Friday, December 23, 2011

FTT Off-Topic: Rescue Me

Now on Netflix Instant, it's the full run of the FX drama about New York City fire fighters, which ended in 2011 after seven seasons. I really liked this for the first few years, as the anti-hero aspects of Denis Leary's protagonist wasn't something you saw evreyday, and the willingness of the writing staff to kill off characters meant that you didn't get too set in your ways, or locked into a formula.... but as I was getting to what Oscar Wilde called a grand finally, rather than a grand finale, I came to this realization.

"Rescue Me" is basically the same show as "Sex In The City", only for guys.

Here's how.

> Both are set in New York City, and couldn't really be set anywhere else. Whenever the location goes too far away from the essential main character of New York, it suffers.

> Both shows overuse the main appeal of the show; i.e., plainly unrealistic conversations between the main characters.

> Both shows start off as must-see TV with great writing and casts, and eventually devolve into self-parody.

> Both shows try to be realistic, but eventually toss that to the gutter because showing characters scrambling for cash and living from paycheck to paycheck just isn't in the wheelhouse of television writing for very long at all.

> Both suffer from unrealistic continuity. In season 7 in particular, you even have a news media plot in which coverage of the main protagonist's sordid past is considered, with a plainly irritating wink-wink at the audience over how absurd it would be for one character to have done all of this.

> Both lead character actors (Sarah Jessica Parker and Denis Leary) should, well, not be in lead roles anymore on just looks alone. I'm not trying to be mean about this, but there's a reason why we don't put 50-plus year-olds in lead roles. We're monkeys; we weren't meant to live past age 30 to 35, and there's just a hard-wired visual prejudice against seeing people like that gettting it on. Not to be crass or catty about it, but it's just painful after a while to look at them.

> After a while, the central conceit of the show -- will Parker's character settle down, will Leary's character straighten up -- just fails, and you kind of stop caring quite so much. Maybe there's a dramatic limit for how long you can draw something out, or how many seasons a show can or should last... but honestly, by the middle of season six, I had to fight through the urge of just putting this in the background.

> And yet, having said all of that... both shows are plainly worth watching, with the high points being downright riveting, and win on the merits of being a show you haven't seen before. Blaming it for wearing out its welcome after many years of entertaining you just seems kind of petty.

So if you've got some time to spend (and have already watched "Breaking Bad", which is just the best damn thing ever), give it a spin. But just accept it for what it is, and don't get too irritated with it when it loses steam. And appreciate the fairly solid guy dialogue, the solid amount of quality cougar trim, the solid comic set pieces of guys giving each other crap, the nice plot device of talking to the dead, and more. It' a mixed bag, but one that winds up on the positive.

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