Thursday, June 21, 2007

Limp alibi

If it seems like I took a TV break following The Sopranos finale, that assumption would be half-right. I actually spent some time catching up with summer's best show, the Denis Leary post-9/11 firefighter drama Rescue Me. I resisted initially because of Leary's got some some scary dramatic skeletons in his closet (Two if by Sea anyone?) and I've never found myself particularly drawn to police or firefighter dramas, but I overcame my trepidation and am thankful, as it truly is the best thing on these summer months - thanks in part, naturally, to the top-notch soundtrack.

Take for instance in last week's season premiere episode, when the floor blows is blown out from beneath the 62 crew, they're left dangling, holding on for dear life. When the The B-52's song "Dance this Mess Around" is juxtaposed over this tense moment, each firefighter seemingly dances with death, scrambling to try and save their own life (and a cat or two.) Most drama's would play it safe and pick a histrionic song to play to the viewers emotions, but in this case their choice was both bold and perfect. As each firefighter fell into the flames, the music softened the blow just as much as the pile of stuffed animals they landed on below. Later on, the episode ends with The Del Fuego's (should've been) classic "Backseat Nothing," reminding us that singer/guitarist Dan Zanes used to play rock for adults before he started working for Disney.

Leary (and co-creator/writer Peter Tolan) don't like to play by the rules (Tolan wrote a lot of great The Larry Sanders Show episodes hinting at this,) and last season was no exception. It's the blackest of comedy dramas on TV right now, and any given episode you'll be confronted with revenge sex, racial slurs, addictions of all kinds - you name the taboo, and they've looked at it without flinching. While the first two episodes this season have nothing as controversial as the scene where Leary's Tommy rapes his own wife in last season, there's still porn, masturbation, racial slurs, autism and erectile disfunction to piss off the politically correct. But it's all in such a context as to be offensive only to those not familiar with each characters' heart and dysfunction. You could call it a soap opera for dudes.

This last episode helped resolve the season finale with a case of erectile dysfunction - to stay out of jail, Tommy has to admit he couldn't get it up, but deep down, he knows this to not be true. We all know it's not true... not just because it's one of Sheila's lies, but also because how else could Tommy get the likes of Andrea Roth, Callie Thorne, Marisa Tomei, Jennifer Esposito and (making an appearance later this season) Gina Gershon. The typing the names made me straighten up in my chair. Also referenced in the episode was Brooklyn streetball legend Jack "Black Jack" Ryan, who is considered one of the greatest basketball players ever to not play in the NBA (video.) And finally, the episode ended with TV on the Radio's "Wolf Like Me" which could've made a great theme song for the series (not that "C'mon C'mon" is chopped liver,) perfectly describing Tommy's cursed existence:
Got a curse I cannot lift
Shines when the sunset shifts
When the moon is round and full
Gotta bust that box gotta gut that fish
My mind's aflame...
Playlist: Rescue Me - Eps 401-402
1. "Dance This Mess Around" - The B-52's - The floor falls out from the crew and they fall into the flames one by one
2. "Backseat Nothing" - The Del Fuegos - Tommy goes to meet with Sheila about the fire
3. "Wolf Like Me" - TV On The Radio - Tommy commandeers a fire engine and the crew rides out to find his daughter

More: I totally missed the short lived series Leary and Tolan did called The Job, but after experiencing Rescue Me, this has moved to the top of my Netflix que.

Previously: Dulli lights Leary's fire (Rescue Season 2 on DVD/Season 3 soundtrack

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