the rest of the crew over his poor diet and forgetfulness in his job in the firehouse leads him to give Franco just what he wants: the job of acting lieutenant for the next five days. We’ll see what kind of mayhem happens on his watch.

The episode ends where it begins when Tommy makes a final drive down to Ground Zero, where he relives the nightmare of 10 years ago. The image of his cousin Jimmy wading in the carnage hopefully serves as a reminder that this isn’t the way he’s supposed to remember him and that standing in front of some great monument is only a reminder of the pain he suffered and every year he spends wading through 9/11 nightmares, he loses a little bit of himself.

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Photo: Denis Leary's Tommy Gavin fights fires and his own demons. Credit: FX

'Rescue Me' recap: The power of 'Operation Oral Sex'

Tommy Gavin is a master of manipulation on this week's episode of 'Rescue Me'
 
In Tommy Gavin’s world, there’s been no shortage of sex, lies and videotape. And even though the sex part of that equation has been lacking in his own life as of late, this week’s episode fashions  him as a master of manipulation when it comes to exposing other people’s X-rated escapades. 

It starts after he realizes that giving the middle finger to reporter Pam Keppler on camera during her scathing 9/11 TV special wasn’t the brightest idea. Turns out the televised outburst only whetted her appetite to dig up every once of dirt associated with him and the rest of his crew. We’re talking seven season’s worth of sins here. Not to mention the fact that Tommy’s already been suspended from duty for 30 days by the FDNY once his curse-filled rant starts a front cover media frenzy. From the outside, it looks as if Tommy’s loose cannon ways have finally cost him the last of his nine lives as a firefighter.

Meanwhile, it’s not completely certain how Franco’s new by-the-book attitude will play in the next few episodes as he tries to move up in the ranks of the Fire Department. The fact that he refuses to play ball with Chief Needle’s plan to bring down Keppler could easily spell the end of his friendship with Tommy. At the very least, the rift is sure to produce a few more fist fights in the firehouse.

Although Tommy’s rage got him into this mess, it’s obviously not gonna get him out of it. Neither is pride, apparently. He’s even willing to ask Todd, his longtime cop rival for help in tracking down dirt on Keppler in exchange for throwing the 9/11 10th anniversary hockey game between the fire and police departments.

The cop rebukes his offer, but luckily, the groveling pays off with some seriously salacious video courtesy of one of Todd’s fellow officers, who shows Tommy a videotape of the reporter giving him oral sex in order to avoid an arrest for nightclub cocaine possession. It appears Keppler’s reputation as a big mouth isn’t limited to her job as a reporter anymore. Sucks to be her.

The Keppler video only adds to the revelation that Mike -- the resident gay guy on the crew of 62 Truck -- also gave oral pleasure to a male officer named “Doug” down at FDNY headquarters after a Christmas party. Never has a pack of firefighters been so happy to hear that kind of news.

 But before Tommy can deploy the evil plan he’s designed to clear his name, he’ll need help from the women in his life. That’s a little tough considering his wife, Janet, and Sheila are once again at each other’s throats planning the wedding for Tommy’s daughter Colleen. Oddly enough, it’s this frenzy of bridal  bitchiness that sparks one of Tommy’s greatest moments of sensitivity and machismo.

It took both of those things to sit the women in his life down to dole out a harsh reality session centered on the importance of family and the fact that theirs is irreversibly screwed up. But if they can just acknowledge their dysfunction, embrace it and work together, there’s nothing they can’t accomplish.

With a little bit of blackmail and some of Sheila’s amazing acting skills, the Gavin clan manages to use "Operation Oral Sex" to hammer FDNY officials with info about Mike’s naughty affair with “Doug” (a.k.a. Lt. Hanrahan) that gets Tommy his job back. And that little video of Keppler becomes the ultimate leverage during her on-camera interview with Sheila about her sexual past with Tommy. Fittingly, the episode ends with Keppler going down, yet again.

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'Rescue Me' Recap: Tommy Gavin handles an inferno of estrogen

-- Nate Jackson

Photo: Dennis Leary plays Tommy Gavin in "Rescue Me." Credit: FX

'Rescue Me' recap: Loud and angry vs. silent but deadly

  Dennis Leary plays Tommy Gavin in 'Rescue Me'

It's now unmistakably clear why flames and explosions have taken a back seat in the final season of "Rescue Me." Who needs fires when the crew of 62 Truck is so good at fighting each other? Of course, the show has always thrived on the dog piles, busted lips and black eyes this group of New York firefighters likes to bestow on each other. But this week's episode presents violence of a different pedigree -- one that combines the knock-down-drag-out nature of Tommy Gavin and company with a kerosene-soaked rag of media controversy and a spark of workplace mutiny.

