Entertainment Magazine

Review #2980: Rescue Me 7.7: “Jeter”

Posted on the 27 August 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Edmund B.

Over the years, if the writing on a show is good, I find myself swept along, happily awaiting the next twist or turn, eager to discover where we’re going. A major warning sign has been when an episode ends and I start rewriting it in my head. Unfortunately, ‘Rescue Me’ has reached the point where I’m trying to rewrite as I watch.

Review #2980: Rescue Me 7.7: “Jeter”

Tommy continues to refuse to fully embrace recovery, having not attended a meeting in over three months. That fact, plus the incident at Sheila’s, has caused Teddy to be drafted to walk Colleen down the aisle. Obviously, the family hopes Tommy might be shocked out of old habits and attitudes. His continued resistance and recalcitrance does not indicate a man who has recently indulged in some self-reflection and cathartic self-expression. But more on that later.

The handling of Franco’s stint as lieutenant beggars description, so I’ll rely on an old favorite. He becomes a swaggering, overbearing tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood. Who is then brought down by a maneuver so bone-headed, it defies belief. The only thing worse would have been the car tumbling off the pier, in order to provoke a heroic rescue of victim and Franco by Tommy. But there I go, rewriting. Franco’s flirtation with power ends as quickly as it began, played for simplistic effect, rather than an opportunity to investigate two different ways to do their job.

The new trope of Tommy’s letters, introduced in the previous episode, continues, rife with inconsistencies and missed opportunities. I’m sure the intention was for Tommy’s words to be moving and revelatory. For me, they fell flat. An old adage for writers is ‘Don’t tell it in words, show it in actions’. The sentiments expressed in these letters have already been demonstrated numerous times over the years. In fact, they are more eloquently expressed by Lou’s fiery demonstration, however much it smacked of a parlor trick.

I’ve mentioned previously the show’s reliance on scenes where Tommy reacts while his co-star acts. Here, the situation is flipped, with the co-star reacting to Tommy’s voice-over. Unfortunately, Dennis Leary’s readings don’t ring true. Yes, Tommy’s outer voice is usually hesitant and inarticulate. These are supposed to be his deeply-felt inner thoughts, which gives you latitude for a richer, more impassioned reading. This was ably demonstrated by Jimmy’s voice-over of his letter in the previous episode. John Scurti and Callie Thorne are very capable of acting without words. Here, however, the words they’re reacting to belie their reactions.

When Lou started reading his second letter, the stilted reading led me to expect that Tommy again knew Lou would read it immediately. This raised a very intriguing possibility. If Tommy didn’t trust Lou not to read his own letters, why should we believe any of the other letters were real? Then, Tommy’s shock and surprise at the end could have been because, in addition to his parlor tricks, Lou had written all of the letters, not just Janet’s.

Call me crazy, if you must, but this is a rewrite more in keeping with the show’s tone. A practical joke of Tommy’s getting way over-trumped by Lou, and in a way that forces Tommy to examine his feelings, as he sees everyone react to the things he never intended to tell them. But that’s not the show we’re watching. Instead, we are again, as in previous seasons, muddling along towards a finale that I now fear will be more frustrating than inspiring.

Writing: 1/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 1/2
Style: 2/4

Total: 6/10

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