I haven’t written about Rescue Me since it returned, and haven’t much for the past couple of seasons, mainly because I think I’m beyond the point where I can watch the show as a series per se. At this point, it’s more like a workshop, a kind of weekly project in which the Denis Leary / Peter Tolan repertory company get together to put on a collection of scenes about flawed men and their passions—some comedic, some dramatic, some amazing, some awful.
And I’m OK with that. Tolan and Leary have been doing a rare thing in TV, in mashing up intense drama with slapstick comedy and in pushing the unlikeability of Tommy Gavin, even by FX antihero standards. I hope they always have a space on TV to do this.
That said, I’m starting to look forward to their next series after Rescue Me. While last night’s “Blackout” had examples of the show at its unflinching best (like drunk Tommy’s repudiation of his dead son), it also returned to a lot of awfully familiar scenes and themes. Tommy is drinking again, again. Tommy is furious and smashing up a room, again. Tommy has finally hit bottom, again. Taken as a series of set pieces there’s a lot of really impressive work; taken as, well, a series, I’m having a hard time investing in it.
That said, I’m still hoping that the looming end of the series (the plan is for it to go out next year, around the 10th anniversary of 9/11) will invigorate the show and that it’ll finish strong, not having to spin its story out further. So I’ll keep checking in.
Tolan and Leary explored this territory in The Job (policemen) and then Rescue Me (firefighters). What should they turn to next? Sanitation workers?