Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rescue Me, "Mickey": The singing fireman

Spoilers for tonight's "Rescue Me" coming up just as soon as I taunt you with my sandwich...
"What are you singing for? You sound gay!" -Terrance Garrity
Whatever 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?


Joe C. said...

Was very surprised to find out that the female boxer was Simone, the "femme fatale" from season one of Heroes. Not the best, but here she actually showed some vague personality.

Oaktown Girl said...

I was (pleasantly) surprised by how often I laughed out loud during this one. Very entertaining episode.

Your Rescue Me posts have a habit of touching on everything I would have said, so for now nothing to add to what you've already written.

Stanoje said...

Could someone explain the significance of the Mickey Mantle clip? I don't know a thing about the dude.

Anonymous said...

Mickey Mantle was a famous baseball player. Obviously he died young because of alcoholism and damge to his liver

David Blumgart said...


Have you heard? You can search for information on the Web. One really good way is a site called Google. For example:


[link shortened to fit Blogger formatting]

Give it a try sometime.

Nicole said...

I was thrilled that they finally let Steven Pasquale sing, and the heckling began just as the moment might have become too sappy. He presented on the Tonys this year, and so I'm glad to see a small portion of his talent being used on the show.

The Needles interrupting Tommy and Janet scene was hilarious and needed because I was not thrilled with Janet once again being unable to control herself with Tommy. Her character doesn't make that much sense anymore, but at least there was a decent payoff. I hope that they give her something better to do in future episodes though because it seems as though this show can only sustain one well-rounded female character at a time, which at the moment is Sheila, until she too reverts to a bitchy/crazy stereotype.

Stanoje said...


have you heard? People can choose to not be rude.

Give it a try sometime.

Anonymous said...

Anybody remember what happened to Franco's relationship with the woman with the retarded brother? Admittedly been a while, but I thought they were still together (and possibly engaged) at the end of Season 4.

Nevada Smith said...

Mickey Mantle: one of the greatest NY Yankees who ever lived. Hit the longest home run out of the stadium. Won the triple crown (HRs, RBIs, Batting Avg). Raced Roger Maris for all time Home Run Leader which Maris won barely with 61 Home Runs at a time when it was much much harder to hit HRs (and who I feel still holds the record). He was a heavy drinker but there were a lot of them on the team (future Yankee manager Billy Martin among them). At the end of his life he needed a liver transplant and it was said that he jumped to the top of a donor list strictly because he was the great Mickey Mantle. He died a short time after the transplant and a short time before the interview shown on this Rescue Me. He was and always will be #7 and even his name was perfect for a superstar back in the day-although in hindsight not someone a nation should have idolized-but we did. I have an autographed baseball of his which I got personally from him one night towards the end of his life sitting at his bar Mantle's on Central Park South in NYC (where else) and all it cost me was a few drinks.

Doug S said...

Nevada, I think we need to make it clear that Mantle died shortly after the interview shown on this ep of Rescue Me.

As for the show, Sheila has officially become the worst character in recent tv history, and her small parts are ruining the too-few fun parts. That said, Leary's t-shirt collection is awesome, and this week's Who Maximum R&B choice was inspired.

Stanoje said...

Thanks for the explanations.

Nevada Smith said...

of course after-my mistake

dez said...

@Anonymous 5:26 p.m., IIRC, she left him for someone else. I think it was commitment issues on her end. The brother liked Franco better than the new guy, too.

I loved the look of bliss on Sean's face as he dreamed of shooting his brother. Pasquale's got a very nice singing voice, too. Great scene. Also loved Needles now having something to hold over Tommy'e head. Nice look of glee on Needles' face during that whole exchange.

Alan, they did touch on 9/11 this time. During Tommy's rant at the AA meeting, he says he started drinking heavily after 9/11. At this point, though, that seems more like a crutch than a reason for him. He needs to deal with his emotions about 9/11 before AA will truly be effective for him, and he's apparently not ready to do that.

If Lou gets suckered by Candy again, I will be pisssssed.

olucy said...

Loved the same scenes that everyone else did.

Question: when Needles caught Tommy and Janet, he invited Tommy to join them on one of their little fire thingies. None of the guys in that vehicle were in uniform. What kind of fire could they be going to in their civilian clothes? They've probably done this before and I just wasn't paying attention.

Agree...will be pissed and disappointed if Lou gets stupid with Candy a second time.

Anonymous said...

Love music... hate musicals... fast forwarded the entire Sean "number". Also, I hope Lombardi can get acting gigs because IMO, he can't sing.

As for The Mick, he was in his 60's when he died, so he didn't die all that young. I remember sitting in the ATL airport when I heard the news. Even as a 40 year old man, my eyes got a little misty.... Mickey Mantle wasn't supposed to die.

Alan Sepinwall said...

As for The Mick, he was in his 60's when he died, so he didn't die all that young.

That was kind of the point, though. Because his father and grandfather had died at such young ages, Mickey assumed he wouldn't live that long and therefore drank to excess and didn't take care of himself. In the same interview with the "Don't be like me" quote, he said that if he'd known he was going to live as long as he did, he would have done things differently -- which would, most likely, have led to him living even longer.

erin said...

I won't even mention my Janet/Sheila irritation...it doesn't change from show to show! Argh.

Anonymous @ 2:28--you should've watched it! The best part of it was that a different show would have made it all "This is Stephen Pasquale's attempt to showcase his new album!", but on Rescue Me, the lyrics, imagery, and Pasquale himself (looking at the camera, yelling at his brother, grabbing the shotgun), were just laugh-out loud funny.

Candy. Argh! Go away and leave Lou alone.

All the guys in their towels...I'm juuuust shallow enough to appreciate the imagery. And i was actually amused by the interplay between Tommy and Black Shawn...it made me laugh. Who KNOWS where Colleen picked up that stuff?!?

Alan, I think you're right on with the Franco/boxer situation. Reversing gender roles seem to be the only way that Tolan/Leary can portray women. Prepare to be not surprised by how that story turns out!

J-rod said...

I laughed more at this episode than any other, I think. I typically don't like scenes of internal states (Tommy's fugues bother me but the early season hallucinations were okay; I struggle with 6 Feet Under because of this fetish as well; I hated the musical scene in Lebowski even!), but I really liked Sean's pre-op high.

Shower with Black Sean was hilarious, especially the reentry of Franco and Mike with the peanutbutter anus admission and of course the final line of that scene.

I loved the AA speech too. Predictable as it may have been I was expecting him to cap it with "I drink because I've earned it".

Regarding Mickey Mantle, was I the only person that thought that Tommy's cousin Mickey had pulled a switcheroo and given him a DVD with that clip on it? It seemed to work if that was the case.

Oaktown Girl said...

Regarding Mickey Mantle, was I the only person that thought that Tommy's cousin Mickey had pulled a switcheroo and given him a DVD with that clip on it? It seemed to work if that was the case.

That's not what happened? I thought that was exactly what happened. Did I miss something? Was it a hallucination?

renton said...

I thought the part with the satellite installer was pretty damn funny this week, too.

Anonymous said...

Wow, great summary. You've summed it all up.

The Mickey Mantle part was brilliant too. One of the best episodes in a while, and you've pointed out the negatives. Still one of the best shows on TV.