But -- for once -- we can't totally blame Tommy's arrogance, temper or alcoholism for the near brawl that erupted between him, Franco and Chief Needles before the episode's opening credits. As the crew sits down to cringe at the way reporter Pam Keppler's 9/11 TV special was edited into an FDNY hit piece, the tension in the room is palpable. In an effort to make the story juicier than a program about firefighters who died on 9/11, the final product focused more on the flaws of the FDNY than its fallen heroes.
Continue reading »

'Rescue Me' recap: Revelations come in all shapes and sizes

Dennis Leary plays Tommy Gavin in 'Rescue Me'

There’s typically no shortage of problems brought to the table in the drama and soot-covered world of “Rescue Me.” But it was interesting to see one of this week’s heaviest issues was Lou’s waistline. Especially considering the comedy of errors that befell the crew of 62 Truck while it was conspiring to keep the pudgy veteran from having to take his department physical. This week, Lou’s cohorts are finally calling him out on his weight problem and poor health. After an argument with Franco in front of the crew, Lou’s backside becomes the source of foreground tension amid a much larger emotional sore spot in this episode: the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

There’s no denying that the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center lays its ghostly veil over every aspect of the series. Until now, the ability of the main characters to struggle with the aftermath is the most wrenching and riveting part of the show. And the 9/11 TV special being filmed during the course of the last episodes, despite being pitched as a “hero piece” about the FDNY, just seems like salt on an open wound that refuses to heal.

Continue reading »

'Rescue Me' Recap: Tommy Gavin handles an inferno of estrogen

Rescue me 1

Attaching “respect” and “legacy” to a firefighter’s name often comes at a very high premium. In return for putting their lives on the line daily, there’s a hope that eventually these words will become suffixes that remind the world of their extraordinary sacrifices.

There’s a lot of “legacy” talk in Tommy Gavin’s world this week. Most of it comes through forced circumstances when a news crew descends on the firehouse looking to highlight Tommy’s dead cousin Jimmy Keefe for a 9/11 retrospective TV special.

But the possibility of having dirt thrown on Jimmy’s legacy, and his own, has Tommy both ticked off and nervous. Those who’ve witnessed the insane drama between Tommy and Jimmy’s widow, Sheila (who is also Tommy's ex-lover), know there’s plenty for the press to dig up.

The prospect of nosy reporter Pam Kessler poking around the firehouse creates background tension that aligns with other side stories in this episode, distracting from the fact that the crew hasn’t  been fighting much fire lately.

But, compared with the inferno of estrogen raging in Tommy’s home among his pregnant wife Janet, Sheila and his two daughters at a particularly sensitive time of the month, walking into a burning building seems like child’s play. Watching Tommy continually say the wrong thing in front of the women was seriously priceless. You’re probably still cringing at Tommy’s boneheaded attempt to make Colleen feel less self-conscious about her thighs:

“You want to de-blimp? Go sit next to your mother, that oughta give you some perspective.” 

The fact that he was able to make it out alive after that comment is something they should tack to his legacy.

On a brief venture out of the doghouse to the store, Tommy stumbles into Kelly, one of his emotionally tangled old flames from last season. But there’s one major difference: She has cancer. It’s here where we see the show’s theme take a more profound turn as this attractive, sick woman talks frankly about her legacy while maintaining an impressive lack of self-pity. For the most part, this episode has Tommy simultaneously learning and ducking from the women in his life in a major way.

We also watch Tommy learn a little bit about respect from Black Shawn, who, in his gutsiest move to date, decides to marry Tommy's oldest daughter, Colleen, despite Tommy’s refusal to bless the union. It’s especially bold considering Colleen’s issues with alcoholism that still have Black Shawn nervous about committing to her. 

Despite all the drama and female hormones, this episode offers some quality male comic relief.

The NYFD’s yearly physical exam forces Tommy’s crew to think fast when it becomes apparent that Lou is not going to pass because of weight and health issues. To help out they decide to swap uniform shirts so each man takes a different part of the physical for him. And that’s how an overweight senior officer ends up with perfect blood pressure, a clean bill of health and a slight case of latent homosexuality (thanks to Mike’s performance on the physiological evaluation).

And while it seems crazy for Franco, Black Shawn, Mike and Garrity to risk termination only to enable Lou’s poor food choices, it’s their respect for him that compels them to put themselves on the line as if they were walking into a burning building together. Lucky for them, they literally get to do that by the end of the episode when they get called out to an actual fire -- a long-awaited opportunity to get back to work.

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Photo: Dennis Leary plays Tommy Gavin on "Rescue Me." Credit: FX

 

'Rescue Me' Recap: Tommy Gavin still doesn't like Tommy Gavin

Rescue me
Through six seasons of endless flames, fever dreams and family drama, the writers of FX’s “Rescue Me” never seem to run out of ways to make Tommy Gavin’s self worth go up in smoke. 

