Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rescue Me: The Complete Sixth Season and the Final Season

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Rescue Me:  The Complete Sixth Season and the Final Season - 4 out of 5

Shows are difficult to both begin and end.  Like Mitch Hedberg once said about starting a show (in his case, it was great--FANTASTIC--stand up comedy) you need to start the show strong and end strong.  Mitch said you can't be like pancakes, all exciting at first then, by the end, you're fucking sick of them.  (By the way, rest in peace, Mitch, you will remain one of the greats!)  Rescue Me had a great premise:  It followed the antics of a specific firehouse in Manhattan after the events of September 11th.  Denis Leary stars as the vice-ridden Tommy Gavin as he tries to come to grips with his personal life, sexual life, working life and the fact he sees ghosts of those closest to him that he lost, both in the World Trade Center attacks and events that occurred to him over the course of seven seasons of the show.

Rescue Me Drinking Game:  Take a drink every time Janet blinks.  Actually, scratch'll have alcohol poisoning before she finishes her first sentence.

Sean and Mike...always funny.

I was lukewarm to the show when it first started.  I liked the premise and the characters that filled the firehouse Gavin practically lived in had promise.  However, for me, the show didn't hit its stride until Season 2.  At that point, the show went balls-out and hit the airwaves like a pack of rabid wolves, running and devouring all in its path of epic entertainment on a network that, in my opinion, is where it is at for television shows right now; FX.  Tommy's struggles with alcohol and women along with the troubles of his partners on Ladder 62 including his best friend Lou, his bi-curious teammate Mike and his moronic (but hilarious) partner Sean, the overly egotistical vagina hound Franco and of course, Gavin's psychotic family including Uncle Teddy, his ex-wife; Janet, and, the woman I am mysteriously attracted to, his equally vice-engrossed sister; Maggie.  Then, I can't forget, all the other insane women that come and go in Tommy's life that, justifiably, drive him to the drink--but if I mentioned all of them, I would be here all day.

Adam Ferrara is great as Chief "Needles."  He was a great addition to the show in Season 3.

So, as the seasons past Rescue Me only seemed to get better and better and when the hit the cliff-hanger on the 2nd half of Season 5, it seemed it would only come to a close on a high note.  Then I sat down and watched this set...

I'm not going into here in the review but there were some major changes to Franco's character that felt tacked on and didn't really flow with the evolution of his character.  Wait, I guess this sentence did make it so I was bringing it up here in the review.  This is a long caption.

"Boy, I'm an awful actor.  Maybe something will
happen to my character that makes him unable
to speak."

Comparatively, Season 6 and Season 7 were complete let downs when compared to the other seasons and their writing.  However, that isn't to say that the show ended poorly.  The biggest downer that came from the final two seasons ended up with a very obvious change in flow the show took.  The writers seemingly decided to focus on the youths in Gavin's life and his nephew and his daughters took on big roles and ended up getting the lion's share of the stories.  Tommy's daughter Colleen gets her own addiction to booze and decides she's going to marry another member on Tommy's truck; Black Shawn, and his other daughter gets more lines.  Along the way, Tommy's nephew (and the son of his deceased brother's widow, someone Tommy has had an "on again, off again" physical/psychotic relationship with over the seasons) is torn between his commitment to Tommy and if he wants to stay on the force or leave the fighting of fires life behind like his mother desires.  These stories would be great...if they could act.

Natalie Distler can't even make drinking look convincing.
Scenes that involved Colleen, Tommy's younger daughter who wasn't even an important enough character to me to take the time to memorize or even Google her name and Tommy's nephew were all portrayed by actors who, until these seasons, just had to be backup and hang around in the background but the writers made the gross mistake of giving them storylines and, in doing so, really tore down the quality we've seen in seasons past.  Then, to add a little salt and some lemon juice to be rubbed in this wound, great characters like Uncle Teddy, Mickey and Maggie all take backseats and are seen sparingly until the show comes to its final season.

So, let me get this straight:  The Gavin Youths get more screen time than Jerry Adler?!?  He was in The Sopranos for crying out loud.
To make matters even far worse, a kick in the nuts to add to our juice and salt filled wound, the show decides that Tommy hasn't had enough grief from women in the series and decides that his daughters, his ex-wife and ex-lover should all band together and make the heroic Tommy Gavin their errand running, hen-pecked bitch.  Every episode saw the girls cackling and yelling at Tommy and sending him to the store.  So, I have to ask the question:  Why the hell do I want to watch that?  I signed up to see Tommy talk to dead people as he battles him demons both in burning houses and at the bottom of a bottle.

Mickey's opening moments in Season 6 were fantastic...probably the only good moments in that season.
Episodes started to take on more closed ended stories during Season 6 and 7 and it seemed there was very little in the overall story arc--except Tommy's daughter Colleen's drinking (I'm sorry, that's not enough to carry a season, probably why Season 6 only went 10 episodes).  But, as if seeing the mistake they were making, the writers started to fix their problems and returned to the show I fell in love with...sadly, they realized this mistake in the last two episodes.

Black Shawn is a hilarious character...too bad he had to deal with sharing scenes with the character of Colleen Gavin.

After the epic cliff-hanger from last season involving
Uncle Teddy, I kinda expected his character to do more
these last two seasons.
HOWEVER...the final minutes of the prelude to the final episode and the series finale were fantastic.  The show once again resembled what I saw in Seasons 1 thru 5 and was once again, the warm and familiar presence of Rescue Me.  Although the series finale conflicted me because it provided a decent close to Tommy's story, it also saw (SPOILER ALERT!!!) the death of one of my favorite characters.  (I don't know how much of a spoiler that is because I like a lot of characters on the show.)  So, when the credits rolled on the last episode, I was upset over seeing my favorite character die but enjoyed the way he went out because, in his doing so, his death made for some great TV.  Even with all my complaints about the direction the show suddenly took before its ending, the final episode provide the drama, the humor and great story telling that made me a fan of the show in the first place.

Lou...these two seasons needed more of you!

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