But when I saw FX running previews for their upcoming series Rescue Me on FX in 2004, it ran as if it was a hardcore cable drama but something intrigued me. That something was the show's star, Denis Leary. Denis Leary is my all time favorite comedian and I remember catching a couple episodes of The Job (also another great show) and knowing that Denis could pull off a great show, I decided to give Rescue Me a try and to this day, I'm happy I did.
I remember watching the pilot episode "Guts" and thinking that I've never seen anything like this before. No TV show has ever shocked me before, but when I saw Leary's character pull a live severed head of a fallen comrade from a pile of wreckage at Ground Zero and the Chief throw a dead puppy in the trash so it's owner wouldn't see it, I was like WOW! I couldn't take my eyes off it. I was actually heavily into a television drama.
I watched the whole first season just get better and better. I was into the intense dying relationship between Tommy and Janet, Chief Reilly dealing with his homophobia by beating up a gay firefighter, Tommy's conflict of entering a relationship with his dead cousin's widow, Franco's growing relationship with his estranged daughter, Mike the Probie's stalker, Lou trying to deal with his feelings about 9/11 through poetry and pretty much anything with Sean Garrity, my favorite character.
I never thought anything could top The Simpsons as my all time favorite show, but Denis Leary and Peter Tolan managed to climb their way to the top. This is a show that is so chock full of moments that you'll never forget from a drunk Janet bedding Tommy to her leaving him at the end of the first season. You'll be laughing as the guys enter a contest to see who has the biggest "equipment" and crying when Tommy's son is tragically killed by a drunk driver. It is an emotionally powerful show that balances out so perfectly with gut busting humor that it makes it more than just your average TV drama.
I couldn't in good conscience give this show anything less than a 10/10. Bravo, Mr. Leary.