NNWIJ: Rescue Me (2004-2011)

Creator: Denis Leary/Peter Tolan

Notable Cast: Denis Leary, Jack McGee, Michael Lombardi, Steven Pasquale, Daniel Sunjata, John Scurti, Andrea Roth, Adam Ferrara, Larenz Tate, Michael Zegen, Tatum O’Neal, Lenny Clarke, Robert John Burke, Callie Thorne

Rating: TV-MA

Review: I don’t get it?  When can I watch Tommy again?  Where can I learn more of Franco’s suave lady-killing moves?  How can I witness Mikey and Garrity’s IQ drop even lower?  Seven seasons and almost 100 forty five minute episodes later, and I’ve seen 62 truck extinguish its last flaming building.  A sad day considering the investment I made in each and every character.  Finishing that last episode and watching “Rescue Me” come full circle left a gigantic empty hole in the pit of my stomach, knowing I’d reached the absolute end.  Excuse me, I need a moment of silence…. …. ….. Ok, composure, and we’re back.  “Rescue Me” was special because I’ve never seen a show so offensive yet moving be able to drag in all demographics.  While watching, my mom became addicted in passing, as well as my dad, bridging the generation gap.  Here’s the gang talking about “hot pussy” and using racial slurs, and my mom is glued to the seat.  My mom, the one who tries to defend movies like “The Bounty Hunter,” is the one furious I watched the season finale without her.  But why?
Because “Rescue Me” had balls.  Big, ambitious, cocky, confident balls.  Leary dealt with real emotions, from real people, circling one of the most devastating tragedies to hit US soil.  The script evolved our characters as more and more time passed from the incident, years later still showing after effects regarding the men and women who risked their lives both before and after 9/11.  Not only that, but “Rescue Me” showed the best gritty portrayal of brotherhood and comradery one could imagine, as each character held every other life in their hands.  You had no choice but to trust those around you, building a bond as strong as family when you finally surround yourself with that perfectly acknowledged group.  This built for not only hilarious exchanges in the firehouse and crazy boyhood scenarios, but moments of raw emotion and rage when heads butt, attacking those we love even harder.  Then mix in Tommy’s dysfunctional and alcoholic family and the constant back and forth battle with booze, you couldn’t help but tune in every week just to see who was back on the wagon.
A family member put it best, calling “Rescue Me” a soap opera for men, filled with nothing but gossip, sex, and feelings…mixed with the blatant honesty of firemen that is.  Each character brought something unique to 62 truck, and that’s what will stick with me the most.  Leary’s main character Tommy Gavin wasn’t even my favorite character though, that honor going to Kenny “Lou” Shea.  John Scurti was not only hilarious, but showed how a man could be hard as we’ll as soft, being the epitome of an “everyday hero.”  Don’t get me wrong, every character was phenomenal, and each side story was just as engaging as the next, but Tommy’s highs and lows in particular were unbelievable to watch.  For the longest time all “Rescue Me” seemed to be was a competition season to season to see how deranged and horrible Tommy could become.  Alcoholism, adultery, renegade antics, politically incorrect sentiments, and a huge mouth only got him in more and more trouble even when trying to do good.  But to combat all that negativity, moments of clarity and shame would shine through, and we would wonder if finally our superhero firefighter could see the error in his ways.  The earlier seasons tended to stress comedy over all, but the final two seasons took a dark and heartfelt turn, letting the big bad emotional world take over for Tommy.  Much more compelling than expected as well.
The evolution of 62 truck from episode 1 to 93 was an experience I would re-watch again in a heartbeat.  No joke, I would restart “Rescue Me” right now if a newbie was interested in being showed.  Also, with all this talk about reviving completed shows with a film (“Entourage”/”Arrested Development”), I would love to see a “Rescue Me” film now that all characters have taken their next big step in life.  And imagine what the creators could get away with on the big screen, given the already lax censorship by FX?  But that won’t happen, and we’re left to assume everyone learned a valuable lesson over the last 7 years and are changed men for it.  Betting on past occurrences, you can’t help but wonder the goofy scenarios that still await our band of fire eating friends though.  For now, if you haven’t indulged yet in Leary’s anti-hero/hero piece, there’s no better time to start.  Real people, a real profession, real lifestyles, real emotion…”Rescue Me” is a sure-fire winner.

Netflix Rating: 5/5


About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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