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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Rescue Me: Season 5, Vol. 1'
(Denis Leary, Mike Lombardi, Steven Pasquale, Daniel Sunjata, John Scurti, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2009 / Sony Pictures)

Overview: Conspiracy theories about 9/11 ruffle more than a few feathers, brought on by the arrival of an intriguing foreigner. Under the shadow of a haunting past, the crew continues to look to the future and realize that salvation often lies where you least expect it.

Verdict: Denis Leary's enflamed New York city firefighter Tommy Gavin is back. I find Tommy Gavin an interesting character but at times it is frustrating that nothing of Denis Leary the stand-up comic with the zingers at the ready and the educated man (MFA from Emerson college) shows through. I suppose this shows Leary's commitment to Gavin as a character.

Perhaps more than any other factor, what shows in this season is Gavin as a substance abuser, an alcoholic. He is in AA and he is out of AA. He fights with the priest constantly about their problems with alcohol. The other firemen open a bar and he gets involved with it and drinking there. His girlfriend allows him to drink but his wife does not. An unrecognizable Michael J. Fox does a brilliant job of playing Gavin's wife's new boyfriend who is wheelchair bound. He and Gavin briefly bond as maimed characters on just about every level, including substance abuse. It's hard to upstage Leary but Fox manages it. I was sad that Fox did not become a permanent character on the series but I suppose he was not interested in doing tv long term. Maybe they can bring him back next season for a few episodes as well since he was not killed off.

Gavin the firefighter is also on considerable display in this season. Perhaps his inability to conquer his inner demons is what makes him courage personified with rescuing people in burning buildings. He can even cope with burned bodies which other firemen can't face without becoming ill.

The least satisfying aspect of this series is Gavin's continuing problems with his girlfriend and his wife and the other few women who briefly alight in his life. I can't stand either the wife or the girlfriend as characters and would be happy if somehow they were eliminated from this series. I wish they would bring back Tatum O'Neal more, Gavin's sister. At least she was a female character with whom we could sustain interest.

Of the other firefighters, Sean is the most interesting one in this season because he gets cancer (probably from 9/11 exposure) but must get surgery on the sly because he wants to remain in the fire department as a fighting fireman. We also discover that Sean can SING in some very imaginative dream sequences while he is unconscious. Kenny wants to marry a prostitute and the Chief is married to a promiscuous woman he brought over from Russia. This seems very strange to me and I have no idea if this bears any relationship to what choices real firefighters would make as to women to marry. That they are able to convince themselves that they can reform these women is black comedy. [CI] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the following Special Features:

Walking Thru Fire: Surviving Season 5
Deleted Scenes
Danny Does Danger: The Stunts of "Rescue Me"
Gag Reel