Tommy Gavin is a lifesaver. Whether he is pulling survivors from fiery high-rise infernos or the twisted steel of a subway collision, Gavin takes great pride in leading the heroic but often overwhelmed firefighters o... more »f New York City's Truck Company 62. Gavin (Denis Leary) is also a man drifting between sorrow and anger over a recent separation from his wife (Andrea Roth) and three kids, and recurring memories of comrades and New Yorkers fallen victim. Leary and multiple Emmy Award-winning writer-producer Peter Tolan (The Larry Sanders Show, Murphy Brown), the team behind the critically-acclaimed cop drama The JobRescue Me.« less
Brent A. Anthonisen | Alpharetta, GA, USA | 05/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Denis Leary has been one of my favorite comedians since the Cindy Crawford-obsessed, rapid-fire riffs on MTV ages ago. Even though (on some level perhaps even because) the Bill Hicks Preservation Society as a whole has dedicated their lives to reminding anyone who will listen that Leary's entire career as a stand-up comedian was based on ripping off (if not actually doing) Hicks' act, Leary is still intriguing because the personae you see onstage (and in such recorded classic songs such as "@$$hole") is so completely different than the life the man actually leads. He's a devoted family man who spends a heckuva lot of time working with local charities, most famously the Cam Neely Foundation.
Which is the precise personality brought to this made-for-late-night basic cable series; what we have on the surface appears to be a heartfelt tribute to "New York's Bravest", the Fire Department of New York City. And in many ways it is, but in much the same way "Slap Shot" is to professional hockey or "North Dallas Forty" did for pro football. It's very much a locker room's view of things, most definitely a more honest portrayal of the occupation than you'd see in the more traditional "Emergency!" series or the big-screen actioner from Ron Howard "Backdraft".
The paradox of this series is that the profession is typically portrayed (properly so) as modern-day knights in shining armor, but the men who wear the armor as being frequently less than chivalrous in nature; indeed, there are elements of every single character in this show that are impossible to warm up to; Denis Leary's Tommy Gavin, whom I want very much to like, is one of the more dispicable characters ever portrayed in series TV. To say that he is complex is an understatement; he is a living, breathing contradiction, Leary's own life as a comedian/family man encapsulated here. It's a terrific portrayal of someone who has lost the way, with a fall either into the oblivion of madness or the damnation of utter darkness awaiting him; the longer you watch the show you just know that there is no way things are going to end well for him. You want them to; he's Denis Leary, he makes you laugh. But at the same time every time you want to get close he does something to drive you away and himself closer to the inevitable end that awaits.
And the thing is, every other character in this show is the same way. There's not a designated "heavy" character to foil the protagonists; in this show, EVERYONE is Frank Burns/Charles Winchester. No one is entirely (or even remotely) pure of heart, and if you're expecting a routine dose of heroism, you're in the wrong place. "Rescue Me" takes the viewer to a dark place, where light and reverence are rare commodities, and where reality is a brutal place where heroes are often revealed as being only human, and sometimes even less. The fact that the show is completely watchable and the fastest hour on TV these days speaks volumes of the talent of the producers and the actors. Despite everything, you still end up caring about these people and desperately want to see them stop their respective freefalls. Even though you know they can't/won't, you know you're going to tune in again next week. Great stuff."
4.5 stars for the show + half for the theme song
Wheelchair Assassin | The Great Concavity | 07/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With the reality TV glut mercifully showing signs of abating, it looks like there could be a new flourishing of quality scripted TV, and FX's Rescue Me deserves to be at the forefront of any such charge. Much has been made of the complex, extended storylines incorporated by so many shows in the past decade or so (e.g., Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, ER, etc. etc. etc.), and this one is no exception, but it still deserves credit for its boldness, realism, and skillful avoidance of predictability. Surprised as I was to realize it about halfway through the season, Rescue Me reminds me a great deal of a show I used to watch with my wife back when we were engaged, also known for its odd poignancy, its emphasis on bonding and complicated relationships, its bawdy set pieces, and its heavy use of New York City as an ancillary character. Yes, that's right, at bottom Rescue Me has a great deal in common with Sex in the City, except with a lot more fires and death.
It becomes apparent pretty quickly in the premiere episode of this show that it's not the politically correct post-9/11 tribue to firefighters that one might be given to expect. In the opening few minutes, we see Denis Leary's Tommy Gavin having the first of many lenghty coversations with his cousin and best friend Jimmy, which wouldn't be all that unusual if Jimmy hadn't been killed in the World Trade Center attacks. It's only about five minutes later that another firefighter complains about the decline in his level of action (only he uses a much more explicit word) as the memory of the attacks fades. As introductions go, it's a pretty appropriate one.
Things don't go too far uphill from there. Filled with realistic dialogue and compelling performances, Rescue Me strips away the layers of adulation that have surrounded firefighters since 9/11 and reveals them as what they are: people doing a job. Yes, they might be braver than most, but the firefighters depicted here are still flawed, multifaceted characters faced with all the recurring problems and bad habits of real people. This is intelligent, challenging stuff, and while it can get a bit sensationalistic, it's considerably more grounded in reality than, say, Nip/Tuck. At its best, it's a savagely funny, darkly moving testament to the chaotic tragicomedy that is our existence.
