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HTF DVD REVIEW: Rescue Me: The Complete 4th Season (1 Viewer)

Scott McAllister

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Rescue Me: The Complete 4th Season




Studio: Sony Pictures Television
Year: 2008
Film Length: 560 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Languages: English 5.1
MSRP: $39.99
Cast: Denis Leary, Michael Lombardi, Tatum O’Neil, Steven Pasquale, Andrea Roth, John Scurti







The Show

FX’s series “Rescue Me” has become synonymous with envelope pushing during its previous three seasons. Appropriately, the only other network-based shows that are in the same category are also part of the FX roster (Nip/Tuck, Dirt, etc). At first glance, it’s easy to mistake the raunchy language and subject matter as a substitute for genuine writing and as just a tactic to pull ratings in. Take a deeper look at the show, and you’ll find a well-conceived and extremely well-presented series.

As with the previous years, the fourth season of “Rescue Me” follows the daily lives and experiences of fictional Ladder 62. The centerpoint of the series is Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary), but followed closely by his colleagues in the firehouse like Kenny “Lou” Shea (John Scurti), Sean Garrity (Steven Pasquale), and Mike Silletti (Mike Lombardi).

The show picks up immediately after the finale of season 3. Tommy is currently under investigation for the fire that burned down the beach house he and Sheila (Callie Thorne) were at during the last episode. He finds himself struggling with his sobriety as well as his eighteen-year-old daughter’s new legality and dating choices. In addition, Tommy and Janet (Andrea Roth) are also trying to deal with a newborn baby that could possibly be either Tommy’s or his deceased brother’s, all while still being the senior firefighter on the ladder.

Anybody who is familiar with the show knows that Tommy will occasionally see the ghosts of his cousin Jimmy, dead firefighters, and more recently his brother Johnny. Oddly, the ghosts don’t seem to make much of an appearance this year as they did in years past although they do have a few juicy scenes with Tommy, specifically one in which he destroys his house trying to put out an imaginary fire.

The storylines are fairly solid throughout the show, but “Rescue Me” does seem to take on a bit of a softer edge this year than before. Make no mistake though, this is still a show that’s willing to push the boundaries in often hilarious as well as moving ways.

Here is the complete episode listing, split across the four discs.

1.Babyface
2.Tuesday
3.Commitment
4.Pussified
5.Black
6.Balance
7.Seven
8.Solo
9.Animal
10.High
11.Cycle
12.Keefe
13. Yaz




Picture Quality

“Rescue Me” follows in the new trend of evening dramas and is presented in a widescreen format. The aspect ratio is carried over to the DVD release in an anamorphic 1.78:1. Given the modern production capabilities, the show looks great on my 60” Grand Vega upconverted to 1080i coming from my Blu-Ray player hooked with HDMI. All the colors are sharp and vibrant, and the contrast really comes out during any of the fire sequences which are almost always in a very dark, murky setting.

Audio Quality

Naturally, a show about firefighters is going to involve some fires, but the vast majority of the series is dialogue between the main players. Since it’s a character driven show and not an action driven show, the emphasis is put on relaying the information through conversations. That having been said, when it’s time for a fire sequence the surrounds and subwoofer really come to life. Following Tommy through a burning building is a surreal experience as the sounds of the fire envelop you through the rear speakers.

Special Features

“Rescue Me” has some pretty solid special features included in the set. As with most TV series releases there’s a whole assortment of deleted scenes (22 to be exact), as well as a gag reel, two “mini-sodes” of other shows, and an interview session with some real life firefighters explaining what their lives are like day in and day out. You also get a great behind the scenes documentary of episode 407 (“Seven”), explaining how the show’s creators used a real-life fire as inspiration, as well as some featurettes on the tools used by firefighters, the women in Tommy's life, and a tour around the set of the show.

The real gem of the bonus goodies is the 30 minute long documentary “Walking Through Fire: The Stories of Rescue Me Season 4”. This featurette breaks down all the major plotlines of the season, how the creators came up with them, and what their direction is hopefully going to be for the upcoming fifth season. There is so much good information here to be enjoyed, but approach with caution: Do not watch this featurette until you’ve finished the whole season. Suffice to say there are major spoilers therein.

Summary

I’ve been watching “Rescue Me” since it first aired, although I admit I fell off a bit during the third season. The one thing that I couldn’t shake from my head while I was watching these episodes is how real everything feels. When I watch other night-time dramas, I always get the feeling that the actors are speaking directly what they memorized from the script. This is not the case with “Rescue Me”. Conversations are littered with “uh’s”, stammering, pauses, and mid-sentence corrections, all of which are things that we do in normal everyday conversation. As I said before, the show doesn’t have quite the harder edge it did in years past, but there’s no mistaking it’s a show made by guys for guys. Some of the topics are humorously taboo, like is it okay to keep a friend’s spouse in the “spank bank”?

All in all, I’d say the fourth season is a success. The stories are good, as is the newly emasculated Tommy. I did get the feeling that some episodes dragged a bit, but there’s still plenty in the tank to make “Rescue Me” one of the better shows on television now. I give this set my full recommendation.
 

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