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'Rescue Me' minisode recap: Strained bedfellows

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I confess: Last night’s Rescue Me minisode left me with a distinctly acrid morning-aftertaste. After last week’s pungent gumbo of guilt, self-denial, and macho taunting, early signs pointed to another heaping portion of firehouse comedy, this time delving into Tommy’s libidinous id. (I must admit my interest was further piqued by learning that Denis Leary & Co. had been filming in my Brooklyn nabe.) And indeed, the minisode started off promisingly in a lush dream sequence that invoked Swingtown (minus the ’70s shag and polyester): Tommy in a threesome with Sheila and not-so-estranged Janet. As one would expect, sexual humiliation soon arrived, in the form of a buff and eager Mikey. The rest of the minisode, however—with Tommy awakening (?) to be confronted by unwanted bunkmate Sean, then by Franco (in the Needles role of straight man), ad finally by marriage-minded Mikey—smelled like leftover doughnuts to me. Mikey’s sexually tinged clinginess toward Tommy had already been mined for yuks last season; the theme of homoerotic male bonding feels tapped at this point.

Then again, perhaps I’m feeling discombobulated that Gina Gershon was nowhere to be seen in Tommy’s dream. (Too busy refuting those rumors of a hookup with Bill Clinton, perhaps?) On the upside, Janet’s return raised prospects of continued romantic sparks (hey, who knows, especially if her real estate business falls prey to the recession). Black Sean’s zingers were a bright spot, like last week–and raised hopes of a future dramatic entanglement with Tommy’s rebellious daughter Colleen. And if Tommy’s “morning wood” turned out to be a case of genuine bi-curiosity, that might lead season 5 in a new and interesting direction.

What do you think, PopWatchers? Did last night’s minisode (embedded below…it’s a tad NSFW) leave you tantalized, titillated, or simply nonplussed? And if these mini-eps are whetting your appetite, what other series could benefit from the micro-treatment? How about a five-minute Jack Bauer interrogation on 24 or a quickie House call or even a beat-down on The Shield? Hey, a fella can dream…