Category: Rescue Me

`Rescue Me:' The world is not cooperating

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After getting a verbal smack down from Franco about being a crappy father and husband, Tommy Gavin decides that just maybe it's time to clean up his act.

Of course nothing ever goes easy for Tommy. He earnestly tells his family he wants to "re-prioritize my priorities" and the reaction is not the warm embrace he expected. His oldest daughter Colleen, reeling from bad Chinese food and probably a hangover, vomits in front of him. Wife Janet shrugs off Tommy's new found earnestness and his effort to have a heart-to-heart with youngest daughter Katie backfires when they have a severe misunderstanding over a contest at school she is thinking about entering. Let's just say the contest she is talking about is rated PG while the one Tommy thinks she's going to take part in is straight out of "Gossip Girl."

Not discouraged by the poor results at home, Tommy calls his cousin Mickey and says he's ready to try Alcoholics Anonymous again and get sober. He then heads to the fire house to tell the crew he's done drinking. They don't exactly buy it. Black Shawn bursts out laughing and says, "you hear this bull----?" His nephew Damien, who Tommy -- per Damien's mom Sheila's instructions -- is trying to persuade to quit the job, decides if his uncle's not hitting the sauce, he must be popping pills.

Still reeling from his vision of hell, Tommy decides to confide to his best pal Kenny "Lou" Shea about what he saw. Privacy at the firehouse is a fantasy, and Mike, of the two resident dim bulbs (the other being Sean Garrity, not to be confused with Black Shawn) overhears the whole conversation and then tells everyone else about it.

After a brief debate about whether Tommy can get an exorcism, the crew drifts into one of their typically off-color discussion about how to get right with the man upstairs. Mike, it is determined, is screwed because of his brief flirtation with homosexuality. Sean decides he can make a better case for himself by cutting back on self-gratification. When he starts crunching the numbers though, it's all down hill.  First he decides to just please himself once every two days, then once every 36 hours and ultimately he's right back to once a day.

Our comic break done, Tommy heads home to try again with Janet, but she's not buying any of it.

"People can change," Tommy tells her.

"I hate what you've made me," she responds.

Clearly, he has a hard sell on his hands. Janet tells Tommy if he wants to make good he can stop Colleen from ending up as big a drunk as he is.

Tommy's idea to solve that problem is to indulge her hoping she'll get so sick she'll stop. He takes her to the crew's watering hold where they watch in amazement as Collen drinks everyone under the table.

"She's knocking them back like a Kennedy over there," Lou declares.

"As long as she doesn't drive like one," cracks Needles.

Since nothing he's trying is working and he's already blown off the AA meeting he promised Mickey he'd go to, Tommy does what comes naturally and gets himself a big old glass of whiskey. Well, if you can't beat em.

Unlike last week's season premiere, this week's episode of "Rescue Me" finds its old wit and rhythm. Tommy's struggles provides the darkness and the rest of the team kicks in with the jokes. Besides talking about how to get right with God, the squad is in a battle with a rival firehouse in the neighborhood. The city is threatening to shutter firehouses and Gavin's is first on the list. The unit needs to prove they are better than their neighbors to the south on the city's upper west side or they'll might be closed. In the weeks ahead, the battle between the two squads is going to get ugly and there may even be a little Romeo and Juliet subplot in the works. 

Other story lines to watch include the rising tension between Adam Ferrara's Needles and Jerry Adler's Feinberg over how the squad should save themselves. Lou looks like he is headed for some serious health problems while it turns out that Tommy may be right to be suspicious of Franco and Janet. Oh, and it is only a matter of time until Sheila has one of her vintage meltdowns.

When "Rescue Me" is on it is one of the smartest and meatiest dramas around. It's easy to forget that when so many recent episodes focus on Tommy's angst and self-medicating. Fortunately, it looks like Denis Leary and executive producer Peter Tolan are finding their groove again. I also realize that this show's sweet spot is humor far too bawdy for me to even attempt to detail here in these mini-reviews. Let's just say there are no unuttered thoughts in Truck 62's kitchen.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Franco and Tommy have a man-to-wannabe-man conversation. Credit: FX.


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`Rescue Me:' We make the Jacksons look like the Osmonds

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When we last left Tommy Gavin, the self-loathing narcissist fire fighter who is determined not only to ruin his life, but those of everyone who comes within 20 miles of him, he was lying the floor of his bar bleeding to death.

The blood was from a gunshot delivered courtesy of Tommy's Uncle Teddy, who, unable to accept his own role in the death of his wife Ellie (letting her get behind the wheel drunk), blames Tommy for not only falling off the wagon but taking the rest of the Gavin clan with him. On his way to the hospital, Tommy has a white light experience reuniting him with all 343 firemen who lost their lives during the September 11 attacks. But before he can get to heaven, he ends up in a much hotter place and that is enough to scare him back to life.

