Sean Maher's Quality Control

Friday, September 16, 2005

Rescue Me: What'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?

Comics moment of the day: Wow, Lapham finally did something with the Punisher that Ennis hasn't already outclassed. This week's issue of Daredevil vs. Punisher was really strong.

So, I just recently rented the Rescue Me DVDs on the advice of some friends.

What a fuckin' show.

Denis Leary seemed for a while like he was about finished. I really enjoyed the Lock n' Load standup performance, but when I saw the exact same jokes recycled in the first episode of The Job, I quit watching, and his roast on Comedy Central was bloodless and limp. He looked and talked like a washed up Hollywood cokehead producer. I figured it was over.

So you can imagine my surprise to see him absolutely tearing up the screen from the first scene of this series. I'm really glad to see him on his game so lucidly here. This is the best stuff I think he's ever done; his character, Tommy Gavin, is complex and shady and hugely charismatic. The more he acts like a fucker, the more you want him to find a way out of it. This is largely because Leary is more visceral and engaging here than I've ever seen him - or any television actor in recent memory.

The supporting cast is incredible as well. The group of personalities is hugely diverse but remains believable because of the similarities they all share, and pretty much every character is totally owned and invested in by the actors.

Well, the male actors. My main problem with the series so far is that none of the women are interesting or sympathetic in the slightest. Leary's estranged wife is a whining, mealy-mouthed control freak; his best friend's widow is shrewish and undeveloped. The Woman Firefighter is like Tulip from Preacher - the only point of her character is that she Must Prove Herself Equal Among The Men, but ignores that the only reason we sympathize with the men is because they have their own personalities. They are defined by themselves, not by everyone around them.

Well, that's part of the challenge she must be facing in an environment full of men, right?

Sure, but it's a big mistake to start and stop the character development there. She's more sensitive and emotionally intelligent than the men? Well, fuckin' duh. That's no compelling character trait, my friends. I'm sorry.

Bret Fetzer over at Amazon wrote, "The core theme of the show, however, is how men react to stress--how anger, bragging, competition, sex, and booze pacify their jagged emotions, pulling the firefighters together and isolating them at the same time." I think that's a brilliant distillation of the show. Wish I'd written it.

The last episode... Jesus Christ. I haven't seen anything that made me feel that dark in a while. I gotta see where this is going.
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