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Debating 'Rescue Me'

''Rescue Me'': Love it or hate it? -- Two EW writers debate the Denis Leary's drama

''Rescue Me'': Love it or hate it?

There's less doom and gloom in season 3 of Rescue Me, and Dalton Ross says FX's firefighter drama is better off for it. But where there's smoke, there's ire, as the obscene amount of sexy shenanigans taking place has Nicholas Fonseca seeing red.

LOVE IT
What made Rescue Me such a rush when it debuted in 2004 was its perfect balance of intense emotional drama and ridiculous comedy. And then came the bummer known as season 2. Whether it was Tommy's (Denis Leary) son dying, Franco's daughter almost dying, or the chief's Alzheimer's-afflicted wife slashing her wrists, the whole affair turned into one big depress-orama. Thankfully, the cloud has lifted. With Lou learning yoga, Sean being mistaken for a zombie, and Uncle Teddy loving life behind bars, the show has learned to have fun again. That's not to say it can't still get down and dirty (witness Tommy's survivor guilt and the chief's financial woes), but these story lines now mix in a few laughs along the way. True, I'm still not sure where the hell Susan Sarandon went, and the Probie-gone-gay arc felt awfully forced, but these are minor complaints. And while it was certainly disturbing seeing Tommy rape his ex-wife (and her enjoy it), this is Rescue Me — it's supposed to be disturbing. Just not all the time. — Dalton Ross

LOATHE IT
This season, Rescue Me's eternally horny Tommy Gavin has fended off the advances of his cousin's widow, screwed around with his teenage nephew's teacher/lover, ignited a liaison with his ex-sister-in-law, and — depending on how you interpreted the most controversial scene of the FX drama's third year — raped his ex-wife. And we haven't even gotten to the ditzy blabbermouth he took home for sex and promptly silenced by duct-taping her yapper. The speed at which Rescue Me has gone from searing post-9/11 psychodrama to inane freak show has given me whiplash; indeed, what should be the season's most affecting story lines (Lou's battle with the bottle, Teddy's stint in the slammer, the Probie's experimentation) have devolved into bawdy sideshows. And what of Tommy? Sure, he's charismatic, but how much more abuse are the women in his life willing to take? To be fair, Rescue Me remains one of TV's most intriguing dramas. But let me offer one piece of advice: Pull up your pants, guys, and get back to the real work at hand.

Originally posted Aug 11, 2006 Published in issue #891-892 Aug 18, 2006 Order article reprints