And so starts another year of FX's "Rescue Me." Denis Leary and his co-conspirator/executive producer Peter Tolan are back for their sixth season of angst, torment, rage, sex and satire. While always dark bordering on pitch black, "Rescue Me" also usually could be counted on for a fair amount of raunchy comedy as well. However, as the show, about of a group of New York City firefighters in trying to go on after September 11 winds down its mostly triumphant run, the laughs have become few and far between. 

That's too bad. At its best, "Rescue Me" combined the off-beat politically incorrect humor of "The Job," Leary and Tolan's grossly under appreciated ABC situation comedy with the grit Steven Bochco's "NYPD Blue." The show gave us a realistic look at firemen warts and all. Yes, they saved lives and made a difference, but they also lived hard.

The last few seasons though have become more about Tommy's drama at the expense of the rest of the crew. When he's not juggling multiple women who, of course, find his pain and desperation attractive and realize too late he's only out to take hostages and satisfy himself, he's putting his fellow firefighters at risk with his crazy antics. 

In the season premiere, those closest to Tommy seem to have had enough. Tommy sneaks out of the hospital early with a bag full of drugs. His cousin Mick, whose own sobriety went out the window last season, is now trying to climb those 12 steps again and doesn't want to put up with any more of Tommy's bull. He takes him to see Teddy who is also off the sauce and threatens Tommy if he drinks again. For most who try to get sober, the idea is to find a new happiness and freedom, for the Gavin clan, it's one more thing to be angry and bitter about. They are white knucklers who don't know how to surrender.

Tommy returns home where his ex-wife Janet is living with their two daughters Colleen and Katy. Like her father, Collen has turned into a full blown alcoholic in denial. Janet lets her drink at home and makes the same rule for Tommy.

But all Tommy cares about when he gets home is that his friend Franco was at the house helping out while he was in the hospital. Clearly Franco's motives can't be pure because if Tommy were in the same situation, his motives would most certainly not be pure. Tommy even tells Franco to stay away from his house and Franco shows great restraint by not punching Tommy out. 

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Callie Thorne gets to play with fire in 'Rescue Me'

Rescue-me If Callie Thorne’s Sheila Keefe had a theme song, it would be Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire."

The ode to flaming desire animates Thorne's character, who returns for her fifth season of FX's "Rescue Me," the testosterone-fueled dramedyabout a dedicated crew of emotionally flawed New York City firefighters. And, as always, her character, the perpetually high-strung widow of a firefighter killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is carrying a torch for her deceased husband's cousin, firefighter Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary).

Although most of the action of the series surrounds Gavin and his colleagues, Thorne, 39, has proved to be a reliable touchstone of the series, often stealing scenes from Leary and other cast members. Her Italian American character is known for throwing tantrums, flaunting her sexuality and relentlessly pursuing Tommy with various schemes that inevitably backfire.

(Photo by Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times) Read more Callie Thorne gets to play with fire in 'Rescue Me'

FX slates April 7 return for 'Rescue Me,' picks up sixth season

Learyweb FX has set an April 7 return date for Season 5 of Denis Leary's firefighter drama, "Rescue Me," but perhaps in bigger news for Leary, the network has preemptively ordered a sixth season of the show.

News of the early renewal is not all surprising. "Rescue Me" and "Nip/Tuck" are the network's strongest players. (A final season of "Nip/Tuck" has already been ordered;  the show will end in 2011.) In its fourth season, "Rescue Me" averaged 2.8 million viewers (1.9 million adults ages 18 to 49). That's almost triple the number of people who watched the most recent episode of FX's legal thriller starring Glenn Close "Damages" (941,000).

Of the early pickup, network President and General Manager John Landgraf said, " 'Rescue Me' is one of the very best series on television and a tentpole program for FX. We're amazed by the quality of episodes for the upcoming fifth season, which are some of the best they’ve ever produced. I believe this show will continue to maintain a level of excellence for several years to come, and we’re thrilled to pick it up for a sixth season."

The 22-episode fifth season will air its finale on Sept. 8. No word on when production begins on Season 6. FX said 18 episodes have been ordered.

To help juice interest in the series, which premiered in 2004, Leary will launch "The Rescue Me Comedy Tour," an 11-city set that will include stand-up from the actor, his "Rescue Me" costars Adam Ferrara and Lenny Clarke and other comics. The tour kicks off March 21 in Atlantic City, N.J.

— Denise Martin

Photo credit: FX

'Rescue Me': This is the end . . . for now

Rescueme1 Another season finale, another death in the Gavin family.

At least that's what I'm guessing happened. For all we know Tommy's dad just fell asleep at the minor league baseball game. Enduring the show's fourth season could do that to anybody.

It's disappointing to think of losing Charles Durning as a recurring part of the "Rescue Me" world. He was always good for an amusing line or two (especially when the writers extracted him from the painful Korean wife story line). In a brief moment of nostalgia at the game he even made Tommy smile — what a jarring but welcome moment that was for the perpetual cynic.

But given the state of the show, it doesn't matter much. After the abuse "Rescue Me" has inflicted on the fans all season long, it would be difficult for a single hour to make much difference.