His embarassments usually have little to do with his role as a veteran, smack-talking New York firefighter. It’s the family drama that usually provides the most humiliation. Even then, it’s surprising in the first episode of the show’s final season how quickly Dennis Leary’s manhood gets thrown under the bus. Actually, it was his wife Janet’s mid-sized sedan.

Despite confronting Janet early on in the episode about their tangle of marital deception (including the pregnancy she hid from him at the end of last season), Gavin sees a new baby as a chance to put the pieces of his marriage back together. But according to Janet, their relationship doesn’t have a prayer unless he agrees to become a normal, full-time dad. At this point, she of all people should know that’s impossible given his track record. This time, Tommy’s squirmy deflection of her ultimatum was the last thing she wanted to hear.

That brings us to an important life lesson in this episode: never piss off a pregnant woman behind the wheel when you’re standing in front of her car.

But being run down by a car is nothing compared to the torture Tommy endures as he watches Sheila, his long time lover, mysteriously become gal pals with Janet as she gets close to her due date. That’s right—they’re actually friends now. What kind of parallel universe are we living in?

Somewhere in between the entire run of the seven-year the 5 month lapse in this episode where her pregnancy takes shape,the two women have not only bonded, they’ve become a double-headed hydra of emasculating inside jokes at Tommy’s expense. After years of doing it to him in separate houses, they've decided to create a merger with Sheila coming over to Janet and Tommy's place to help out around the house.

Meanwhile, Sheila’s son Damien—once a promising firefighter—remains nearly inanimate after a fire fighting accident last season turned him into a vegetable. As his uncle and voluntary care taker, Tommy’s feelings of guilt are getting more intense to the point where Damien has become another in a long line of loved ones who haunt his hallucinations.

Between bouts of anxiety over Damien and adjusting to the budding relationship between his wife and girlfriend, Tommy is also trying (and failing) to reconnect with his daughter Colleen as her Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor. It’s here where the genius of the Gavin family logic really shines through.

Since we last checked in on the bar owned by Tommy’s cousin Eddie, the lawyer in the family, it’s since changed hands to Teddy and Mick who’ve hired Colleen as their bar back. The hope is that working in a bar will temper her taste for alcohol by exposing her to it all the time. It almost sounds like a scheme Tommy would’ve come up with last season (considering the vodka baptism he gave Colleen at the end of last season). In this case, it’s nice to see him be the voice of reason who spots the obvious error in Teddy and Mick’s plan.

However, his finger-wagging only leaves him feeling snubbed by his daughter, who he can feel is gradually distancing himself from her. If he thinks he’s losing his little girl now, wait until he finds out that Black Shawn, Colleen’s boyfriend Tommy’s FDNY colleague, has made his relationship with his daughter official by popping the question in the bar stock room. Naturally, she celebrates the charming, awkward moment with four shots of whiskey and half a bottle of vodka after Black Shawn leaves.

But in the depths of self destruction, Colleen’s binge opens the door for Tommy to rediscover the gumption that redeems him for 40 minutes of acting like a spineless goof. Reinstating his bristling, no-nonsense attitude, the most powerful scene of the episode has him returning to the bar to drag his daughter off the backroom floor. He gets bonus points for standing up to the ghostly panel of his cousin Jimmy, his father and his brother Johnny who tempt him to take a drink--perhaps he's realized that a swig of whiskey stands between him and the family life he actually wants. But then again, it's only the first episode. There's probably still plenty of self-destruction left in Tommy's tank.

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Tweeter's Digest: Meltdowns, mourning and feuds in this week's celebrity Twitter round-up

Kirstie In Tweeter's Digest, we round up some of the events of the week as seen through the Twitter feeds of TV personalities. Celebs have finally gotten past the unifying topics of the last few weeks -- Charlie Sheen and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan -- and many have turned their attention back where it belongs: themselves. 

Of course, there were some water-cooler subjects to bring people together: the week started with "Seinfeld's" Jason Alexander (@ijasonalexander) and "Bones" producer Hart Hanson (@harthanson) weighing in on the mini-feud between James Franco and Oscar writer Bruce Vilanch, and ended with Kirstie Alley and George Lopez trading Twitter barbs after Lopez insulted her on his show. 

In between, Donald Glover of "Community" (@donaldglover) had some fun with Chris Brown's meltdown  on "GMA," "The Office" showrunner Michael Schur (@kentremendous) campaigned for Steve Carrell to get an Emmy, Michael Chiklis (@michaelchiklis) of "No Ordinary Family" and "The Shield" worried about Japan's nuclear reactors and Elizabeth Taylor was mourned by many.

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Tweeter's Digest archive

-- Joy Press

twitter.com/joypress

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