Tuesday, April 07, 2009

'Rescue Me' season five review - Sepinwall on TV

In today's column, I review the new season of "Rescue Me," which is much improved (mostly) from last season, when I gave up midway through:
"I don't have any regrets," firefighter Tommy Gavin explains midway through the fifth season of "Rescue Me." "I don't live my life that way."

Tommy may not have regrets for all his terrible behavior, but he does seem to recognize that it was wrong and that he has to try to live a better life -- a philosophy very much shared by his real-life alter ego, "Rescue Me" star/writer/producer Denis Leary.
You can read my "Rescue Me" review here. After the jump, some specifics on how I'm going to blog the show this year, since I watched it under unusual circumstances.

Basically, I was done with "Rescue Me," but when I was at press tour in January, a friend whose opinion I trust gave me the season's first 8 episodes and insisted that it was much improved. And then, when I complained about the first episode being more of the same junk that made me quit on the show in the first place, he assured me that things would get better, and soon.

Long story short, I listened to his pleas and eventually powered my way through the first five or so episodes and saw that my friend was right (though, as I note in the column, the season doesn't really get going until around week 4). But I was watching them at odd hours, and not taking notes, and while I liked some of them, I didn't like them enough to want to find the time to rewatch them now for proper long-form blogging. I've since watched episodes 6-9 while taking some notes.

So here's the deal: every Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning, depending on my schedule), I'm going to have up some kind of post to allow people to discuss the early episodes, and if I remember a specific detail or three I want to highlight, I'll do that. But the serious blogging won't kick in until episode 6.

Seems the fairest solution. Those of you still watching (or willing to watch it again) get to discuss it, and I don't pretend to be remembering specifics on things I watched three months ago while battling jetlag and press tour brain-lock.

In fact, because I disliked so much of the premiere, I'm not going to bother with a separate post. Feel free to discuss it here, and I'll be back next Tuesday with something (even if it's just an open thread) on episode two.

19 comments:

EOTW said...

The last ep of this show I watched was the one where Tommy's bro got it. I missed all of last season and whatever came after that ep. Anyway, I'm DVRing this ep. Hearing good thing bout it and am hoping it's a return to form.

Anonymous said...

I was done with this show, as well, but thought I might revisit it. Glad to see from this post that it might actually be worth it. This show had such a strong and powerful first season; it was an immense disappointment to see it spiral downward into the garbage it would become a season or two later. Here's hoping that it's worth revisiting.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Anyway, I'm DVRing this ep. Hearing good thing bout it and am hoping it's a return to form.

Like I said, the season premiere is actually more in line with the bad stuff from the last couple of seasons, but the show does eventually get its act together.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

I agree with anonymous 7:35 AM. I did stick with it all last season, but the way it kind of became the "Tommy as stud show" I thought was ridiculous. (I also think the marketing of the DVDs has gone awry with the art work. Viewers voted on the cover for one of the seasons and had the whole group in the picture, but the powers that be decided to go with a cover that focused mainly--if not only--on Tommy, and I see the most recent set has only a picture of Tommy. He might be the center, but it's the group dynamics that make the whole show work, and I found the covers increasingly offensive for that reason.) The first season was amazing, and I'm glad to hear the show is now more back on track. Maybe the extra time off was a good thing for it.

Anonymous said...

It sounds as if the problem may be egomania on the part of Leary. I know that the actor who played the Chief felt that way, and that criticism is underscored by Leary essentially using the show to make out with loads of attractive women.

erin said...

I'm willing to give it another chance as well...I gave up a few episodes after his brother was killed last season because I thought nobody took anything seriously (and his wife is a serious shrew and their "love triangle" just didn't work for me.) I understand it's a comic drama, but you have to have some underlying tones of drama for it to work, or else they're all just a-holes who never change. I heard good things about the new season from EW, so I'll watch a few episodes and see if it returns to form. I'm keeping my expectations low!

Ben said...

Glad to hear that others had an issue with the direction of the show, but I am thrilled to hear Alan that it is back on track, eventually.