I went over all of that last week, and with the finale behind us, it's time to move on. All we can do now is see how Denis Leary and Peter Tolan react to the widespread frustration with this season.

They're in a tough situation. Serial drama is easy enough to criticize but remarkably difficult to execute well. These guys have done it in the past, but can they do it again?

And an even more important question, will you be there to watch it?

-- Geoff Berkshire

(Photo courtesy FX)

'Rescue Me': S.O.S.

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So here we are. The second-to-last episode in the fourth season of "Rescue Me" has aired. And I'm speechless. Slightly confused. Maybe even a little bit depressed.

What went so wrong? How did this scrappy, frequently underappreciated little show turn into such a rambling mess? The storylines this season were alternately dull (Janet's depression; Tommy hates his daughter's boyfriend), ridiculous (the nympho nun), tiresome (every woman Tommy meets wants to sleep with him; Sheila's still crazy), extraneous (Uncle Teddy) and insulting (Tommy "seriously" considers killing the new baby). And all of them were drastically undercooked. I'm still waiting for the show to do something interesting with the new probie, "Black Sean" (Larenz Tate), and there's only one episode left.

Just last season, "Rescue Me" was riding high with smart arcs for great guest stars (Marisa Tomei and Susan Sarandon), a credible bout of sibling rivalry (Tommy and his dearly departed brother, Johnny), fresh and funny romantic developments (Franco fell in love, and Sean wooed Maggie) and provocative storylines (the infamous "rape").

This season we've endured countless scenes of the guys playing hockey. Just to mix it up, they played basketball.

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'Rescue Me': Whom are you trying to fool?

Last season on "Rescue Me," a rough sex scene between Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) and his estranged wife, Janet (Andrea Roth), left some viewers outraged and spurred a controversy over whether the act constituted rape or not.Rescueme_janet_baby_300_2

This week's episode seems to be aiming for a similar response by ending on an absurd, outrageous cliffhanger: Tommy holding a baby out over a river below, pondering whether to drop the child in. That baby, by the way, is either his or his brother's son with Janet (most likely his brother's, but no one knows for sure). But it isn't the paternity that placed him in that situation.

The convoluted soap opera dramatics that led Tommy to that place would baffle anyone who's not a regular viewer, but they are already understood by those who are. So let's deal with the creative decision to end the episode that way.

I think it's a load of crap.

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'Rescue Me': Stuck in a rut

Rescueme_denis_300_2 Is it just me or is nothing happening on "Rescue Me" lately?

Sure, Janet is severely depressed (but not because Sheila wants her baby, Janet doesn't know that yet), Sean accidentally set fire to Mike's house, Lou's nymphomaniac girlfriend can't go without sex for a minute (even if it means sleeping with Artie Lange...ick) and Franco finally proposed to his girlfriend.

And yet everyone, and everything, feels stuck in some kind of holding pattern.

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

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.

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'Rescue Me': Hail to the chief

Characters have died on "Rescue Me" before, but the show had never killed off one of its original cast members. Until now.

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Jack McGee has played Chief Jerry Reilly since "Rescue Me" premiered in 2004. A former firefighter off screen, McGee brought real-world credibility to his portrayal of a job veteran. He was the father figure, the sensible voice on a team of very human buffoons and screw-ups.

But on this week's episode Reilly killed himself with a gunshot to the head.

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'Rescue Me': Does it have free checking?

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It’s been almost 15 years (!) since the legendary “Seinfeld” episode “The Contest” introduced the phrase “master of your domain” to the pop culture lexicon. So it’s about time for another TV take on masturbation. This week, “Rescue Me” served up something equally memorable, if significantly raunchier: the “spank bank.”

As introduced by porn-lovin’ Maggie Gavin (Tatum O’Neal), it’s a mental filing cabinet of people and images stored for later…use. Of course, “Rescue Me” didn’t invent the spank bank (there’s also a reference to it in “The 40-Year Old Virgin”), but this week’s episode was probably the most extensive discussion of the concept yet in entertainment.

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'Rescue Me': Complexity and the city

Rescueme290 Something was lost in all the hubbub over “Rescue Me’s” third season—the one that included Tommy Gavin’s “rape” of his estranged wife Janet, Tommy’s own “date rape” courtesy of wildly unstable sometimes girlfriend Sheila, an extreme case of sibling rivalry that led to Tommy beating his brother to a pulp and a further exploration of one of the series’ favorite topics, homosexuality, via the young “probie” officer uncomfortably flirting with bisexuality.

Lost among all the button-pushing and FX-network-appropriate edginess was just how beautifully the show’s ensemble cast had gelled, how the writing had grown tighter and sharper and how proficient everyone involved had become with the complex mix of comedy and drama. The potential had always been there, but last season “Rescue Me” finally emerged as “Sex and the City” with a Y-chromosome and the occasional elaborate pyrotechnic sequence. (In case you’re wondering, that’s a good thing.)

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