This first season is some of the most compulsively watchable television around, becoming as addictive as a crack habit as it careens from one compelling plot line to another, combining its delirious vulgarity with an almost total lack of romance. One of the show's underlying themes is the idea that people crazy enough to run into burning buildings for a living might not be entirely stable in their personal lives, and one of the most endearing qualities of Rescue Me is the way it manages to capture its characters at both their strongest and their most vulnerable. Even during the more emotionally charged plot threads-the fallout from Chief Riley's beating of a gay ex-firefighter; Lieutenant Shea's poetry writing; Franco's discovery that he has a five-year old daughter; the introduction of a woman into the house-Rescue Me exhibits a noble refusal to give in to sentiment. With few exceptions, the characters here don't have grand epiphanies or act in completely contradictory ways from episode to episode and they certainly don't always do the right thing; they're presented as is, with all the nagging inconsistencies associated with our species.
Leading the way is Leary as the protagonist Tommy, a walking contradiction whose dedication to his job and his family is matched by his anger, self-destructiveness, and guilt. Tommy talks to the ghosts of the people he's seen killed; cheats on his semi-estranged wife when he's not tormenting her yuppie boyfriend; drinks compulsively; and starts an ultra-illegal affair with the widow of the aforementioned Jimmy, and all along it's nearly impossible to stop watching him. With Leary clearly having fun snarling and shouting his way through the role, Tommy easily makes for one of the more compelling anti-heroes in TV history, especially when he begins his major downward spiral in the season's final few episodes. While Tommy's (and the show's) excesses can get a bit numbing after a while (do firefighters really score as much as these guys do, or talk about it as explicitly?), in the end it's all part of the fun. For those poor souls who can't afford HBO (this writer included), Rescue Me is about as daring and fascinating a show as you're likely to find on cable. Oh, and the Von Bondies' Come On, Come On makes for quite possibly the single best introductory song in TV history, having managed to make Rescue Me the one show whose opening credits I always make it a point to watch.
Denis Leary? Genius? Who Knew?
Mark F. Brady | fort lauderdale, florida, usa | 06/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having seen seven or eight of the Rescue Me epispodes on Cable's FX channel, in various orders, I was blown away by the gritty, comic, tragic stories linking the all too human dysfunctional lives of seven "crew" members of an upper Manhattan FDNY Ladder Company. Viewing all 13 episodes in chronological order yesterday in the recently released Season One DVD collection, in one sitting, was an experience I will not soon forget. Leary's comedic and dramatic career has always been a seeming grab for the brass ring, with spotty commercial success. His last two efforts, the hilariously politically incorrect ABC mid season replacement series "The Job", and now, Rescue Me, put him in a very exclusive company of talent who can take a concept, and bring it to artistic life, and deliver a grand slam. The opening scene of episode one, finds Leary's character, Tommy Gavin, trapped in his smoke filled bathroom at home while a fire rages outside the door. Poof. It is a dream. Jump Cut to Gavin addressing a graduating class of "Probies", fresh new firemen awaiting assignnment. "Want to know how big my balls are? My balls are bigger than any of your two heads duct taped together" Informing them that the process of probation is not to making "heroes", but discovering cowards, (he refers to them as "Pussies") he brags "There ain't no medals on my chest". Gavin then startlingly, and touchingly recounts to the new graduates the stories of four lost firemen that perished at Ground Zero on 9/11. The camera pans back to a shot, showing the probational firemen standing at attention in military formation, the trainees teacher commanding them to "SAY THANK YOU FIREFIGHTING CLASS!" as Leary salutes them with a middle finger. Climbing into his Ford Pickup, (fire engine red, of course), he is greeted by his dead cousin and best friend Jimmy Keefe, who thanks him for the touching eulogy, but counters by adding, "Those Probies wouldn't think you were such a tough guy if they knew you were talking to a dead guy, but......." Leary reveals his character immediately , stumbling over words to answer his dead cousin, he looks over, to find him disappeared as fast as he appeared. What does one say to a nagging ghost? "A**hole!" Over the next 13 episodes this documentary style shot series feeds us real life views of the ladder company's crew members takes on life, marriage, sex, homosexuality, honor, dating and family. We are introduced to an endless stream of characters, insightfully portrayed. Adorable children, vengeful ex girlfriends, bookies, bartenders, crackheads, lecherous uncles, gamblers, horny widows, violent monkeys, defecating poodles, as well as the ghosts of dead fireman and deceased "10-45's", people that Tommy Gavin was unable to "grab" before their death, all spun into Gavin's "Secret Evil Plan" to regain the love of his soon to be ex wife, Janet. This is not so much a review, but an open letter to Denis Leary, thanking him for the joy of allowing me to be enchanted by his dis-enchanted world. By seeing the world through his dysfunctional Irish American eyes, I was overwhelmed by a sense of nostalgia (literally "reliving the pain")of my own life, and am profoundly grateful for every laugh and smile this televised comedic, and dramatic work of genius brought to me."
shrike | USA | 01/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great Acting, great, casting, great show.
As for the comments from 'Professor Moriarty "Evil Genius"': I am a video professional, one that deals with all sorts of video for a living, every day, and I honestly do not know what he (she) is talking about. I have several DVD's in my collection that I would submit with worse compression & artifacts than this set. Artifacts & compression CAN be an issue with DVD's these days, but this series is just fine (note: I have an HD upconvert player with a VERY nice television). Maybe you did have some problems with your setup, because this collection looks fine. Buy this series, or at the very least give it a rent. Wonderful."