Wednesday, August 08, 2007

In Need Of Rescue?

Long-time blog contributer Zodin2008 posted here yesterday feeling that "Rescue Me" (FX, 10 p.m.) has passed its prime.

I'm not willing to write off the show quite yet, because even when "Rescue Me" is off its game, it's still better than most of the standard fare currently on TV, even with the terrific summer cable has given us with the likes of "Mad Men," "My Boys," "Damages," "Burn Notice," et. al.

The Zodster took a page out of the TV Guy's book of pet peeves, calling the scene about Sean burning down Mike's house unrealistic, and I'd probably have to agree with him on that.

"Rescue Me" has been pretty up and down all season, especially after last year's dark, but riveting, run. The chief was killed off by suicide, and except for one scene at the beginning of the next week's show, was barely touched upon. The show seems to be trying to lighten up, perhaps a bit too much. While there have been some very funny bits regarding Tommy's daughter and the new chief (Jerry Adler), the season overall has been pretty uneven.

But "Rescue Me" can still be riveting, as shown by the fire sequence at the beginning of last week's broadcast. And Denis Leary has still crafted one of the most fascinating lead characters on TV.

So here's hoping "Rescue Me" finds its sea legs and returns to its status as one of TV's best shows.

THE LOT, REVISITED: America, what were you thinking? Voting Zach off with a couple of weeks to go? Seriously?

On the other hand, this is the same society that has made the likes of Tom Green and Pauly Shore stars, so maybe my expectations are a bit too much.

Anyway, with my No. 1 guy gone, it was great to see my 1A guy, Adam, come through with the absolutely best film of the entire competition. Adam's Fellini-esque (great comparison by awesome guest judge F. Gary Gray) dollhouse not just blew me away, but the judges as well. It's the first time all three judges picked the same guy at the end of the show.

The only thing I worry about is whether enough intelligent people recognized Adam's grand slam for what it was and will give him the votes to carry on. But if last night's effort (catch it on if you haven't seen it) doesn't get Adam top representation, then the whole system needs to be reworked.

As for the others, another top-flight effort from Will, which will go unnoticed because Adam just blew away the field; and Sam and Jason both had the same problem, which was a lack of development in their respective second acts. Both of them had viable ideas, but not enough meat in the middle. But since Jason seems to have a lovefest among the show's fans, I'm betting Sam is the one to go next week.

NBC, I LOVE THEE: The PR people at NBC are working overtime, sending me the pilots for "Chuck," "Journeyman," "Life" and "The Bionic Woman," as well as the first three episodes of "Flash Gordon." (These are the original pilots, not the reshot versions that will air this fall.)

I'll have full reports on the NBC stuff next week, and "Flash Gordon" for Friday. But NBC continues to stay in the TV Guy's good graces.

Are you taking note, other networks? Because I have plenty of love to share.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: ABC, which sends me diddly-squat, continues to burn off two shows that it had thought to be surefire hits. In addition to "The Nine," (ABC, 10 p.m.), the network airs two unaired episodes of "Knights of Prosperity" tonight at 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. "Knights" had about as much critical buzz as any show last fall, but thanks to ABC's placing it in one of the worst timeslots imaginable, the show fizzled. It was also pretty overrated; I found it less good than the similarly themed "My Name Is Earl."


zodin2008 said...

Bravo, Phillip, for your criticism of "Rescue Me". You have tended to bash the stuff you hate (like "24" despite watching all 6 seasons!) while needlessly defending stuff you like, even when all other critics are piling on for obvious reasons.

Now I don't watch "House" because watching 2 episodes 4 years ago was enough to never bring me back, but a lot of critics have said they find the show extremely uneven and unworthy of its Emmy nod. But you still backed it.

Now we both like "Rescue Me" so it's refreshing to see you stand outside of that and throw some punches in its direction.

Your description of this season 4 being "wildly uneven" is the understatement of the year.

