Rescue Me
Credit: Larry Riley

Was the writers’ strike a blessing in disguise for Rescue Me? After the glorious ballpark finale to a maddeningly uneven, all-over-the-map season 4, this fan at least was ready to call it a game. A creative breather for this once-great series seemed entirely in order, thanks be to the Writers Guild. Yet now Denis Leary is back from counting chads on HBO, and Tommy Gavin & Co. are back…in 10 five-minute “minisodes” on FX (also available at me). And darned if it isn’t good to see the crew, albeit in small doses.

The premise of last night’s kickoff minisode was niftily bare-bones: feast vs. famine in the firehouse. The feast being a platter of homemade fresh doughnuts (courtesy of Kenny “Lou” Shea), and the famine…Sean’s self-purifying “cleanse” from food, booze, and caffeine. (To rid himself of the accumulated toxins from his misbegotten marriage to Maggie, perhaps?) The outcome of the clash between appetite and abstinence was, of course, predictable. Less predictably, Denis Leary took a backseat to John Scurti (pictured) as the rascally voice of temptation and to Steven Pasquale, looking like the pained recipient of a high colonic. Also to my surprise, the best line of the minisode came not from Leary but from Larenz Tate’s Black Sean, who pegged reformist Sean as a “white Gandhi.” The rest of the minisode, to my mind, could’ve used a dollop more of that George Carlin-esque venom sprinkled among the toilet humor, but all in all, it was refreshing to see Rescue Me return to its true-blue-collar heart: guys sitting around jawing (and drinking, and smoking, and cussing).

Questions, of course, linger. Who, or what, gave Sean the notion of fasting? (Oddly enough, I was recently privy to a conversation between two colleagues on the putative health benefits of the practice.) Who knew Mr. Dipspit, i.e., Needles, chewed tobacco in a house of incorrigible smokers? And where was crusty Chief Feinberg? Off to fetch Amy Sedaris’ legendary home-baked cupcakes? (Consider this a plug for their return, along with Gina Gershon, Artie Lange, and, yes, Tatum O’Neal.)

So what’s your verdict, PopWatchers? Did last night’s minisode leave you patting your stomach and holding out for seconds—or running for the bathroom? (Should Buffalo Wild Wings reconsider its commercial sponsorship, given last night’s queasy potty talk?) Who are you yearning to see in future installments? And was FX on the mark in slotting in Rescue Me before Morgan “Super Size Me” Spurlock‘s meaty docuseries?

addCredit(“John Scurti: Larry Riley”)

Episode Recaps

Rescue Me
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