The Rescue Me reviews go more quickly when I write them up scene by scene. So let's do it again! Plus, only 13 of you are commenting, so it's not like I can turn off any more readers than I already have.
Scene 1: I'm watching the show in HD tonight, instead of on a DVD screener. Already, the picture quality is making me more amenable toward the show in general. Unfortunately, this teaser isn't much of a scene at all. It's just a weird little semantic battle between Tommy and Janet over whether wine is booze or not. There's some funny stuff here, and I guess it's a positive step that Tommy's pouring the liquor down the drain (though I expect it to last about the length of this episode), but the "Tommy tries to stop drinking because Colleen is a drunk" thing is pretty hackneyed. And is it just me, or did this scene open a little TOO in medias res? I'm all for dropping us into the middle of a new situation, but Tommy suddenly stopping drinking because of what he and Colleen saw at the bar the other night when the last episode ended with him taking a drink triumphantly feels a little out of nowhere. Grade: C
Scene 2: Tommy calls Damien at the firehouse and asks him to call off any surprise parties the guys might have planned for Tommy's return to duty. Only, surprise, surprise, the guys don't have anything planned and are just working on a puzzle. What is this? Step by Step? Grade: C
Scene 3: This is, more properly, a continuation of scene 2, since it's all about Tommy arriving at the firehouse and realizing that the guys indeed didn't get him any strippers or throw him a party. You can imagine his sadness at this. The guys give him some good-natured ribbing, and I expect this is the end of this plotline. At least we won't have to endure Tommy throwing himself a surprise party. The fire klaxon thing goes off, and the guys are off to some sort of disaster. Grade: C+
Scene 4: I always like scenes in shows where our characters meet bizarro versions of themselves. These sorts of scenes usually come late in a show's run, when the characters are so well-established that just seeing alternate versions is enough to bring laughs. That's the case here, where the show doesn't go out of its way to underline that the guys from the other fire truck are almost exactly like our guys, but it happens nonetheless. There's funny stuff as the two sides face off, then the funny gradually leaks out as Mike and the version of him from the other house (who happens to be a woman, ha ha) bend down to help the junkie they were called out to save. Will they have to blow him? No, apparently, as he wakes up in fright. Then the two sides banter about how they'll settle their rivalry at the ALL IMPORTANT COOKOUT THAT WILL DETERMINE THE FATE OF THE UNIVERSE. Seriously, is this Step by Step? Grade: B
Scene 5: Well, this scene immediately ruins the understatement of the previous one by having Black Shawn point out that the other truck is like looking in a mirror. Things don't get much better from there, as Sean and Mike (a pairing I usually like) discuss finding a way to help the world out, then learn that numerous celebrities have already cordoned off specific causes for themselves. I'm not sure what the point of this scene is. Perhaps to introduce a new plotline. It feels like something that would happen in that week every November when NBC forces all of its shows to do a plot about green living. Grade: C
Scene 6: Tommy tries to talk to Janet on his cell phone after Franco starts off talking to her. Damien and Needles discuss whether Tommy came back too soon and whether Lou's too fat. They also coin the term "gock," for a man whose gut extends all the way to his … well, you can probably fill in the rest. Not a really essential scene, but not terrible by any means. Grade: B-
Scene 7: On the way back from reviving the junkie, the guys get into a fight in the back of the truck after some of them mock Sean and Mike's plan to help the world. Lou, taking his paternal role, breaks it up, then is sad when he realizes he's said they won't stop for ice cream. Scurti's delivery of "Shit … we're not stopping for ice cream" is almost enough to save this scene on its own. Grade: B-
Scene 8: Tommy and the guys go back to the firehouse, and after some mostly amusing talk about what to order for dinner, Teddy and Mickey show up to give Tommy some whiskey in honor of his first day back and let him know that they're cutting him loose as a lost cause. Teddy says the cringeworthy line, "I'm out of bullets, both literally and figuratively," and the scene feels pretty bizarre. But I like the fact that the show itself is skeptical of Tommy's ability to change, and that gives some of this a darker undercurrent that's not bad. Grade: C+
Scene 9: Another scene on the way somewhere. The structure of the episode becomes clearer here: It's Tommy's first few days back, and the guys are going out on a lot of calls that don't need their expertise. In fact, they haven't been back to the house since breakfast today. This is an intriguing setup, and I'm willing to see where it's going. Grade: B-
Scene 10: The guys rescue a kid who's fallen down a grate and into a deep hole. Meanwhile, Lou is having health problems. Pretty straightforward, and there's not a lot of suspense involved, but it mostly works. Grade: B
Scene 11: A well-written scene between Tommy and Lou about how Tommy's worried about Lou's weight and Lou is realizing his body is breaking down, but he still likes eating, just like Tommy likes drinking. It's nice to watch these characters banter back and forth, but I'm starting to get the feeling the show is going to take Lou from us in the finale, then have him back in the episodes next year as a ghost. It would be just like something they'd do, and I'm not looking forward to it. Grade: B+
Scene 12: OK, so it IS an introduction of a new storyline. Black Shawn suggests to Sean that he bring attention to the fact that men who suffer from health problems sustained on Sept. 11. Still not sure why this plot exists, but at least there's a better idea of what it's doing here. Grade: C+
Rescue Me romance flashback: Really, Rescue Me promotional department?
Scene 13: Franco and Janet talk on the phone about Vaseline. The other guys all titter about it. I thought I had a handle on this episode, but I really have no idea what the throughline is supposed to be. There's just a bunch of stuff that's happening. Grade: C-
Scene 14: A long, long scene with Tommy and Sheila. There are some things I like here. I like the talk about Tommy's mother (a character we haven't heard a lot about). I like the nearly silent argument between Sheila and Damien seen from outside the car. I like the way Tommy can't undo the childproof locks. But the vast majority of the scene is yet another argument about how Damien needs to not be a fireman. It's just a stupid plot, and I don't know why the show keeps going to it. Grade: C
Scene 15: Finally, some firefighting action. Also, Peter Gallagher! Tommy saves a Virgin Mary statue, but now it has a hole in it, and Father Gallagher is upset. A nicely shot sequence, but aren't the fire sequences always like that? Grade: B+
Scene 16: The guys get Tommy a Kevlar vest as a gift for returning to work. Needles gets everyone pizza. Lou passes out, deathly ill. And that's where we leave things. Tune in again next week, I guess? Grade: B-
Reviewer tilt: Honestly, this whole episode felt like it dragged. There didn't seem to be much of a point except for providing a bridge between here and there. Grade: C
Actual average: C+ Huh.
- Who's the new fat guy who drives the truck everywhere?
- Oh, Rescue Me. You always get me with your next week ons. Next week, in particular, looks pretty good. I'll see all 10 of you then!
- "On a woman, it's called a 'gunt.'"