The Chief's death, the Franco storyline is boring and annoying (and considering what a major talent actor Daniel Sunjata clearly is showing his range playing Reggie Jackson on "The bronx is Burning", "Rescue" is wasting the man), the awful Sean/Probey storyline the last 2 episodes that I just wish I could 'burn' from my memory (pun intended), but the way Tommy is acting this year is the topper.

Supposedly, half the time he's this new age-y kinder, gentler Tommy--the other half the time, he's still the same, angry, effed up Irish firefighter we know & love. Absolutely no sense.

The bottom line is my intention is to start streamilining more and more shows off my TV schedule with a baby coming, and considering what I am seeing out of "Rescue Me" this Summer, I am tempted to cut the show altogether.

zodin2008 said...

Speaking of "The Bronx is Burning", it's been one of the most pleasant surprises of the entire summer.

The best show this Summer, by leaps & bounds is "Mad Men", the show that really may pick up "The Sopranos" mantle, but "Bronx" has been an entertaining little treat. The chemistry and over the top performances by Sunjata, Oliver Platt and John Turturro are terrific and thoroughly addicting.

Phillip Ramati said...

I recognize shows go through creative lulls, and you can't hit a home run every episode. So when a show like Rescue Me has a bad first half of the season, I'm willing to cut it a break because I know the talent in front of and behind the camera, and I have faith they will pick things up.

I don't mindlessly support shows I like and bash shows I don't. I'm not going to get into big debate about this. I said House is one of my favorite shows on TV, and the cast is one of the best. The actors deserved Emmy noms, but I wouldn't have chosen the show itself over things like "Friday Night Lights."

Jonathan said...

I have to back Phil here. The main reason I read your site is because I feel you're a very fair critic and are able to tackle the more intresting aspects of the shows you choose to talk about whether they be highs or lows. Television criticism often gets lumped along with film criticism which is unfortunate because they are two different mediums and have to be approached differently.

The main difference comes with serialized shows such as "Rescue Me" which in the long run have a bigger story to tell than other shows like "House" and your "CSI's" and "Law and Order's" which wrap most of their storylines up in 60 minutes. So, even if the first few episodes of the new season have been less than stellar (Which "Rescue Me" has been to a tee this season), if it's a show you've invested in to this point why not give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that it will come through in the end.

"24" has been an up and down series even in the beginning, and last season was just proof of how bad any show can get off course and feel more repetitive than unique. Recently, I rewatched the first two seasons and while they were overall extremely entertaining, they definately had their low points as well. Anything involving Kim Bauer was the most notable negative. But no matter those faults or the entire sixth season (Which still had it's good points, Peter MacNichol anyone?) when I look back on television shows twenty years from now, "24" will stand out along with shows like "The Sopranos," "Star Trek Deep Space Nine," and "The Shield" as some of the top shows from this era. These are shows that challenged the viewer and introduced a whole new form of storytelling to the television fanatics and general viewers as well. I think "Rescue Me" falls in this category (maybe to a lesser extent), but I think it fits in there all the same.

And as for viewing shows over a long period of time even though you were dissapointed in the overall direction that they took? I am no stranger there, Phil. I can point to my watching the entire run of "Star Trek Voyager", "The X-Files" post Season Five, and my continuinous viewing of "Smallville" as prime examples of lumping me into that club.

Keep up the good work man. Look forward to hearing your opinions on the NBC slate. I am really looking forward to "Chuck;" hope we have another "Alias" on our hands.

Jonathan said...

Oh, and Zod, congrats on the baby. I'm glad to know he/she will be raised on quality television shows.

Phillip Ramati said...

Thanks for the support, Jonathan. Unfortunately, my defense of Rescue Me couldn't have come at a worst time, since I found last night's installment to be the least enjoyable of the entire series. It was all over the place and didn't really hit on any note.

And, word on the street is, Zod's naming his kid "Jean-Luc."

Jonathan said...

You are correct that was not a very good ep.