Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rescue Me, "David": Wedding night is fight night!

Quick spoilers for tonight's "Rescue Me" coming up just as soon as I get more Oreos...

On one of the final days of press tour, FX held a panel with several of its top drama showrunners, including Peter Tolan from "Rescue Me," and I asked him the same question I'd raised in my last episode review a few weeks ago, about how he felt doing 22 episodes this season instead of 13 had worked out. This is what he said:
Well, the advantages of doing a shorter season are you’re obviously much more able to focus on the quality of the individual episodes, as opposed to looking at a very daunting 22 or 24 order (in) which, typically you’re going to have some really wonderful shows in there and some good shows and then a couple of stiffs. Hopefully, when you’re doing 13 shows, they’re all wonderful or pretty good. And when we did the 22 this year on "Rescue Me," it was a big thing because we used to consider the 13 sort of the Bataan Death March, and by the time we’d get to the end, we were dragging.

But for some reason, whatever it was, we were very energized and able to get through those 22 episodes with a great amount of vigor. So I don’t know why that happened. I think it may have been some sort of a human drug, you know, the growth hormone thing that they were putting in the food at lunch.
So Tolan seemed pretty happy with how it's gone, as has FX, which has ordered at least 18 episodes for next season (FX president John Landgraf said it was possible they might order a few more).

As I was the last time, my feelings are mixed about doing such a long season. It still feels like the storytelling has been too much on the shaggy side, and also that we've spent too much time focusing on stories that aren't very interesting (Tommy's love triangle, which I guess is now a quadrangle) than on the ones that were more compelling (repressed feelings about 9/11 coming back to the surface).

But the other thing I wrote last time feels even truer after an episode like "David": that having so many hours to fill has given Tolan, Denis Leary and company license to do scenes that are incredibly long by modern TV drama standards. Sometimes, those elongated scenes don't work and then seem to drag on forever, like Tommy's fantasy about adult Connor coming to rob the bar. And sometimes they work but have no connection to anything that came before or after, like Garrity's penile panic from last week's episode, which was funny but felt like it could have been airlifted into any episode that season that was running short.

But when they work, and when they tie into the ongoing storylines -- as in Lou and Tommy argument gradually turning into a brawl whose duration rivaled the Rowdy Roddy Piper/Keith David fight scene from "They Live!", or as in Kelly(*) gradually deciding to give Tommy a shot at dinner -- then they're a tremendous pleasure to watch, and make me think that doing a longer season isn't such a bad idea. Maybe 18 is better than 22 -- long enough to give them freedom for scenes like this, but not so long that the story arcs are stretched out too thin -- but as we head into the home stretch of season five, I'm feeling good about the season again.

(*) How great has Maura Tierney been, by the way? Because she spent so long on "ER" playing a dark and often depressed character, it's easy to forget how funny she was on "NewsRadio," and how vibrant and sexy she can be when given the right material. One of the funnier parts of listening to the commentaries on the early "NewsRadio" DVDs is hearing, time after time, a male participant doing his first commentary track pause at his first glimpse of Tierney to say something like "Wow, Maura was really hot back then!" It happens constantly: actors, writers, and NBC executives all quickly become smitten with mid-'90s Maura. I'm glad she got to play this part before having to deal with her current medical situation, and I hope she has a good enough outcome that she can quickly get back to work on "Parenthood."

What did everybody else think?


Kensington said...

"What did everybody else think?"

I think that I, too, am smitten with Maura Tierney.

Eldritch said...

Oh, yeah. I've been smitten by Maura Tierney since the '90's, for sure.

Hubba hubba.

Tara said...

I think it's *impossible* to forget how funny, vibrant and sexy Maura has always been and still is. And even more impossible to forget what an absolutely phenomenal actor she is. That scene last night with her and Leary was really superb. She's been absolutely amazing in this arc, I can't wait to see how it ends.

Thanks for showing her some love, Alan!

Karen said...

