Okay, I think I may be quits with "Rescue Me." Thoughts on why, including spoilers for episode four and some non-spoilery thoughts on next week's episode, coming right up...
In the mad rush to get ready for press tour, I saw that FX had sent me the next two episodes, and I watched them both in hopes of doing some advance blogging. Instead, they left me feeling so empty that I didn't feel compelled to write about them for days afterward. I'm not mad the way I was after Tommy raped Janet. I'm not offended. I just don't care anymore, and I think that's on the show as much as, if not more than, it's on me.
In the middle of the otherwise contentions TWoP feature on Jack McGee's departure, Peter Tolan explained that they killed off Jerry because they wanted something that would shake up the other characters. Leaving aside the theory that drama works better when it flows out of the characters instead of outside forces, Jerry's death feels especially cheap now because almost no shaking up takes place. There was some nice work on the opening montage, and on Lou's speech about Sean being too young to understand why Jerry might have done it, and then... nothing. Aside from some talk later in this episode and in next week's show (mostly jokes) about what to do with the cremains, it's like Jerry never existed. None of the characters' actions and reactions are informed by his death. I don't want to take sides in the McGee/Leary feud, but thus far it's playing out like they just wanted to be rid of the guy as quickly as possible.
If it was just the non-impact of the Chief's death, I might be willing to stick around, but that's just a symptom of a much larger problem. On this show, it seems like nothing impacts on anything anymore. "Rescue Me" is just a jumble of scenes -- some funny, some dramatic, some lame -- that all feature the same characters but have little connection to one another. The firefighting scene where the guys get lost was one of the more unnerving ones they've ever done, but it takes place in complete isolation, not affecting the characters in any way after it's over. You could chop it out, or reshuffle every scene into random order, and very little of the episode would feel different.
When I suggested at the start of the season,that the show might be better off dropping the dramatic angle and turning into a straight up comedy, it was more because the dramatic parts weren't working than because the comic parts were so great (aside from the occasional kitchen scene or good line by John Scurti). And now I'm not even really laughing at the comedy. Tommy and Janet's couples therapy session was painful (not to mention fourth wall-breaking, since Tommy putting quote marks around "the rape" was Leary referring to all the real world discussion of that scene, as opposed to how it played out in the reality of the show), the Nona storyline continues to make no sense except as an ego trip, and certain characters like the retarded brother and Uncle Teddy (who's back next week) just need to go away.
If it seems like I'm being overly harsh after an episode that has a few very good sequences (again, the opener and the fire), it's because I've seen next week, which is even dumber and more disjointed. There's still just enough solid material that I expect to stick it out through the end of the season, but with press tour about to consume my every waking moment for a few weeks, I don't think I'm going to feel compelled to carve out spare time to blog on this show for a while.
What did everybody else think?