"What are you singing for? You sound gay!" -Terrance GarrityWhatever reservations the last few episodes may have created in me were temporarily eased by "Mickey." It still had elements that drove me nuts -- "Rescue Me" is probably genetically incapable of not driving me nuts on occasion -- but the fun stuff was so, so much fun that the irritating parts were easier to shrug off than usual.
Start with the climactic fantasy musical number as Garrity was prepped for surgery. That kind of scene feels all but obligatory on any show featuring any actors with musical theater background -- which Steven Pasquale has(*) -- particularly in the decades since the original "The Singing Detective." When it works, as it did here, it does so because the show commits to the idea while still staying true to itself. So the song (with lyrics by Peter Tolan) sounded good, the production (with the nurses as angels, then Valkyries) looked good, and then it took a very "Rescue Me" turn where Terrance wandered into the shot to heckle his brother's singing, and Sean in turn grabbed a shotgun to deal with the problem. Hilarious.
(*) Pasquale also just released an album of showtunes. I know some people have complained that the scenes with Mike's band are just a blatant commercial for Mike Lombardi's own musical career, but so far neither musical subplot has felt that intrusive to me.
Meanwhile, Tommy's futile attempt to "control" his drinking continues to be fascinating. I loved him calling Mickey's bluff and confessing to/telling off the entire AA meeting (including poor, disillusioned Derek), but what made that scene work was the later moment where Tommy's home alone watching Mickey Mantle's famous "Don't be like me" interview shortly before his death. For all of Tommy's bravado, the show is making it clear, repeatedly, that Tommy is fooling himself even more than usual -- that this is a stupid plan that's doomed to cause Tommy and the people around him more pain.
And while the actual concept of Janet and Sheila throwing themselves at Tommy is still grating, some of the material on the fringes of that has been funny, like Needles' delight (well-played by Adam Ferrara) at discovering Tommy and Janet in the car together.
Similarly, Black Shawn/Colleen remains lame, but Tommy hosing down Black Shawn and the ensuing Birmingham discussion ("Footage? I was there!") was funny.
I still wish they'd get back to 9/11, and I'm not feeling optimistic about either Franco with the female boxer (which looks like another of the show's awkward attempts to talk about gender roles) or Lou with Candy the hooker, but overall, I was relieved enough with this one to not feel the need to dive through the rest of my screeners.
What did everybody else think?