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As far as series go, Rescue Me may very well be one of my favorites of all time. Sure the show is relentless with drudging up commentary on 9/11 (and, in fact, that is what the first portion of this season is about), but somehow the series manages to not only make eight year old as powerful as they were back then but it also mixes in the same humor and dramatic style that the show has managed to perfectly craft over the years it’s been on the air. With the double long season just about to wrap up on FX, Sony Home Entertainment marks the occasion with the first volume of the fifth season, which houses the first eleven episodes of the season.

Synopsis
The men of 62 Truck are back for a fifth season in Denis Leary and Peter Tolan’s series. Tommy Gavin is grappling with the death of his father as the season opens, along with the new man in Janet’s life (guest star Michael J. Fox). The crew devises a business plan to open a bar, which turns into a lucrative venture, but also a temptation to Tommy, who continues to struggle with sobriety. Sean faces a health issue with no easy solution, while Needles struggles to garner respect and maintain control of the firehouse. Meanwhile, Sheila attempts to purge herself of Tommy and allows Damian to pursue a future as a firefighter. Conspiracy theories about 9/11 ruffle more than a few feathers, brought on by the arrival of an intriguing foreigner. Under the shadow of a haunting past, the crew continues to look to the future and realize that salvation often lies where you least expect it.


While watching the series on FX I never even realized how the season split in two so neatly. I figured this first volume might end a little awkwardly but the truth of the matter is…it is halved pretty nicely. Although why they couldn’t just release it in one big set anyway, I don’t really know; the prices are about the same for this season as it was for the four-disc sets, but…whatever. Not a huge deal, the series is so fantastic I’d buy it even if it were in single disc bursts. Oh and before you read much further I am incredibly biased when it comes to this show—I’ve been a huge fan since the third season and I pretty much shove it into everyone’s face that I can.

The show may not excel too much when it comes to the dramatic sides of things (at times it gets to be a bit repetitious, like with this seasons Janet/Sheila plot), but when it comes to delivering the comedy this show is really quite unmatched. I laugh each week the hardest at this show—whether it’s just the antics of the men in the firehouse or something that Sean, Mike or Lou says…this show is really just a fantastic way to spend an hour in front of the TV each week. I almost won’t know what to do without it—twenty-two straight weeks of new episodes is a highly enjoyable way to spend the summer and I can only hope they do the same thing again next year (although it’s doubtful; this was a double season due to the writer’s strike).

The first eleven episodes on this disc go by fast and despite having just watched them weeks prior, I didn’t have an issue rewatching them. The introduction of Damien into the firehouse cast, the continued exploration of Tommy Gavin’s limits and just about every other little plot from this season has been nothing short of fantastic. On top of that we had some positively hilarious musical sequences with Sean’s character…to the point I was nearly in tears in some instances.

This really has been one of the most fantastic seasons of this show to date. The writing, acting and just…everything about this season has been top notch. Especially enjoyable is the resolution to Lou’s situation (which I won’t talk about because it’s not included on this volume), although I did notice that the character of Genevieve seems to disappear quite suddenly after Lou’s one night stand with her. Ah well, minor quibbles—this season moves at such a rapid pace you rarely notice these things when you go from week to week.

What I have noticed lately is how the show composes itself. Unlike a lot of shows which constantly flip back and forth between sequences or are simply made up of sequences in of themselves that are shorter, Rescue Me can carry a scene like no one else. I first noticed this about halfway into the season, although I guess it’s always been like this, but this season it seems to be even more prevalent. The show just manages to sit on one sequence for ten to fifteen minutes at a time and do the most wonderful things with it—both dramatic and comedic. Really quite fantastic.

But I haven’t even mentioned the best thing about the first half of this season – Michael J. Fox. Talk about a fantastic role—and hell, it netted him a Emmy nomination (unfortunately the only nomination this show received this season, but oh well) as well. It really was a fantastic role and even though we’re kind of led down a road to hate the guy at the end of his stint on the show, it’s still just a hilarious and wholly unexpected temporary addition to the cast. The interaction between him and Leary is worth the price of admission alone.

So is that enough praise for this show? Probably not. Definitely not. But I need to save some for the second volume for when it hits so I’ll cut this one off here. Everything about this fifth season has been nothing short of a complete treat and while there are some “downer” episodes here and there (particularly early on in the season), once Tommy gets back on the booze the rest of the season is off like a rocket. Must See.

The DVD
Unfortunately Sony hasn’t released this show on Blu-ray since its third season. I would assume it did poorly in sales there since we haven’t seen it on the format since, which is a shame because as great as this show looks on DVD (and in HD, I would imagine, for those who have FX HD), I’m sure it looks absolutely brilliant on Blu-ray as well. In any case the packaging for this set heavily mimics every season that preceded it, right down to the rather garish gold text/border on a red background. I’m not sure who approved this as it is really, really hard to read the details on the back of the box. Inside the standard slipcase are the two thin-paks, with double sided jackets that list disc contents and episode credits. Plenty of art from the series adorns the discs and box art and menus are identical to the previous seasons. Video is a strong 480p transfer and looks pretty good for what it is. A DD5.1 track drives the series audio, which has ample surround work during some of the fire sequences, which are plentiful in this first half.

Extras include:

Disc 1
Deleted Scenes (3:14)

Disc 2
Deleted Scenes (3:47)

Disc 3
Walking Thru the Fire: Surviving Season 5 (29:52)
Danny Does Danger (7:34)
Gag Reel (5:04)
Deleted Scenes (4:18)

Sadly there are no commentaries, but the two featurettes on the third disc kind of make up for it simply because there expand on the season itself quite well. Sadly there’s no featurette focusing on Michael J. Fox’s work, although I expect maybe we’ll see something akin to that on Volume 2 since he got nominated for an Emmy (likely after this set went into production too).

Overall a solid set and one that comes Highly Recommended. While it’s a bit short on the episode count, it’s still a solid set. Although I have to wonder where the Minisode’s that aired in 2008 are—surely those aren’t going to be left off the sets entirely? In any case, definitely check this set out or pick it up to add to your collection. I know it’ll be sitting proudly next to the other seasons for as long as I’m alive.

Rescue Me – Season Five, Volume 1 arrives on DVD on September 1st.

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