FX's `Rescue Me' heats up for another season

May 30, 2006|By PHIL KLOER | PHIL KLOER,COX NEWS SERVICE

Rescue Me (10 p.m. tonight, FX) is one of the most overlooked dramas on TV, but it swaggers nonetheless. This testosterone-spiked story of New York firefighters is steeped in post-Sept. 11 recovery issues, bristling with locker-room language and humor and unfairly ignored at awards time.

At its heart is motor-mouthed stand-up comic Denis Leary, the show's co-creator and star. Leary lost a cousin who was a firefighter and runs two firefighters' charities, but his character, Tommy Gavin, is a spectacular mess - a charismatic but deeply flawed guy, a rescuer in need of being rescued.

As season three starts tonight, this is what Tommy's to-do list should look like, if he knows what's good for him:

Take those Alcoholics Anonymous meetings seriously. A major-league drinker, Tommy's been reluctantly going to meetings, but he's going through the motions.

Say goodbye to your ghosts. Tommy is literally haunted by dead people he's known, mainly his cousin Jimmy (James McCaffrey), a fellow fireman who died in the World Trade Center.

Stay away from Jimmy's hot but disturbed wife, Sheila (Callie Thorne). Firefighters have a strict rule: Don't sleep with the widows of your fallen colleagues. Tommy and Sheila broke that rule. A lot.

Quit smoking. In tonight's premiere, the firehouse must become a smoke-free workplace, and all the firemen quit simultaneously. That should go smoothly.

Put Dad in a home. Charles Durning plays Tommy's wild Irish father, who's usually drunk on booze, his own self-pity or both.

Be careful of those guest stars. Sure, Tatum O'Neal is back as your very dysfunctional sister, and Susan Sarandon and Marisa Tomei both join the cast this season. None of these women are likely to be good for Tommy.

Do all this later. If you do it now, it won't be Rescue Me anymore.

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