“Rescue Me” — The Complete Second Season

By Jae-Ha Kim
April 29, 2006

Rescue Me is a wake up call for every man who (as a kid) dreamed about becoming a fireman and every woman who fantasized about being with one. As flawed and complicated as they are selfless and heroic, the fire fighters in this FX series are a compelling lot. They deal with infidelity, drug addiction, and sexual abuse on a daily basis and make it seem like old hat. But the characters are so well thought out that they almost always make viewers care about what’s developing in their lives. This second season surpasses the debut year in terms of story lines and pacing.

Series creator Denis Leary (Ice Age, No Cure for Cancer) reprises his role of Tommy Gavin. Separated from his wife and children and also battling a drinking addiction, Tommy is now working as the new guy in a Staten Island firehouse. He isn’t a hero so much as he’s his own best victim. Luckily, he’s still got some loyal friends who’re quick to nip his pity-parties short: “You feeling a little angry? You feeling a little hurt? You feeling betrayed? Well, congratulations, you’re feeling, and you’re feeling because you’re sober.”

With his hangdog features and fast-paced speech pattern, Leary is surprisingly believable in the role. Returning character Chief Reilly (Jack McGee) faces some struggles of his own, as he watches his wife’s spiral downward thanks to Alzheimer’s. And it’s not much easier for Franco (Daniel Sunjata), who is trying to figure out the best ways to care for his daughter while working an unpredictable schedule.

While the drama on this show can sometimes be fiery and intense, the series provides enough biting humor to lend it an air of humanity and, at times, even a little warmth. It doesn’t leave viewers wanting to be fire fighters, but rather empathizing with them.

April 29, 2006

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