Rescue Me: From 'hero' to 'zero' in six episodes!

I didn’t put this in any of the other threads, since it seems like you guys are talking spoilers about the 2006 season. I’m way behind. I just rented the first season and loved the pilot. But I’ve been increasingly disappointed with each successive episode.

I really like the ensemble feel, and Dennis Leary’s asshole stand-up guy/anti-hero is a great anchor for them, struggling as he is with ghosts (literally) and demons (figuratively). The storyline seemed like it was going to have some real bite, with a candid portrait that accepts racism, homophobia, and misogyny as just the way people talk when they’re not worried about bettering society.

I liked the way it was about the firemen and not the fires they were putting out and people they were rescuing. When I was a kid, I used to love a show called, I think, Emergency, but IIRC, every episode was firemen solving three minor mishaps, each with its own guest star and fifteen minute segment. In between each segment, there’s a little firemanly banter at the station. Then there’s a big fire to end the show before scenes from next week.

Rescue Me seemed the opposite. It’s about these guys at work rather than the work itself.

But then, as the season goes on, it’s like they’re bringing in new writers, or trying to push the comedy, or drawing out the soap opera aspect, or some such pitfall of episodic TV. Because I really started to hate where it was going.

I was okay with the Hispanic fireman discovering he had a daughter, and I was kind of even willing to go along with Dennis Leary’s daughter getting in a car wreck that he’s called out for. Okay, so the fireman who beats up a gay man has a gay son. Yeah, convenient. But okay, we’ve got a full season to sustain here.

But the moment where it really jumped the crappy TV shark was the group therapy meeting with the poetry-writing fireman. The way that scene was played to ridicule the people weeping about 9/11 officially left the domain of the thoughtful and veered into sneering sitcom territory. Then they start measuring their dicks (yuk yuk, dude’s penis is caught in a cockring!), rescuing cute little daughters from evil foster parents (awww, it’s just like Little Miss Marker, but with NYFD), and engaging in shenanigans where the ex-wife comes in while the new girlfriend is upstairs (d’oh! When do the John Ritter pratfalls start?). Whoops, Dennis Leary is sleeping with the ghost’s wife and he almost got busted! Ha ha! Hey, look, they’re all bending the therapist’s ear instead of working on his porch! Hyuk! Ha ha, that dude’s going out with a transvestite! Fireman sure are wacky!

I think the final straw was the direction the show took with Charles Durning as Dennis Leary’s father. There was a pretty cool moment in episode 2, I think, when Durning and Leary had a subtitled phone conversation. It wasn’t too much because it was used sparingly. A stylized point was made that these men don’t emotionally connect and then the season moved on. But it moved on to Charles Durning and wacky Uncle Teddy in a house full of old whores chasing a monkey around and giving it amphetamines. WTF? Fear and Loathing in New Jersey?

So I’m eight episodes in and I’m wondering if I should bother finishing up the first season. Does this crap go on, or does it clean up its act? Because if there’s more dick-measuring, monkey-chasing, porch-building, and tranny-mishaps, I’d just as soon move on to the next thing in my Netflix queue.


If you don’t like the methed up monkeys and crazy bullshit soap opera shit, stop now. However, I happen to enjoy the shit out of all that stuff, so I’m in heaven.

Even today, Emergency! is an entertaining piece of Jack “Dragnet” Webb television.

For some damn reason, my favorite part of the show was the three SCU tones at the begining of the incoming radio emergency calls.

I couldn’t agree more with Tom. I did the same thing. I got about halfway through the first season and then realized there is a lot more stuff in my Netflix queue that I would rather be watching. I’m bummed about it because I just got done with all of the Shield DVDs and I was looking forward to plowing through another entire series. So, I am moving on to either The Wire or Oz.

Season 2 is absolutely brilliant. It does get better. And there are some really poignant “ghost” moments next season as well. Also, one of the best beatings you will ever see on TV.

Totally. I loved Emergency! and also that one-Adam-twelve cop show that was like its policey brother. Although I haven’t clicked either of Derek’s links, I know that three-tone emergency call by heart (“Station 51! Station 51!” ahh the memories…)

I really agree with Tom. The first season started out great but IMHO it slid down fast and then when the second season rolled around it was ok but it wasnt as great as the first season.

