How this show is still running and has a 9.0 overall rating is completely beyond me, it's farcically bad. It starts so strongly and I was absolutely hooked by the first couple of episodes. We join an all-male crew of tough firemen not long after 9/11, they're traumatised by the horror they experienced, they've all lost friends and family and they're trapped in an unbearably macho world where even the slightest sign of emotion is an unforgiveable weakness, doing a job where lethal danger is a daily risk, the main character is even haunted by hallucinations of those he has lost or failed to save. What a fantastic premise I thought, this could be 'The Wire' with firemen I thought, a subtle, character-driven examination of life in the urban western world I thought. I was looking forward to several seasons exploring the traumas of 21st century life and the barriers to healing that we all erect around ourselves, potentially an incisive and even cathartic piece of television.
What you get is a sub-Grey's Anatomy soap opera with no respect for characters, storylines or continuity. This show is utterly riddled with the cancer of modern 'for profit' television: the complete debasement of the original concept in order to wring every last raw, bleeding cent out of the show before discarding the tattered husk with the inevitable 2-part finale when the ratings drop below a predetermined level. It's a disease that corrupts the majority of TV shows but the extent to which 'Rescue Me' is infected is tragic. I watched the first 9 episodes and that was about all I could stand. To say this show is a Soap Opera is an understatement, the story arcs each character catapults along are up and down like rollercoasters where each climb and fall is more irrelevant and more irreverantly dealt with than the last. Here are just a few examples: One character assaults a man and puts him in the hospital, he's at risk of losing his job, but he finds a way to get off the hook, all of a sudden he's got a gambling problem, he had a debt to the mafia when I stopped watching. The main character's daughter is seeing a boy her father dissaproves of, then she's critically injured in a car wreck, then she's fine again, then her father tricks her into breaking up with the boy, then she's a lesbian, she was having relationship difficulties with her girlfriend when I stopped watching.
The main character's father is emotionally distant, he's in a stagnant marriage devoid of communication, he leaves his wife and moves in with his brother and starts having sex with prostitutes, he uses his son to acquire drugs with which he kills a monkey then decides it's all too wild for him, he had moved back in with his wife and was sick of her again when I stopped watching.
The new guy joins the crew, not long afterwards he carries an unconcious man out of a burning building, the man is so keen to thank the new guy that he tries to get him into a threesome with him and his girlfriend, the new guy refuses so the man and his girlfriend trick the new guy and rape him, then suddenly that's not happening any more but look now the new guy is going out with an older woman but uh-oh she has a hot daughter who seduces the new guy but the mother finds out so she throws him out so he naturally moves in with the man who raped him who had just started doing drugs and going psycho WHEN I. STOPPED. WATCHING.
All that in the first 9 episodes!?! Every significant character has equally ridiculous story arcs flying off them in showers of quite pretty, but short lived and ultimately completely irrelevant, sparks. There are 5-show-a-week programmes with revolving door cast lists that have more respect for continuity of plot than this show. All of which is saying nothing of the 'per episode' one off storylines which often try to be 'amusing' and serve no purpose other than to fill up as much time as possible between the meager crumbs of relevant detail which advance the parts of the overarching plot that's actually interesting, all the while vomiting 'amusing' bile all over the original concept of the show. I need give no other example of this than the episode where the guys in the crew got into a penis-size competition which ended with one character removing a device from the genitals of another character with a high powered circular saw. I'm not too keen on the quality of the dialogue either but I think I've made my point. On the plus side most of the acting is ok, the male lead is far better than the show deserves, the music is good, what action there is is exciting.
In conclusion this show is a prime example of the lament of modern television: if only it had been a miniseries. And how true that is of so many, many shows. If you took the original concept and told the writers they had 12 episodes to make their point and get out you just might end up making classic television, as it is this stuff is flimsy, disposable and unwatchable.