Monday, April 19, 2010

Rescue Me Season 2

There are two ways a second season can go. The show runners either solidfy and refine what made the show work so well in the first place and produce one of the show’s best seasons (Breaking Bad, Buffy, The Wire) or they realize that they never thought they’d get past the pilot stage, much less through an entire season and create one of the shows worst (Lost, 24). Unfortunately the second season of Rescue Me is in the latter camp.

After a strong first episode which finds Tommy Gavin hitting bottom with astonishing enthusiasm, the show loses its footing, getting mired in the two biggest traps that a second season can fall into; subplots that go absolutely no where, and characters acting stupid. In the former category we have some honeys, including one in which Tommy Gavin finds out that he has a long lost brother (no really) who is a pedophile priest (yes really) and falls briefly in love with the woman who might be his sister (…). True to form, like all the best kind of stupid plots once its resolved, in its inimitable over wrought fashion, its never mentioned again. The other dumb supblot involving, the big hearted Lou falling for a prostitute, is handled so poorly that if you don’t see the end coming you’ve probably never seen a TV show before. Or for that matter read a book, watched a movie, or been outside. And lets not even get into Shelia's affair with an abusive lesbian. This is the kind of frantic flaying for plots that a show does in one of its last seasons not one of its first.

But pedophile priests and good common sense aren’t the only things getting Poochied this season. Laura Miles, the one female firefighter may not turn to the camera and claim “My home planet needs me.” But she stops just short. It’d be easy to say that the writers didn’t know what to do with “the woman” anymore then the crew did, but  ironically she was one of the few characters that they where still writing well. I can only assume that this was some kind of contract dispute (the fact that the actress jumped onto Numbers around the same time doesn’t seem like a coincidence) but come on if that’s the case have her die in a fire, or something get some oomph out of it. To make matters worse, she gets replaced in the female sector in the show (if not on the actual squad) with Tatum O’Neil, an actress I actually like, but whose just God awful here as Tommy's bitchy siser.

The entire season is more of the same but less, for example Tommy’s visitations with the dead have been replaced from visits from Jesus and Mary Magdalane. The problem is, that we and the writers have no idea what to make of these visions. While the ghosts from season 1 where an effective and clear, if crude, metaphor there’s no similar correlation here. Are they Tommy’s Catholic guilt? His better nature? Or actually divine intervention? I don’t know, and I have a sneaking suspicion Dennis Leary doesn’t either.

That’s the real problem with Rescue Me's second season, its just so damn inconsistent with its characters. Everyone does stuff that you can’t believe, and I mean that in a very fundemental way. Would Shelia really go from the standard loud working class ITie type, to one boiled bunny away from Fatal Attraction? Would Tommy’s wife really fall into his arms after the romantic gesture of kidnapping his kids? Would Probie really lose about fifty IQ points inbetween the two seasons? Would Tommy’s Brother really screw Tommy’s wife with his nephew not even cold? The answer is of course- No. Of course they wouldn’t. That’s just stupid. Why are you having these characters say and do stupid things?

The show does find some unlikely good points, once again in Jerry, who at first appeared to be the show’s most one dimensional character, and has slowly turned into its most complex. The depiction of him dealing with his wife’s illness is a touching and real look at the disease, and the subplot involving him coming to terms with his gay son is also handled with sensitivity. This is again tough material to do right, but Rescue Me pulls it off. He doesn’t “accept” his son or breakdown, or whatever his time of character is supposed to do. He just does the math and discovers that he loves his son more then he hates him for being Gay.

The show is finally able to pull things together in its last two episodes. Where the death of his son is handled so well, that you can almost ignore that they more or less did the exact same thing last season with Tommy’s daughter. It briefly snaps the whole of the show into focus.

Yes a dead child is enough to give me hope (that came out wrong) and try again for the next season. But if things don’t improve, look for Rescue Me to be the biggest disappointment, in a show’s potential versus its realization since Heroes.

No comments: