As “Rescue Me” turns the ripe (and terminal) age of 7, you may come to the conclusion (as I did) that this series is long past the days when it could shock, amuse, excite or dumbfound — often in a single scene.
The brutal narcissism of the main character, firefighter Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary), has worn thin (he was more interesting when he drank), and Leary’s actorly tics — the halting voice, like he’s midpoint in some stand-up anecdote — feel a bit annoying.
You also may wonder (as I did) how much more anger, insanity, stupidity — all in the name of repressed guilt for long-fallen comrades — can any one character exhibit before you’ve had enough?
But we’ve stuck with “Rescue Me” this long — no point in bailing in its final season.
In tonight’s episode, Tommy’s wife Janet is very much pregnant and drops an ultimatum before him, while the firefighters of 62 Truck are wondering why there hasn’t been a fire in weeks.
This episode is a weak start, but the show gets into a groove when Maura Tierney’s Kelly McPhee returns in the second episode. Tierney — who left NBC’s “Parenthood” in 2009 after undergoing cancer treatment — completed this arc playing a woman who lost her daughter and (presumably) has incurable cancer.
Tierney’s role is so strong that you may start to get the impression (as I did) that the most compelling story in this final leg is hers, not Tommy’s.
Verne Gay is a Newsday staff writer.
The seventh season of “Rescue Me” debuts tonight at 10 p.m. on FX