Rescue Me has been treading water this season, mostly resting on its (always funny) firehouse banter to carry the viewer along on a journey through soap opera-like turns. The story lines have been disjointed and have mostly been attending to mopping up last season's messes. I've just about given up on it, but I'm holding out hope that they can turn a corner with the addition of a new chief played by Jerry Adler (Hesh Rabkin from The Sopranos.)
When Chief Riley committed suicide a couple episodes ago, it was a questionable move, and one that the actor playing him (Jack McGee) took umbrage to. In interviews McGee called Denis Leary a coward for not coming to him with the news, and claimed that the wrong character died (Leary's Gavin should have been the one). We all know that wouldn't work, but his point that the chief wouldn't go out like that had some merit. It seemed that Leary and co-creator Peter Tolan had just done all they could to the character and had to get rid of him (much like Charlie on Lost).
The way they initially handled the aftermath of Chief Riley's death last week was pure grace, though. A montage set to Randy Newman's "Dayton, Ohio 1903" beautifully captured the sadness of the moment intertwined with the funeral of Probie's mom. The song's theme of remembering better days added the right amount of levity to the comedy. Then Lou and Tommy defend the chief's decision, with Leary's character referencing his firefighting days while "the Bronx was burning," a winking plug for the EPSN miniseries The Bronx Is Burning which features Daniel Sunjata (Franco) as Reggie Jackson. Boy, did ESPN ruin that premiere by tacking it on the end of the Home Run Derby, or what?
Flash forward to last night's episode, though, and the Chief's mourning is officially over. The boys take a peek in and joke about his ashes, while Franco even (unknowingly) puts out his cigarette in the urn. That's got to be a not so subtle jab at McGee from Leary, and we can now forget about seeing the his character come back as a ghost (the dead always seem to come back). Having Adler as the new Chief Feinberg one assumes religion will get some more attention, as Leary's Catholicism is running thin. Already nicknamed "Jew Chief" (and "Well Hung Chief," but I'm not going there) the new head honcho is already interjecting Yiddish phrases into the house banter much to the confusion of the gang. Meanwhile, Lou and Franco have recruited a new Probie (a "brother" for the basketball team) who says "Assalamu 'Alaykum" as a goodbye. So, let's see... they're adding a "Jew Chief" and a Muslim Probie to the firehouse? Once again, not so subtle.
As far as music this week, The Black Hollies song "Tell Me What You Want" was used to help conclude "the emasculation of Tommy" storyline, as Nona (Jennifer Esposito) throws Tommy around the backseat of her truck while fooling around. While Tommy is able to finally "perform" again, he's still a ways from being able to give Nona what she wants, and her seemingly unnecessary character is now hopefully gone from the series.