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Rescue Me: Season 2 - Review

Dennis Leary in Rescue Me

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

LET’S get one thing straight from the outset – Rescue Me is one of the best and most overlooked programmes on TV.

The show follows the fortunes of a group of firemen as they attempt to cope with the stresses and fears of their job in post 9/11 New York.

With its biting wit and heartbreaking moral dilemmas it consistently provides first-class viewing – the type of which is likely to have you laughing along with them one minute, and bursting into tears at the next.

The first season irresistibly set up the format and season 2 builds on that success, picking up as Dennis Leary’s Tommy Gavin attempts to come to terms with the havoc his drinking has caused.

After leaving Engine 62 at the end of the first series, Tommy struggles to find friendships with his new colleagues at Ladder 73-Engine 336 and seeks a way back with his old colleagues.

But they’re less than keen to receive him, particularly as his reckless behaviour almost cost the life of Franco (Daniel Sunjata), who has since become addicted to painkillers.

Away from fighting fires, meanwhile, Tommy is attempting to find his ex-wife and children, desperate to prove to them that he can escape from his drinking nightmare.

His journey is watched from an unlikely source – a heavenly vision that is representative of the inner turmoil he is still going through.

Part of Rescue Me’s allure lies in its ability to tackle difficult issues in a way that never feels heavy-handed or patronising.

It’s view of American firefighters in the post-9/11 world is often brutally honest and refuses to pander to sentimentality or flag-waving, while its handling of other issues – such as paedophile priests and alzheimer’s – is equally well handled. The show seldom pulls its punches.

But for every hard-hitting issue, there’s also plenty of outrageous humour to lighten the load, much of which springs from the obvious camaraderie that exists between fire crews (not to mention the actors themselves). This is one of the most talented ensembles on TV, which makes its consistent omission from awards recognition somewhat baffling.

If there are criticisms, the religious imagery that runs throughout season 2 doesn’t always work as convincingly as it might and threatens to hinder the otherwise smooth flow of proceedings.

While the over-reliance on songs to close out each episode eventually becomes lazy and threatens to rob the actors of the limelight.

But there’s no denying the show’s power to stir the emotions, or its ability to tickle the funny bone.

And come the shocking conclusion, involving a traumatic drink-drive incident and its devastating fallout, you’ll be totally captivated.

Rescue Me is scorching viewing and one that’s screaming out for a wider audience. It’s one of US TV’s best kept secrets – so buy it, watch it and tell everyone you know about it! Roll on season 3…