Release Date: June 05, 2007
Starring: Denis Leary, Daniel Sujata, James McCaffrey, Jack McGee, Michael Lombardi, Steve Pasquale, John Scurti, Lee Tergesen, Dean Winters, Andrea Roth, Callie Thorne, Lenny Clarke, Charles Durning
Guests: Susan Sarandon, Marisa Tomei, Tatum O’Neal, Kate Burton, Reverend Al Sharpton
Written/Produced by: Peter Tolan
Directed by: Stefen Fangmeier
Play with fire, you get burned.
As I was passing in and out of the staff room at work the other day, I spoke to a few coworkers who had just found out I’ve been a volunteer firefighter for just over nine years now. Being one of only five males on our fifty-person staff, I got the usual questions of “are all firefighters hot?” or “can we do our special events naked?” I had a chuckle. Um, no. My question to them is if they would truly want to see some of the firefighters naked. You can say that some of the guys over the years have, uh, let it all hang out at the waist. So I shattered their images of washboard hose-strapped firefighter calendar boys to something of the Joe-six pack sort. But then a comment caught my attention; I was told that firefighters (and police officers) are the worst for cheating on their spouses. That caught my attention because I haven’t heard that before so I was wondering what the basis for the argument was. Hearsay, really. But is this true?
Like any shift work, firefighters don’t get it easy. It’s a rough job with long days spent away from home. This can be taxing on the home life with wives and children (because I’m going to generalize that most firefighters are men). The lives of these firefighters also make great stories for cable television too, and that’s how Rescue Me eventually found its way. I’ve heard talk about this show since it’s beginning in 2004 but had yet to view an episode. I’m quite pleased that my first viewing is in high def on Blu-ray disc even though it’s the third season.
In short, Rescue Me is about the men who work in a New York City fire station. The main character is Tommy Gavin (Leary) whose life seems to be falling apart. His marriage is in ruins, his son is dead from a hit-and-run accident, and his father’s health is getting worse by the day. Basically, this guy is all tragedies in one. In this season, we see that he continues his neurotic relationship with his cousin’s widow Sheila (Thorne) while having an affairs with her son’s teacher (and lover) as well as his brother’s ex-wife (Tomei). Not to be topped, his brother Johnny (Winters) romances Tommy’s ex-wife, Franco’s (Sunjata) new girlfriend (Sarandon) takes his daughter, and Mike (Mike Lombardi) explores his sexuality. Wow! Maybe the gossip about firefighters is true??!!
The four discs are nicely packed into a case double the thickness of a standard BD case. A four-page insert lists the episodes and synopsis. There is a flipper on the inside holding two discs that is quite sturdy. My only complaint (as with the fabulous Planet Earth set) is the discs are hard to snap off that center piece. I feel like I’m about to break the disc pulling it off and putting pressure on the center piece doesn’t seem to do much.
Episodes included are:
VIDEO QUALITY: 4/5
This AVC MPEG-4 encode of the 1080p video looks great. There are no problems that I can pick out that are compression related, although I will say that I’m not entirely impressed with the HD video quality. Many scenes are dim, and I’m guessing that HD cameras still don’t always do to well in dim lighting. Details seem to be lacking and the image is a bit noisy at times compared to the outdoor brightly-lit shots that look great. Colours are fabulous in these outdoor shots, but seemed slightly subdued in the darker interiors. These nitpicks aren’t huge by any means, but are certainly worth the mention. Seeing that HD television programs are just now making it to Blu-ray in their full HD glory (instead of the absolutely awful compressed mess on cable), I don’t have a whole lot to compare this title to at this point. So comparing it to the best looking movies I’ve seen in HD, I’m knocking off a point from a full score. I’d even be so bold to give it a 3.5 but I’m not going to at this time. The score could very well diminish to that as more TV programs become available, but as of now, this title does look very good.
