Judge Gordon Sullivan wants a complete set of maps for life's crossroads.
Our reviews of Rescue Me: Season One (published June 27th, 2005), Rescue Me: The Complete Second Season (published June 7th, 2006), Rescue Me: The Complete Third Season (published June 5th, 2007), Rescue Me: The Complete Fourth Season (published June 18th, 2008), Rescue Me: Season Five, Volume One (published September 1st, 2009), and Rescue Me: The Sixth Season And The Final Season (published September 29th, 2011) are also available.
Sometimes you have to play with fire.
Here we have Rescue Me: Season Five, Volume Two, the back half of the first complete twenty-two-episode run. In my review of Volume One, I wasn't terribly impressed with the way the season was going. I still have my reservations after finishing all twenty-two episodes, but things definitely get better towards the end of the season, culminating in one of the show's typical cliffhanger endings.
Facts of the Case
Things are getting crazy around the firehouse. Most of the crew are getting new ladies, Sean is still suffering from health problems, and drinking is becoming a serious problem for a number of the characters.
Rescue Me: Season Five, Volume Two presents episodes twelve through twenty-two on three discs:
Far be it from me to knock the efficacy of Alcoholics Anonymous, which seems to have worked for many, many people. For me personally, the idea of never being able to take a drink again would not work out. I'm rebellious enough that I'd probably take a drink out of spite, or the stress of not being able to ever drink again would drive me to alcohol. Since I'm nowhere near as rebellious or high-strung as Tommy Gavin, I'm amazed that AA ever kept him from drinking at all. Although it seemed to do a pretty good job, as Season Five wears on, Tommy slips farther and farther off the wagon, with some interesting consequences.
I'm glad they gave Tommy back his drinking because before he was becoming increasingly toothless as a character. He was constantly reacting to the stuff around him, like Black Shawn's relationship to Colleen, but not really dealing with it. I don't endorse drinking as a way to deal with life's problems, but it gives the writers something to do with his character.
The writers need something to do with Tommy's character because the cast of Rescue Me keeps growing and shows no signs of slowing down. Previous seasons didn't shy away from giving us the goods on all the characters, but with the expanded episode list for Season Five, Tommy is less and less in the spotlight, even if he is still at the center of the Rescue Me universe. There are, in fact, so many different threads going on in this season I felt like I needed a crib sheet to keep everything straight. There's Tommy's drinking, his relationship with the (now three) women in his life, not to mention his family, Sean's illness/surgery, Black Shawn's relationship with Colleen, Franco's boxing career, Lou's new lady-friend, and the various fires and other problems of each episode. It's a lot to follow, but the suspect moments of the first half of the season pay off pretty well in these episodes.
As with the first half, the acting is uniformly excellent from all involved. Although sometimes the storylines get ridiculous and strange, I'm continually drawn in by the actors who manage to make everything from seeing ghosts to running into a burning building seem totally realistic and emotionally engaging. Even if the writing takes a total nosedive after this season, the show will continue to be watchable for quite awhile based on acting alone.
As with Volume One, this set gives the show a strong presentation. The video is up to the first half's high standards, with strong colors and deep blacks. The audio is equally impressive, with nice rumblings during fires and dialogue that's easy to hear. Extras are standard fare for the show. Some deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a featurette on the making of the season.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I'm still not sure I'm happy with where the show is going. The expanded format of a complete season means more shows, obviously, but it also means the writers have to work harder to fill all those extra minutes while maintaining something like a seasonal arc. This season shows that they're far from running out of ideas, but I wonder if they can maintain this level of intensity for very long. The show keeps ratcheting up the tension, showing Tommy getting more and more out of control, and eventually that's going to catch up to both him, and the writers.
I'm also still not sold on the idea of splitting up the season's releases. When there were only twelve episodes in a season, each set played out like single extended episode with all the ups and downs building to a solid climax. Separating the season into two releases artificially divides the season. It's better now that fans can sit down and watch both volumes at once, but I hope the future seasons are kept whole.
As with previous season, Tommy Gavin is at a crossroads at the end of Season Five, Volume Two. His drinking is out of control, his family is in shambles, and his co-workers are all wrapped up in their own complicated lives. Although this isn't my favorite season of the show, fans are sure to appreciate the strong performances and excellent writing that still characterize every episode of Rescue Me. This release of the second volume of Season Five maintains the show's commitment to excellence on DVD and fans are going to want to pick it up.
Rescue Me: Season Five, Volume Two is on fire, and it remains to be seen if that means the show's going to burn up or only get hotter. Not guilty.
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