'Rescue Me' Flames Out


Tommy Gavin hasn't had too many good days in the three seasons of "Rescue Me" -- so few, in fact, that Denis Leary, who plays Tommy and co-created the FX series, chuckles at the notion.

"We've talked about what would it be like," Leary says. "It's one of the things we're talking about for next year, if everything went great for everybody for a little while -- everybody was in love, everybody was monogamous, everybody was having a great time at the firehouse and what would that be like."

His co-creator, Peter Tolan, confirms it's an idea they've batted around, but that "only means that it's going to fall apart spectacularly."

If Tommy is to have a good day, it'll have to happen next season, because the current season of "Rescue Me," which concludes Tuesday, does not go out on an up note (and that's all we should probably say). The show does offer some closure about the future of the firefighters at 62 Truck, but there's a cliffhanger as well.

"[With] cliffhangers, you always have to figure two things. One is there's always an element of false jeopardy in a cliffhanger because you know, for example, we're probably not going to kill Tommy," Tolan says. "I'm not saying for sure we're not going to, but we probably won't. Then you have to say, 'What is it going to get you next season?' And we've already decided that there are a number of things that we're going to get from that incident that we end on that are going to be fun to run with."

As a producer, Leary's also hoping the season finale keeps people "on the line" for next season, which will roll around next year. As an actor and writer, though, he's looking forward to where the season's ambiguous ending can go.

"I'm a huge fan of 'The Sopranos,'" Leary says, "and my favorite 'Sopranos' seasons have always kind of ended with a lot of doubt or a lot of configurations that are possible in the next time you see the characters."

Like a lot of "Rescue Me" episodes, the finale packs a lot in, swinging from drama to comedy and back again. Some of the humor in the finale comes from Tolan himself, who plays the house's new chief, Pecher (pronounced "Pe-share," as he notes in the episode), in the wake of Jerry's (Jack McGee) heart attack.

"Can I say something about that?" Leary asks. "A lot of actors are real pains in the asses. Some of them aren't, but a lot of them are. Especially if you're bringing somebody in new, you don't know what they're like, blah, blah, blah. ... So rather than having to go through an auditioning process and get some pain in the ass actor, I was saying to Peter, 'If you just come up with some guy, come up with something, we need you.' So in he comes."

The episode also includes a moment of remembrance for the firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11, as the crew stops by a memorial on the side of a fire house in lower Manhattan (out of respect, the show created a replica of the memorial for filming).

"We want to be careful all the time about using 9/11 as a story engine, because it is obviously a bigger event that deserves more respect than that," Tolan says. "But the fact is the part of the American psyche is, 'You know what, that was a terrible thing that happened. But you know we're going to get over it, we're going to put it behind us, we're going to rise above it.' And part of that for a lot of people seems to involve forgetting about it. And that's the thing that we're not going to let happen."

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