AUDIO QUALITY: 3/5
Both uncompressed PCM and compressed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks are included for each episode. Unfortunately, at this time I’m only able to access to Dolby Digital soundtrack because it’s an undisputable fact that uncompressed lossy codecs are not transparent and I’ve experienced it first hand in my system when I first started reviewing Sony Blu-ray discs last year on a different BD player. Dolby delivers this sound mix well, but it’s not a very exciting one. Many scenes are dialogue but the mix does go out of its way to make sure there is some low level activity coming from each channel most of the time. This increases the ambience felt and puts the viewer on the streets more so than if it were based more in the front three channels. Sounds of sirens and honking are commonly heard as well as wind blowing, etc. – anything to make it sound more real. This was consistent on all the episodes I watched.
The sound gets active for brief moments – generally when the firefighters are crawling around in burning rooms. You can hear the crackle of the flames and the smashing of objects. There is a level of realism the sound mix is trying to create, although having been in these situations many times; I can tell you that it’s still not enough!
Dialogue is nicely recorded although sometimes sounds distorted. I think it’s a bit of a mix of set dialogue and rerecording. The lower midrange is heavy giving the dialogue a sometimes ‘thuddy’ sound (that might be a side effect from the Dolby decode, I always notice more prominent midrange). It’s integrated enough with the rest of the channels to create an almost seamless soundstage.
The recording quality overall is good. Effects and music sound nicely balanced and have good resolution. Bass is strong in the main channels but there isn’t much LFE which is a bit of a disappointment because I was looking for a bit of a rumble at times.
TACTILE FUN!! ZERO /
TACTILE TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: OFF
There was an insignificant amount of dedicated LFE.
SPECIAL FEATURES: 3/5
The features are spread out over the four discs and are in standard definition encoded in MPEG-2. Disc one includes the first of five featurettes, Behind the Smoke (25.25) which includes interviews with the producer/writer Peter Tolan as well as several members from the cast. They discuss where season two left off and how decisions were made for season three while showing clips interspersed throughout. You’ll also find a Rescue Me Comedy Short (13.23, 4:3lbx) that is quite funny; the boys challenge each others fears while a mysterious and dangerous animal haunts them in their fire hall. It’s shot in HD but not delivered this way. But the On Set Location Tour (10.04) uses an HD menu to navigate through the choices of major locations shot for season three. You’ll be taken on a tour of live locations by the location manager. You can select each location individually or as “play all.” Four deleted scenes are also here. I don’t often watch deleted scenes for television shows because I view television differently than movies, and I find deleted scenes in films more valuable…maybe because I’m more engaged in a movie than I am in a show, and therefore want to know more about the characters’ lives that I haven’t seen before (almost as if they were real people). That’s my view, but deleted scenes are here for those of you interested.
Two features are on disc two: the two and a half minute featurette Being Denis Leary has Leary’s stand in interviewed in a comical way. The other featurette Going to the Gay Place (5.00) examines an inside joke on the set when two actors read their scripts and find out their characters are gay and become lovers. Balls of angry fire fly across the room when they find out.
Disc three salutes the past with the featurette The Bravest Traditions (6.09). Gentlemen from several fire stations are interviewed regarding traditions such as the fire pole, the colour of the fire truck, the Dalmatian, etc. These brave men also describe what it’s like Fighting Fires in a Vertical City (5.29). In the city there are many high-rise buildings, especially in New York. They describe why these fires are treated a lot differently that a house and the difficulties associated with them. Three deleted scenes (4.09) are also included.
After you’ve watched all of the episodes on disc four, you can check out the Blooper Reel (6.26), Behind the Hose (scenes) (8.35), over ten minutes for seven deleted scenes, and a sneak peek at season four that is airing June 12/07 (it’s just a commercial and it doesn’t give too much away). Still showing that there are plans to release these titles, the previews on this disc show yet to be released titles such as Legends of the Fall, Charlies Angels II: Full Throttle, Spider-man 2, The Patriot, Once Upon a Time In Mexico, and Lawrence of Arabia as well as three trailers: S.W.A.T., Casino Royal, Ultraviolet.
IN THE END...
Rescue Me: The Complete Third Season is a nicely packaged and produced Blu-ray television set. It looks good and sounds good, and most of all: it’s a good show to watch. Check it out.
June 02, 2007.