Adios, Rescue Me

For someone with a lot of family in the Wilkes-Barre area and along the Susquehanna River in general, I’m having a hard time doing anything other than watching the news and finding the latest updates.

But let’s see if we can do it anyway. After reviews of one season finale and another premiere, it’s the weekly (extended) preview of my Sunday column. Enjoy, and it wouldn’t hurt to say a prayer for all those in NEPA that are about to have the longest night of their lives.

And as usual, for the Rescue Me and Sons of Anarchy reviews, the normal SPOILER ALERTS!!! apply. 

remember this?

remember this?

RESCUE ME: It’s been a hard couple years for Rescue Me. It was the only show completely wiped out from the writers strike, postponing its sixth season almost an entire year and then coming back with a very so-so 22-episode megaseason capped off with arguably the worst season finale ever from an FX show. Then it came back for its seventh and final season with just eight episodes, hardly enough to wrap up one of the great shows of the last decade. Well, kinda great. It’s last couple years really hurt the legacy of the show as a whole. So when it started this year by giving us two episodes that barely even forced me to crack a smile, I was pretty well over Rescue Me. But these last three episodes … that’s what the show should have been doing for the last two years. Too often in the last two years, it went for the long, drawn out answers to questions no one was asking, ignoring the problems the show and its characters were actually having. The jokes were forced, unfunny and came from places that were woefully inappropriate. But these last three, starting with Lou going around and reading Tommy’s letters and the hysterical rehearsal party for Colleen and Black Shawn, have been a showcase for the show used to do on a weekly basis. Just about every joke has hit home and every moment that was supposed to be big was big. OK, except for the ridiculous childbirth scene that was so far from reality it went from completely annoying to just a “whatever” moment that you glimpse over and pretty much excuse because it’s so insane. My wife just went through childbirth two months ago, and any mom or dad will tell you that ain’t what happens. The finale was respective of the show’s history — even the opening dream sequence, which took me about a minute of agony to realize, “Oh wait, this is probably another Tommy dream.” If you’ve watched the show since it’s started, you know you usually get one of those a year. Lou’s death seemed perfect to complete Tommy Gavin’s journey through the show. Since it started, he’s lost to death his cousin/compatriot, his son, his brother, his dad, his godson (pretty much), his chief … so it stood to reason either Lou or Janet was going to be biting it this season. Lou seemed like more of a logical choice in the grand scheme of things. And to end the show in the same place it started … sure, why not. It’s better than having some forced final hugging scene as the doors closed at 62 Truck. They actually poked a little fun at that TV tradition during Lou’s ceremony. Rescue Me always prided itself as being able to mix straight comedy with real-life drama. That’s the way I’d like to remember it. Thankfully, I’ll be able to do that now since these last three episodes were so good. SEASON GRADE: B. FINALE GRADE: B+. SERIES GRADE: B.

don't worry, gemma. you're not losing your son anytime soon.

don't worry, gemma. you're not losing your son anytime soon.

SONS OF ANARCHY(10 p.m. Tuesdays, FX): Addiction is a funny thing. We generally think of it as someone abusing alcohol, or purging themselves after a meal, or smoking four packs a day. But addiction doesn’t have to be a drug. You can be addicted to anything that changes how you feel. These days I think I’m addicted to the gym, or at least just working out. If I don’t get some kind of exercise in at least every couple of days, I go into an emotional funk and can’t seem to get out of it until I run a couple miles. So addiction doesn’t have to be about just drugs — you can get addicted to anything. And that’s the question Jax and Tara have to start asking themselves: Is Jax addicted to SAMCRO and the life it forces him to lead? We’ve heard his song and dance for three seasons about how he’s got this grand plan to make the club legitimate, to get himself out, to go cold turkey. Now he’s got a new plan. Take Tara, Abel, his new son and just run, run, run to somewhere he can never be found by Clay, by Gemma or the club. Sounds great! Let’s go! Whoa, pump your brakes, kid. Jax still has some work to do. Apparently that work includes leading the club in a direction that will put them at war with the Russian mob, leave them vulnerable to federal authorities and lastly, personally stabbing and killing the head of the Russian gun-running mob. And lest we forget the club, in its Jax-approved bloodbath, killed an undercover ATF agent. This plan to get out? I ain’t buying it. Not for a second. Jax is addicted to SAMCRO. He will never leave, and neither will Tara because she’s addicted to Jax. So in a show that contains almost no drug use, somewhat responsible alcohol abuse and none of society’s traditional addictions, we’re being treated to new forms of horrible, life-altering addictions. Jax’s son was stolen from him because of SAMCRO. If he didn’t get out then, he’s not bailing, not now, not ever. For anyone to think he will is pretty stupid. But it’s also an interesting ride to get the boys back in full-on mob mode, not effing around in Northern Ireland mode. A welcome change. SEASON PREMIERE GRADE: B+.

