It's very rare for a TV series to lose its way several years into its life, and then come back with (in this case) a ferocious vengeance. Last year, Rescue Me (Tuesday night, 10pm on fX was foundering and lost. The series, which started as an inside look and homage to the humor and horror that NYC firemen (post 9-11) live every day, had gone off into a surreal, almost daytime soap opera zone that became, (even for this die hard fan) nearly unwatchable.
Thanks to Denis Leary's writing, producing and unfailing eye for the dark side of humor, Rescue Me is back. In fact, as a fan who has never missed a single episode, this is without question the best season ever.
The most recent episode, "Iceman", opened with the theatrical existentialism of Eugene O'Neil's The Iceman Cometh, where Tommy Gavin faced his demons and ghosts in a NYC bar. And it ended with more blood, fire, explosions, and drama than you would pay good money to see for one of those Jerry Bruckheimer action flicks at your local movie palace. In between, there was profane, swallow your tongue humor and...quite frankly...the best banter on TV.
Last week's episode found our beloved Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) tossing his AA chip for the siren call of ghosts and alcohol once again. This is not a new theme, and could have been tedious, except for a phenomenal moment between Tommy, and fellow firehouse buddy (and now room-mate) Lou. Confronting T. Gavin, Lou launches into a flaming put down of all his faults, and lays it on the line.
"Sober...you're a great fireman. And a selfish, spiteful, hit the nail on the head, no bullshit kind of guy. Drunk...you're a great fireman. And a selfish, spiteful, hit the nail on the head, no bullshit kind of guy. But funny. And I like funny."
This may be my favorite TV line of the season. Played by John Scurti (Lou), Shea is a revelation. He's a solid, hilarious, down-to-earth dude who seems more real than any other character on the series. I think he is sexy as hell, and I don't wonder why the mean French journalist was attracted to him. If she didn't give Lou a roll in the sheets, that's one more reason why folks here in the USA might resent the French. I hope Emmy award nominations are around the corner for both Denis Leary and Scurti this Fall.
This is superb television, and as we wait for some of our other favorites to come back, there isn't anything better on TV. Please visit the website too, as Denis Leary wants to funnel the recognition for this fantastic program into support for real life firefighters and their missions.