Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rescue Me, "Clean": Weak against the strong

Quick thoughts on tonight's "Rescue Me" coming up just as soon as I clean under the truck...

The deeper we get into this season of "Rescue Me," the more I'm coming around to the viewpoint, expressed off and on by some commenters here, that doing 22 episodes instead of the usual 13 was a mistake.

Even under the old format, "Rescue Me" was a shaggy dog kind of show, meandering at its own pace, presenting episodes where the scenes seemed to be ordered at random, sometimes following through on ideas, sometimes not. But if a season was never as tightly-plotted as "The Shield," doing 13 usually meant that we got to the end before things felt too shaggy.

And while this year has overall been much stronger than either of the previous two seasons, it's also felt looser and more random than usual, either doubling back over the same material too often, or simply dragging things out past the point of interest.

Take the reverse intervention Tommy pulled on his family(*), which might have seemed funny if it hadn't come so close on the heels of Tommy trying a similar stunt at his AA meeting. Or look at the ongoing Tommy/Sheila/Janet love triangle; admittedly, I wouldn't find it interesting under any timeline, but dragging it out as long as they have (because they can, and because they have episodes that need filling) is just making things worse.

(*) Speaking of Tommy's family, whatever happened to his other brother Timo, played for a few first season episodes by James Badge Dale? At the time, I got the sense that they hired Dale because Dean Winters had a scheduling conflict, but given all the tragedies Tommy has suffered in the years since, shouldn't Timo have turned up again? And was he ever memorable enough to be considered a 21st century Chuck Cunningham?

Now, an argument could be made that because they have so much time to fill, they can let scenes run longer than normal, and then we get terrific sequences like Tommy vs. Needles in Needles' office, or even the pre-credits stuff in Sheila's kitchen. The latter is an instance where I was starting to get irritated (oh, look, Sheila's being an unreasonable shrew again!), then I started to laugh (around the time Callie Thorne started saying the word "fluffy"), and then it really all clicked in when Sheila brought out her pill dispenser and we remembered that Sheila does (understandably) have severe emotional problems, and that the show occasionally takes them seriously.

For scenes like those two, I'll suffer through a lot of fluff. But I still think 13 is a better number for season six (assuming there's going to be a season six).

Given my press tour commitments over the next several weeks, and vacation time after that, I'm not sure how often I'll be able to weigh in on the rest of the season. If nothing else, if I've seen an episode, I'll make sure to put up a post so those of you who are watching can discuss it.

What did everybody else think?

9 comments:

Joe C. said...

It's been stated that season six will be eighteen episodes. Although I love the show enough that I'm okay with that.

Sonia said...

We laughed out loud really hard at a couple of scenes with the guys (speculation re: needle's new wife's grooming, Garrity thinking he convinced Damien that carpe diem is about a fish). If I get a good laugh, that's fine for me!

Bill said...

Tommy the superpowered alcoholic gets Mickey to drink with an offhand remark about David Copperfield, and it's not even treated as a big deal? I think I'm done.

JanieJones said...

I agree that this season has seemed to drag on at certain points but I do get some good laughs such as Needle's wife grooming and Tommy swooping out from underneath the truck-priceless. The whole Tommy, Janet, Sheila triangle is beginning to wear on me. However, Sheila's rant in the intro and then bringing out the pills and explaining that she forgot to take them (while explaining which pill does for her) was a small piece of brilliant writing. And Bill's comment about Tommy and his superpowered alcoholic skills drags everyone, except Maggie, into drinking was a bit overdone and not believable. I will still tune in though because it's one of the better done shows on television right now.

Oaktown Girl said...

For me the good still outweighs the not-so-good to such an extent that I make an effort to watch every week - if not live, then On Demand. I'll be happy if the quality stays at least as good as it is now, and doesn't drop to season 4 lows.

Off topic - for us Kings/Ian MsShane fans, the surprisingly good news is that they have been airing the remaining episodes, which is great. This week looks like the last one (hopefully they'll show it), so I'm hoping I can talk you into one last Kings post.

Orion7 said...

I was waiting and waiting for Tommy's intervention to be revealed as one of his dreams, because that was the only way the scene made sense to me. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

Abe Fried-Tanzer said...

I was thinking the exact same thing - 13 episodes might have been perfect, and with this episode, it's starting to seem like some of the episodes are just filler.

dez said...

I did not like the reverse intervention scene (though it was interesting that Maggie was the only one to resist), but I did enjoy the rest of the ep. Poor Needle :-D

Anonymous said...

In one of the DVD commentary tracks for a previous season, the creators/producers/Leary stated that the actor (Dale) playing Timo was unhappy working on the show because he objected to its "adult content." (Did neither he nor his agent ever watch the show before he auditioned for the role?) TPTB decided to stop writing for his character & eventually brought in some of Tommy's previously unseen siblings to fill the void.