This isn't helpful to the conversation, but I've finally given up on Rescue Me - I had taped the episode a couple of weeks ago, as I usual did, and then when we sat down to watch it, it cut off in the middle - and we were relieved. Just couldn't take it anymore. Sorry not to have seen Maura Tierney, but just. couldn't. take. it. (Other show we gave up on this season: Warehouse 13. Yawn.)

Anonymous said...

I had given up on Rescue Me a few seasons ago based on objections to the show that were similar to the ones Alan has expressed in the past. I decided to give it another try, and the episodes kept piling up on the DVR, and I never watched a single one. I ended up deleting all of them recently, and felt so free

Anonymous said...

Love Maura Tierney, so it's a shame she's been wasted as another of Leary's masturbatory fantasy women.

It's reaching the point now that he just seems to be casting guest actresses so that he can sleep with them.

Whenever a well known actress appears, you know exactly what role she will be filling on the show for a couple of episodes.

JanieJones said...

I was happy when Tierney started her arc two weeks ago. She is a breath of fresh air. I enjoyed her and Tommy's exchange last night. I remember Maura from "NewsRadio" and I continued to watch ER specifically because she brought something to the table with her struggles as Abby Lockhart.

I have felt the compulsory need to stick through this season even though I get irritated at times at the pointless or endlessly dragged out situations, i.e., Janet, Sheila.

I felt that last night's episode was better than some had been of late. I was hoping we get to another point with Jimmy's reappearance and Sheila's admittance of his affair. Perhaps I am over analyzing but I think Jimmy may have had an affair with someone Tommy was close to....
However, unlike some of his appearances this season, his appearance was bit haunting to me. The subtle appearance on the 9/11 footage and last night were to drive home points to Tommy.

I know many people get tired of Sheila and her antics but some very good points were made last night. Tommy, even 24 years ago, was short tempered and angry. Jimmy represented stability. I often wondered when they would (showrunners) would get around to making this point that Jimmy was Sheila's ying to her yang. She required the stability and quiet love from Jimmy because she is the opposite.

There are 3 episodes left? I'm hoping for something to happen that will basically tilt the world in the show for a good set-up for next season.

One more thing, Lou marrying Candy and signing a prenup made me think she has something up her sleeve. After the revelation at the bar between Lou, Tommy and Needles about her new found money, it made me wonder why she would put him 1) to a test 2) that she would not at least pay Lou back the money she stole from him.

However, the show is uneven at times.
I was surprised that FX had ordered another 18 eps. or more for next season. I hope next season is more even and starts to wrap up storylines.

Wayman said...

I deleted the 5 un-watched Rescue Me's (including this one) from the DVR last night, and cancelled all future recordings.

The show just stinks now, and I think the 22 episode order is what killed it. Not much compelling was happening week-to-week; Tommy just is a bigger and bigger d-bag.

I've been waiting for the "That's it for me!" treatment from Alan, but he seems a bit re-vitalized.

Perhaps I acted too soon, but could not get motivated to watch anymore; there's just too much other good stuff to watch

Yet another anonymous said...

All I can say is, this is the first season in several that I have caught most of the episodes, and generally (with a few exceptions) enjoyed some of them. Not sure if the greater number of episodes has anything to do with that. And this coming from someone who was really fed up with most of the last two years.

And yes, on fun of the mini Maura Tierney arc.

A question: was Needles featured as much in prior years? I think he is a nice addition to the group.

Eldritch said...

...Garrity's penile panic from last week's episode, which was funny but felt like it could have been airlifted into any episode that season that was running short.

I struck me as good as a quick gag, but that's all.

The writers must have thought more of it. They included it in the already lengthy scenes from previous episodes.

Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Maura's great--Lisa Miller has always been my #1 TV girlfriend. Maura has been underutilized in films, but has had some good roles. Check out her scenes with Al Pacino in Insomnia as well as a starring role in Scotland, PA (a crazy adaptation of MacBeth).

dez said...

A question: was Needles featured as much in prior years? I think he is a nice addition to the group.

Needles wasn't featured much since they already had a Chief. I agree, he's a great addition.

I wish they would resolve the Tommy/Sheila/Janet/Whoever mess already. They've dragged it out long enough; time for something new.