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I have recently been working on a series of reviews of TV series on DVD. I started with 24, where you can find the introduction to all those reviews, and i have continued with Lost, The L Word, The Batman TV Series, Nip And Tuck, Desperate Housewives, and here, Rescue Me.
I was expecting so much from this series. I really enjoy Denis Leary, but for some reason, i completely did not connect with the series. Actually, it somewhat turned me off, but the worst part is that i am not sure why.
Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) is a senior firefighter at Ladder 62 in the FDNY (Fire Department of New York). He is a great and dedicated firefighter but a terrible husband and mediocre human being overall. Suffering from alcoholism, and post traumatic stress syndrome since 9/11, he is fundamentally depressed about life and everything else besides his job. He sees dead people and can talk with them, but really, those dead people are his conscience. The series focuses on his life, both professionally and personally, his family, friends, and co-workers, and deals with subjects that are generally dark and sometimes controversial.
I guess the thing that turned me off the most is the darkness of the series, which is strange because i generally really like dark stuff. Something that i can't quite describe just felt off. Maybe it's the way the series was written. The dialogues are very "quick and choppy", if you understand what i mean. Denis Leary's brand of dialogue is everywhere (he co-wrote the series). The problem is that i am not sure it works in the cadre of this kind of dark material. I think he is much better with cynical and funny material overall, and this shift may be why i did not connect. A second thing that felt off was the editing. During dialogue scenes, it was very quick and sometimes disorienting. It matches the dialogues and character interactions well, but i guess it suffers from the same issues as the dialoques themselves. It's quick and choppy when we should maybe have had the opportunity for longer takes and more focus on the characters. After a few episodes, i was just wishing for character scenes to end quickly, and get to some firefighting action. That's not a good sign in my book.
It's a shame because otherwise, the series is quite good. The acting is first rate with Denis Leary being as good as ever, and an ensemble cast that really shines. Visually, the series is so well done. Cinematography is really good and the art direction is pitch perfect. New York City is detailed and looks gorgeous, even its grungiest parts. The Fire station is also wonderfully detailed and realistic. The action scenes are also done quite amazingly and are very believable. The music is just OK though, and a real opportunity to play on the New York City theme was botched.
I had really high hopes for the series, being a fan of Denis Leary and having heard so many good things about the series. However, as early as the 4th or 5th episode, i really disconnected completely. Maybe it was the material, the realistic but desperate look at the post-9/11 feelings of NY firefighters, the dark subjects, the dialogues, the editing... I really do not know what exactly, but watching the rest of the series became quite tedious. Nevertheless, i would recommend it to anyone though. Something just didn't click for me, but the series is still first-rate in many other respects.
- Laurent Hasson