Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rescue Dad

Don't look closely and the only thing Rescue Me — the Denis Leary TV star-turn as a scarred NYC firefighter — doesn't seem to be about is fatherhood. There are ghosts and infidelity and the ripping off of scabs before they have hardened into emotional scars and man-humor and anger ... lots of anger. But you can't get away from fatherhood and the fifth season begins with the funeral for Leary's TV dad, who died at a baseball game last season just as father and son seemed to be finding peace in their very troubled relationship.

Not surprisingly for the show, Leary's Tommy Gavin character hasn't been the best father. Turning his head for the moment it took for his son to be hit by a drunk driver while riding a bike in the street was one of the least of the mistakes he made, but then a show about a self-hating cauldron of anger never promised an "Eight Is Enough" papa or done-to-death sit-com-dad-as-doofus.

For all the poison that Tommy Gavin has spewed, the one thing that can't be said is that he doesn't love his kids (and in real life Leary seems to have a pretty good relationship with son Jack). In a nutshell, Rescue Me is about a man who's kidnapped his kids, cried for and over them and let them cause him to careen further and faster in the crazy lane. His choices might not be the best, but AT LEAST NOT YET he hasn't tried selling any of them into marriage (and wouldn't that make for an interesting plot twist).

Put that way, maybe the show really is at heart just an episodic tale of the love between father and children?

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