Now The shield just rocks.

spoilers below

> But I’ve been increasingly disappointed with each successive episode

Agree. The show is fairly original and definitely worth watching for at least the first season. But it’s repetitive. All that stuff that felt so cool and original in the first season gets really old by the end of the second season. The writers don’t seem to know where to go, and keep rolling out the same old shtick episode after episode.

Also the cheap yet oh-so-convenient shock plot twists get REALLY tiresome (cf, the fire at the end of this season, the son dying at the end of last season, etc). Although we were ecstatic the Police brother character was killed off because he’s such an unbelievably, painfully bad actor.

FWIW, I don’t believe answering a “should I continue to watch this” thread with spoilers about stuff that happened a season away is a good idea.

I’m with BaconTastesGood. I love the show. Maybe it loses something when you don’t have a week between episodes to digest everything? However, I haven’t seen the radical shift that Tom’s talking about. The comedic elements are welcome because the drama is so intense at times. I relate to much of the humor because it has a distinctly New York neighborhood feel to it. I see it as a bunch of guys who have to deal with misery and death on a daily basis, trying to keep it light in between all the heart ache.

I think taking comedy out of Denis Leary’s shtick is never a good thing. If taken too seriously he’s a humorless prick. Playing up the attitude in ridiculous situations makes it far more tolerable. I’m glad I stuck with the show through the second season.

You can’t NOT like Emergency. It has Randolph Mantooth in it.

All due respect Tom, but you hated the US The Office for the first six episodes, as well.


As a child, I subsisted on cartoons, MASH, Emergency and 1-Adam-12.

I enjoy Rescue Me, but it has its problems. The ghost aspect treads frequently into pure silliness. Leary’s character’s hallucinatory Post-Traumatic Plot Device Disorder is nonexistant as a real-life disorder. Six Feet Under, another ambitious show that tripped over itself a few times, handled it a hell of a lot better. I still remember watching Rescue Me and at one point going Wait a goddamned minute. He’s really manifesting these people? The dead people he could not save following him around are one thing (a thing which is awesome), but as Tom said, the wacky hijinx with his dead cousin are moronic. They should just have had his cousin watching Leary make love to his wife, just standing there mute in the corner staring at him.

Contrary to Tom, though, I’d rather it was more about firefighting. Yeah, I know firefighters don’t fight fires nonstop all day long, but ER docs don’t yell at each other while saving car crash victims all day long, either. Rather, at all. A higher frequency of fires would be the least egregious expressions of artistic license for this show.

And the show definitely gets too serious for itself, and Leary comes off as nearly intolerably loathesome as a result. The Shield’s Vic Mackey is as antihero as you can get (and sometimes, it’s hard to reconcile Good Mackey with Bad Mackey), but his badness has this gleefully evil edge to it. A lot of it gets taken out on the bad guys, to. Leary’s doesn’t, and he has no bad guys to catch. He came off way better as essentially the same character in his former show, The Job, which was awesome.

I still like the show, but it’s just not doing things the way I’d like them to be done, and I’m pretty forgiving of ambitious shows.

> but you hated the US The Office for the first six episodes,

That’s different. The US Office didn’t hit its stride until the last half of the season. There’s a clear distinction between the early episodes and the later ones.

I just started watching season 2 without watching season 1, so maybe that’s the trick. It seems pretty good to me. Maybe 90% of The Shield.


This is completely false.

I hate the Office after 2 seasons too…

I liked Rescue Me at first too, but I eventually just deleted them from the TiVo, pretty much for the same reasons. We left reality, and entered crazy soap opera land.

Now that I’m halfway through the third season, I’m swinging the other way. The Shield is great because they’re constantly fighting the fallout from a single bad incident, in realistic ways. Rescue Me is randomly inserting bad incidents which are solved in an episode, either by drinking, screwing, or killing. The zombies never really bothered me, but the desperation of the screenwriters is turning me off something fierce.



Yeah, but there’s little interplay or human dynamic there.