Wednesday, July 20, 2005

My Favorite Hour of the Week

I'm almost embarrassed about how much I enjoy Rescue Me and continually go on about it, but there's simply no denying how much I look forward this fantastic show every week.

Produced and written by the brilliant Denis Leary, and Peter Tolan, his partner from their prime-time show "The Job" a couple years back, the razor-sharp writing of this show's second season on FX gets blacker, funnier and more emotionally charged with every episode. The real-life salty, witty, and often politically incorrect dialogue benefits from a 10pm cable slot that finds me laughing out loud or cringing in horror while replaying scenes several times.

Focusing on Leary's character, Tommy Gavin, and how his life has changed as a NYFD veteran in the two+ years after the events of 9/11, "Rescue Me" presents Gavin and his fellow firefighters as terrifically flawed human beings, who sometimes find themselves doing heroic things. This year's season finds Tommy trying to fake his way through quitting drinking; searching the country for his kids after his wife has fled with them; dealing with his father and unexpected new family members; and all the while he's receiving surreal visits from Jesus and his cousin/best friend who died on 9/11. Tommy's a guy you should hate with all his flaws, piggish and self-destructive ways. Yet Leary has come into his own as an actor, way beyond the ironic comedy routines he was once known for, by portraying Tommy as a guy who's just trying to survive, always almost cracking apart beneath the brash swagger.

Certainly firefighters shows have been done to death, but this is one that is leaps and bounds beyond what you are used to seeing on TV. The easy-on-the-eyes players (Dean Winters, Daniel Sunjata, Steven Pasquale) sure don't hurt it, either.

Tuesdays, 10pm on FX (Channel 58 in Brooklyn's Time Warner). First season available on DVD.

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