Here’s the preview of Sunday’s PopRox column:

We’re a forward-looking society. And when it comes to our television viewing, we want to make sure we’re not spending our time watching a new show that’s only going to be canceled by Christmas.

So here are five new TV shows that stand a pretty good chance at making it to the 2012-13 season so that you don’t have to waste your time with a dud:

THE RINGER

married to mr. fantastic is pretty bad. maybe she should have faced the mob.

married to mr. fantastic is pretty bad. maybe she should have faced the mob.

Timeslot: 9 p.m. Tuesdays on the CW (premieres Tuesday)

The premise: It sounds like a 70s Charlie’s Angels episode: Twin sisters pull a switcheroo when one dies. Since Alive Twin had some major life problems, she just settles into Dead Twin’s life to run away. Too bad Alive Twin didn’t realize Dead Twin had some problems of her own.

The skinny: Wait … is that … could it be … that’s Sarah Michelle Gellar! Apparently the Scooby-Doo gravy train ran out, so she makes her return to TV in the dual role of the twin sisters.

Chances it will be around next year: Pretty good. Like the network’s low-rated-but-good Nikita, it should have time to grow.

NEW GIRL

Timeslot: 9 p.m. Tuesdays on Fox (premieres Sept. 20)

The premise: Girls gets dumped. Girl needs roommates to pay the rent. Girl bunks with three guys who feel sorry for her. Girl becomes one of the guys while looking for love. And no, Fox doesn’t appreciate you singing “Come and knock on our door …” in your head when you read that description.

The skinny: It’s already going through changes since Damon Wayans Jr. stars in the pilot, but will be replaced. His funny other show, Happy Endings, was picked up for a second season by ABC so he can’t play for a different team.

Chances it will be around next year: Very good. Fox already likes it enough that it’s made the pilot available on iTunes and will make it available on its website this week. Combined with a pretty sweet timeslot — between Glee and Raising Hope — it’s already ahead of the game.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY

seriously, why do white people never leave haunted houses?

seriously, why do white people never leave haunted houses?

Timeslot: 10 p.m. Wednesdays on FX (premieres Oct. 5)

The premise: A couple working on their marriage moves into a haunted house. For reasons explained in Eddie Murphy’s classic Delirious rant (naughty language alert, but one of my favorite Murphy stand-up bits), they don’t make tracks yesterday when they find out said house is haunted.

The skinny: Co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk can be trusted. They created Glee and Falchuk was a producer on Murphy’s breakthrough Nip/Tuck.

Chances it will be around next year: 50/50. Horror on television is more of a niche thing for Syfy and midnight movies. Then again, we said the same thing about musicals when “Glee” premiered. How’s that going these days?

TERRA NOVA

Timeslot: 8 p.m. Mondays on Fox (two-hour premiere Sept. 26)

The premise: Future humans have to go back to the times of dinosaurs and right the wrongs of our society.

The skinny: One of the most hyped shows in recent memory, Terra Nova has been on the shelf for more than a year waiting for a release date. Fox kept pushing it back, hopefully to make improvements and not because the network didn’t like it. Oh, and in case you’re wondering? Terra Nova means “new land” in Latin. C’mon, I don’t get the chance to show off my Latin skills very often!

Chances it will be around next year: Excellent. This is one of the most expensive, ambitious shows that’s ever been made with a name like “Spielberg” behind it.

BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD

it's still gotta be funny, right?

it's still gotta be funny, right?

Timeslot: 10 p.m. Thursdays on MTV (premieres Oct. 27)

The premise: You know.

The skinny: New rule. When a show’s been gone for about 15 years and then suddenly makes a comeback out of nowhere, it is then considered new during its comeback run. Got it? Great.

Chances it will be around next year: Hard to tell. This could be a one-year tryout to bring MTV some much-needed credibility, or it could be Mike Judge’s lot in life to just do “Beavis and Butthead” episodes for the next 10 years.

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