Sadly, the show has been off the air for so long that I really do not remember where we left things last. Well, maybe that is a good thing? Alan, if there are parts from the past that we need to remember, could you let us know what they are??? Thanks

Alan Sepinwall said...

Ben, you'll be fine. I had forgotten most of it, too, other thanthe death of Tommy's dad, and I was ok

Kathie said...

I agree with a lot of the other posters that lately most of the show is about women throwing themselves at Tommy. Never really understood the purpose of the Jennifer Esposito character..... The commraderie of the guys is what makes the show so good. Hope Tatum O'Neal is still around, her character is great.
I've been watching the show since the beginning and sticking with it.
Loved those 5 minute short clips that were shown last summer, they were a riot............

Edward Copeland said...

I quit the show when they had Jack McGee's character kill himself. Alan, has enough changed for me to forgive them for that? If every episode ends in a musical montage, I'm liable to bolt again.

Alex said...

Hahaha. I've noticed One Tree Hill and Rescue Me both constantly overuse the musical montage, specifically to end the episode.

Personally, I think it works better within a single scene, rather than a whole montage. The Sopranos got it right, as did all of the HBO shows which followed it and stole the technique - not that it's a bad thing.

HautieTx said...

It is nice to know I was not the only one that hated how much time was spent with Leary shagging everything in sight. And none of it ever drove the actual plot of the show. Just delusional Leary needing to show us his bony butt every week. Ugh.

Yet I have watched all along... so I am looking forward to it returning. I wonder if the first 4-5 shows were shot before the strike... and the rest were done afterwards. Maybe having the time off, gave the writers time to rethink how they wanted to tell its stories. And told Leary to put his pants on. haha!

Pamela Jaye said...

Rescue Me is not my speed and and Dennis Leary is very much not but - when is Michael J Fox going to be on? (and how do they plan to make im play someone who is paralyzed?)

I'll have no idea what's going on, but I'll watch anyway. (MJF's recently clogged my DVR with is book tour. If his 2nd book is as good as hi first... that man can write!)

LK said...

NB: Hulu is offering all four seasons of Rescue Me for free to watch online. I had always checked in and out of the show and marathoned it for the last couple of weeks in prep for the new season.
My love of Mike (fka Probie) actually grew, which I didn't think was possible. Hoping for more hijinx for him!

Edward Copeland said...

Ended with another damn musical sequence. I'd be a lot happier if Callie Thorne were gone. Tommy still has a few relatives to kill off since he is the Sipowicz of NY firefighters. I'm not sure I've seen enough to convince me to come back, though I liked Michael J. Fox's brief scene playing an asshole.

erin said...

You know, I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy it. I was howling (as usual) at the jokes around the firehouse kitchen table. They always knew how to write the way those guys can talk to each other. I never minded the musical montage at the end, and thought the fact they missed a guy in the burning building pretty powerful. I still can't stand the Callie Thorne character (although no offense to the actress)--she's way outlived her usefulness and just continues being pathetic. The MJFox character is funny, but I must admit that Fox's jerkiness from the Parkinson's makes me slightly uncomfortable. I'm hoping they can make the character worthwhile and memorable (and it was a good start in this ep). Fox made tommy's ex-wife more palatable at least.

I liked it. Color me intrigued.

Hoosier Paul said...

Alan, can I skip the first four or five episodes, and still be able to follow what's going on? Or do I need to soldier through them?

There were basically two things I enjoyed in the pilot:

1. It was awesome to see Michael J. Fox back on TV in his brief scene
2. The close-to-final image of the man in the window being engulfed in flames was just heartbreaking (to me, anyway)

parnell said...

Ive been watching since the first episode and I think Rescue Me is by far the best show on TV. Looking forward to the new season...

Anonymous said...

I have watched this show from the start and the last season was average - I am giving it a chance this season but barely making it. Absolutely NOTHING is happening. The things that are happening are recycled from previous seasons. Hate to say it but this show needs an overhaul or it's done. Thankfully the two "dumb" firefighters are still funny.