Last night’s Rescue Me (small-ish spoilers follow) was the first I’d watched since the first mega-batch of season 5 screeners arrived from FX months ago, and I’m going to try to watch the remaining ones in something a little closer to real time to keep up with them for Tuned In. To say that an episode, or a season, of Rescue Me is uneven is sort of a redundancy—in a way, that’s the point of the show. When a show goes for the kind of combination of comedy and drama—not in a sappy “dramedy” way, but a jarring contrast of broad comedy and stark drama—it’s inevitable going to sound some off notes.
There are things I can do without this season; for instance, Tommy’s endless repeating of his old patterns with Sheila. But his willful, and probably misguided, decision that he can handle drinking again has me interested. And last night’s scenes with cancer-stricken Sean, his mother and his self-involved brother were both funny and moving. (Something about the petty sibling rivalry really rang true; Rescue Me is a show that has always understood that family crises don’t automatically put the little fights into perspective, but instead often exacerbate them.) And Sean’s mother’s revelation about surviving her own cancer was a pitch-perfect example of the show’s unsentimental, urban-Irish-American tone.
This show is sprawling and messy and leaves more loose threads than a sweater run over by a lawn mower, but I’m still grateful we have something so distinctive and idiosyncratic on the air; nothing else on TV sounds like Rescue Me, and for all its faults the show knows its voice. Anyone here still following?