Original Air Date: Apr 7, 2009
Tom R. – Sr. Staff Writer
Leave it to FX, and Rescue Me in particular, to go the extra mile. While other shows open their season with a bang, Rescue Me opens with a fireworks show.
After a disappointing fourth season, the comedy/drama about the FDNY got the green light for an extended season of 22 episodes. Last season was salvaged by the gracious end to the Gavin family AA meetings and the tragic finale that said goodbye to Tommy’s dad (Charles Durning). From the looks of things in this episode, expect a major rebound.
After a fantasy sequence that sees Tommy Gavin attack his father’s coffin with an axe and light it on fire, no time is wasted before the first fire of the season. Trapped between stairwells, the crew looks to break through a wall. Before they can clear the way, the fire gets to a box of fireworks, leaving them all pinned down and exposing Black Shawn’s fear of fireworks. Of course, the fireworks incident leads to a discussion of gruesome accidents and the question of which appendage people would rather lose.
As Chief Feinberg continues to push for Tommy’s section eight, Tommy visits Janet and meets her new boyfriend Dwight (Michael J. Fox), who taunts him about firefighting and Dalmatians. Sheila is in a kind of acting/role playing therapy, and Valerie has role play issues of her own, particularly when Tommy’s dog deflates her libido. Black Shawn, who started dating Tommy’s daughter Colleen last season, admits to Kenny that he hasn’t slept with her. Kenny speculates that since Tommy will kill him anyway, he might as well have some fun while he can.
Mike is persuaded by Garrity to buy a bar. Franco will be the bouncer, and Garrity will be the brains (You can stop right there). Franco agrees to be a part of this, mostly so he can watch the train wreck as it happens. Tommy’s advice is to buy a place on a cliff, start remodeling, and let someone push it over the edge. Mike, of course, id clueless, replying, “We’re buying a place in the city!”
The main thread starts at a Gavin family home movie festival. After the movies end, Mickey is reminiscing about his old dog Bootsie. When Tommy is called upon to share his feelings, he refuses to deify his dad, and instead launches into a diatribe about Bootsie’s lack of sanitary habits and how little pride his dad had shown in him. Later, Tommy is called when Mickey is found drunk and bloody, disrupting a baptism and drinking from the communion chalice. Taking him to safety, Tommy argues with him even more about the dog, until Mickey tells him the reason for his current bender. He had tried to save a dog that was hit by a truck, but it died in his arms before he could get to the vet. The flashbacks to Bootsie (and probably Mike) crushed his faith and sent him to the liquor store, then to the church.
Another fire closes the episode. Garrity is hurt during the blaze, which Feinberg declares a lost cause. As the men gather outside, they watch a man that they could not rescue. The man tries to get their help, and they can do nothing but watch him as the flames consume him.
The writing is sharp and effective throughout the episode. Each segment carries its own impact, leading to the finale that brings Feinberg’s judgment into question. A terrific start that’s consistently on the right foot. Fox is excellent in a role that defies his clean-cut image. Look for Maura Tierney (NewsRadio, ER) to appear in future episodes.
So there’s my two cents. What did you think? Drop in your comments or send me a note at: firstname.lastname@example.org .