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Rescue Me: Season 3 - Review

Dennis Leary in Rescue Me

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IT’S taken it’s time but the third season of excellent firefighting drama Rescue Me finally makes its way onto DVD in the UK – and it remains unmissable.

Dennis Leary and Peter Tolan have co-created one of the seminal series to emerge from the US over recent years thanks its provocative blend of comedy and drama that consistently tip-toes the line between good taste and bad.

In a nutshell, the series focused on the lives of a group of New York’s firemen as they attempt to put the tragedy of 9/11 behind them and get on with their lives. But a more mixed up bunch you could not find.

Rescue Me abandons the more traditional cliches associated with film depictions of firemen, and instead delivers a warts-and-all depiction of their camaraderie, their neuroses, their heroism and their selfishness. It’s a tribute to the bravery and ballsiness of the writing that each and every character is every bit as capable of appalling viewers as generating sympathy. You’ll be laughing along with them, too.

Leary’s volatile central character Tommy Gavin is a volatile force of nature who is seldom predictable and often objectionable, while the likes of Daniel Sunjata’s Franco add sex appeal, and Lt Shea its occasional common sense.

Season 3 picks up in the aftermath of the death of Tommy’s only son Connor, as he and Janet are freshly separated and Uncle Teddy is in prison for shooting the drunk-driver responsible for the tragedy.

Lt. Shea, meanwhile, is still smarting from getting conned by a prostituter and is becoming increasingly testy with everyone on the crew, while “Probie” (or Mike) begins a sexual relationship with his male roommate and attempts to cover it up.

Perhaps most notable, meanwhile, and a measure of the show’s appeal to Hollywood’s elite is Franco’s relationship with an older woman, played by Susan Sarandon, that takes a surprise direction. Tommy, on the other hand, falls back into things with Sheila, Jimmy’s widow.

It makes for an explosive cocktail and sometimes extremely controversial as the dialogue and character inter-action is frank, occasionally coarse, often outrageous and – like its characters – seldom predictable.

There are scenes of rape, date-rape, sibling rivalry and violence, death and despair… yet they’ve cleverly offset by laugh-out loud humour and acts of extreme bravery. These are flawed individuals, but deeply engrossing ones and their lives, while never easy, are often exhilarating to be a part of.

Needless to say, there’s more tragedy in store for Tommy, too, as he has to contend with the death of his estranged brother following a spectacular fallout between them, and Sheila’s increasingly intense feelings towards him, which contribute to the season’s explosive finale. As ever, Leary is superb – but he’s more than matched by his regular co-stars and the quality of its guest stars (Sarandon, in particular, is clearly revelling in the quality of the writing).

Rescue Me probably won’t sit well with the easily offended, or those who like their emergency service characters to be painted in a more traditional fashion, but for fans of edgy, brilliantly-conceived and knowingly provocative TV the show is pretty much essential viewing. Let’s hope the wait for season 4 of this acclaimed show doesn’t take quite so long! Oh, and it has one of the most kick-arse theme tunes on TV too (C’mon C’mon by The Von Bondies).

Certificate: 15
No. of discs: 4
UK DVD Release: June 8, 2009