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July 23, 2004


Rescue Me

Our old friend Denis Leary has a new show that you've almost definitely heard about: Rescue Me on FX (flash site). The show is getting a lot of attention by the same critics who loved his last show, The Job, which ABC ran into the ground after only 19 episodes. The Job was one of our very favorite shows, so we're excited to see Denis back with co-creator Peter Tolan for another show that explores almost exactly the same themes through similar people, but with a totally different result.

Leary and Tolan originally conceived of the show as a movie, but had faith in FX to give them the kind of latitude they wanted; for example, they can say "shit" a whole lot, and suggest some graphic violence and the kinds of horrible injuries that are related to major fires. The setting of the show is much like that of The Job. Denis Leary's character, Tommy Gavin, is similar to the Mike McNeil character: a bitter Irish-American whose life is his work (as a firefighter or a detective), has a failing marriage, and is at some stage of dealing with a drinking problem. The characters in both shows are emotionally unavailable to their families, in this case because of the incredible demands of being a firefighter. Themes similar to those in The Job are coming later in the season, like suspicions around the job that some of the guys are gay.

The styles of the two shows are almost identical, and the sardonic, dark comedy is common to both. The characters in The Job were sharp, caustic guys whose problems were mainly the source material for jokes, but the firefighters in Rescue Me are a whole different story. The devastation of September 11 on top of their already terrifying and often deadly day-to-day lives has left a lot of them shell-shocked and barely able to function. Rather than go crazy or quit, many of them drink, destroy their relationships, or cry while writing eulogistic poetry. It's like M*A*S*H, but with funnier jokes, more swearing, and deeper emotional scars.

Since this show is part of a very small family of high quality shows, it might have a chance of survival. The FX site lists 13 upcoming episodes, and our other old pal Lenny Clarke is coming on the show soon. My only regret is that The Job wasn't picked up by a cable network in the first place; if they had gotten away with some of the dirtier jokes that the censors at ABC didn't pass, that show would have been unstoppably funny.

categories: TV
posted by amy at 10:28 AM | #