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Denis Leary's 'Sirens' needs a rescue

From left, Kevin Bigley as Brian Czyk, Kevin

From left, Kevin Bigley as Brian Czyk, Kevin Daniels as Hank St. Clare, Michael Mosley as Johnny Farrell in "Sirens." Credit: USA Network / F. Scott Schafer

THE SHOW "Sirens"

WHEN|WHERE Premieres Thursday night at 10 on USA

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Three Chicago EMTs, who are buddies, colleagues and confidants, tend to be more fixated on their private lives than their work. Tomorrow night, for example, they talk obsessively about their sex drives -- the value of pornography, for example, as it relates to that -- while saving people.

They are Johnny (Michael Mosley), who's dating Theresa (Jessica McNamee), a cop; Hank (Kevin Daniels), their putative boss; and Brian (Kevin Bigley), who tends to be either innocent or simple-minded. (Jean Smart and Lenny Clarke, as Michael's parents, turn up later.) If this newcomer occasionally sounds like, looks like or is structured like "Rescue Me," there's a reason: "Sirens" was adapted from a Britcom by "Rescue Me's" Denis Leary and Bob Fisher ("Wedding Crashers").

MY SAY "Sirens" is strictly for hard-core Leary fans (and if I have to explain to you what that means, this show is really, truly, most definitely not for you). There's lots of over-the-top vulgarity, incendiary anger and in-your-face dialogue that offers no comfort and seeks no prisoners. Leary -- who doesn't star here but doesn't really need to because you can hear his voice in every line -- can be raucously, scabrously funny, but none of the first three episodes of "Sirens" sent out for review really qualify. Of those three, tomorrow's is the weakest -- basically a conga line of crotch jokes that aim below the belt and mostly land there with predictably painful consequences. Leary is better than this.

The later episodes -- the better ones, as it turns out -- are structured along the lines of a standard Leary rift: the shaggy dog story that doesn't have a beginning, end or rationale but plenty of detours and dead-ends. When this works (as it did so often in "The Job" or "Rescue Me"), it can be very funny. When it doesn't, it can be an endurance test.

BOTTOM LINE Overtones of "Rescue Me," absent the wit and bite.


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