Rescue Me is one of those shows that I’ve seen from start to finish several times over. It is a show I consider to be one of the greats, and one I always recommend to people looking for a new show to get into. It’s a show about family, loss, grief, dysfunction, and much more. It’s an over-the-top show that ropes you in with all of its well-written and interesting characters. The show’s writing is up there with the best of the best. On top of that, the ensemble cast features a host of characters, each one playing an important role in driving the narrative forward. Tommy Gavin, as I’ve said before, is one of the very best characters ever written for a TV series. On the one hand, hes the every-man that everyone can relate to, but his other persona is an over-the-top hard fighting, hard drinking, daredevil, flying into burning buildings and carrying a saved person over each shoulder as he explodes from the rubble.
All of the supporting characters are equally well-written and are each given a specific purpose. The firefighters of NYPD 62 Truck are comprised of some very talented character actors who bring life into their characters, including little eccentricities that remain with them throughout the run of the show. Other than Tommy Gavin, we have Lieutenant Kenneth “Lou” Shea, played by John Scurti is the brains of the operation, and also the in-house chef. He is usually the voice of reason, and talks Tommy down when he’s flipped his lid. Franco Rivera played by Daniel Sunjata, who has been a regular in procedurals for as long as I can remember. He’s the resident 9/11 truther and ladies man. His character is important to the story progression in several ways, but that’s the thing about this show, most of the characters are very important. Franco is one of my favorite characters on the show, and Sunjata plays him perfectly.
Sean Garrity is one of the “dumb” members of 62 truck. He’s really not that dumb, but he is a little slow at grasping things. He’s also a hell of a firefighter, and he becomes an important part of the show via marriage, when he marries Tommy’s crazy sister and becomes part of the Gavin tribe. Mike Silletti, played by Mike Lombardi is the second half of the “dumb” duo. He has the label of “probie” hanging over his head, as well as his sexual confusion and other things that makes his character interesting. Also coming into the mix later into the series is “Black Shawn” AKA Bart, played by Larenz Tate. He becomes important to the story because he was crazy enough to court and marry Tommy’s daughter, Colleen, played by Natalie Distler. Colleen literally grows up on screen, coming in as nothing but a kid, and going out as an adult of her own making. Colleen inherited the attitude from her mother, and at no point does she make it seem like she can be tamed or even listen to reason.
My favorite character of the show is Sheila, played by Callie Thorne. Callie is what I feel to be one of the sexiest women to ever walk the earth, and she makes the character of Sheila her own. Sheila is the widow of Tommy’s cousin and best friend Jimmy who died when the tower collapsed on 9/11. It’s considered taboo in the firefighting community for any firefighter to be involved romantically with any of the widows of those that died, but Tommy can’t help himself with Sheila, and I can’t say that I blame him. They’re terrible for each other and they bring out the worse in each other, but normally in life, that’s where all the magic happens. They have an on-again-off-again relationship all throughout the show. Tommy’s wife Janet, played by Andrea Roth, is also quite sexy, but her character is such a bitch that it’s hard to see her that way, unless she’s wearing something skimpy. “Overdemanding” would be an understatement when referring to Janet. She basically wants the world handed to her, and expects Tommy to ask no questions while doing so.
I could go on longer than I should about the amazing characters featured in this show, including Johnny Gavin, Tommy’s cop brother, or Tommy’s dad, Teddy. Some of the best moments in the show the entire extended family is together and drinking hard. The Gavin family can put some booze down, and at several points in the show someone is shown as having a major problem with drinking. Tommy’s daughter Colleen picks up the family habit as well, and the drinking is basically shown in the show not in a glamorous way, but to quite Homer Simpson, “The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” Maybe the show does glamorize drinking a tad, but the consequences are always present, and probably half of the reason for the show’s existence in the first place. So much of the show takes place at AA that you’d think the producers are sponsors of the program. What I’m saying here is, there’s a lot of drinking, and it’s played for both dramatic and comedic effect, but you’re always shown what comes after, and it’s never pretty.
One of the central pieces of Rescue Me is 9/11. 9/11 and the firefighters response on that day is pretty much the inspiration for the show in the first place. Most of the show shows what it’s like to deal with grief and loss, and what firefighters who survived 9/11 go through in their every day lives. Apparently most of them like to fight and drink and screw, which makes for an entertaining show that could only ever have existed on FX. FX produces and has produce some of the greatest shows to ever grace the small screen, and Rescue Me is no exception. If you were to ask me for a list of my 10 favorite television shows of all time, Rescue Me would be sitting pretty in the top five, and I have no doubts about that whatsoever. The characters are interesting as we’ve established, the writing is top notch, and the production values are well beyond the actual budget. Rescue Me is a show that will be remembered for a long time to come, and I’m so glad that I was given an excuse to revisit it.