Alright, here we go: 'Rescue Me' is a great show, and I think the second season is probably even a little better than the first. It's a matter of taste, it always is, of course, but particularly here as the show has moved in a somewhat different, more dramatic direction. It's still got plenty of humor, of course, but the season has still got a more violent, dramatic tone and it ends in a black pit of despair for pretty much every character. (Well, alright, that's pretty true of the first season also, but it's even worse this time around.)
Anyway, the appeal of this show is simply that it's got a large cast of very interesting characters, most of whom are fairly likable in spite of their various flaws. The show centers around Denis Leary's Tommy, of course, who is extremely reminiscent of Leary's standup persona, being the loud, angry, foul-mouthed jerk. Tommy Gavin certainly isn't a nice guy, and most people will try and tell you that he's a complex and conflicted and you aren't really particularly supposed to like him, but pshh, whatever. *I* like him. He's my hero, in fact. The fact of the matter is, 90% of the time, Tommy is in the right. Of course, in that other 10% he tends to severely over step the bounds of civilized society, but ehh, who cares. Beyond him the most important character, at least in my mind, is Ken Shea, lieutenant in the firehouse. He's probably the most conventionally likable character here, smarter and funnier than anyone else in the show, while simultaneously seeming like more of just a regular guy. He certainly ain't perfect either, but he's still really the heart of the show, I think.
There are just too many characters to consider them all individually: as we've got Franco, a former total womanizer who found out he has a daughter last season and is trying to turn himself around to some degree; Mike and Sean, two of the younger firefighters who are just particularly stupid and oblivious, and who, frankly, seem to be pretty much the same character; Laura, the one woman in the firehouse, who is, of course, quite an outsider because of this; Chief Reilly, another sorta normal guy character apart from his severe homophobia, which comes into play frequently since he has a gay son. Then you've got Tommy's family, his kids his father his uncle and his inscrutable semi-ex-wife Janet, and his current girlfriend, the crazy Sheila and on and on. Suffice to say, this show's got all sorts of stuff going on all the time, far too much to summarize in any meaningful way. Occasionally individual plot threads won't work as well, and sometimes things peter out with no good explanation or conclusion (such as when Mike plans on killing his ex-girlfriend in a jealous rage, and then just doesn't.) To be honest, the show is basically a prime-time soap opera, albeit far more professional and less cheesy than the real thing, but it's the same basic essence. If you haven't seen this you may, reasonably, think it's a show about firefighting, but it really isn't. Most of the characters just kinda happen to be firefighters, the actual, uhh, fighting of fires is a relatively small part of the show.
Though you shouldn't need to be told this, those who are easily offended ought to avoid this show. Yes, they use lots of swears and slurs and there are a number of butts to be seen. Frankly, I dunno why this should be surprising to anyone in modern society, but apparently it is, so consider yourself warned. As a whole, this season actually seems less concerned with being over the top, which is nice. When something is trying too hard to be outrageous it can come off forced and tiresome, which does happen at a few moments in 'Rescue Me', but not too often, and not as much as in season 1.
Geez, I've gone on and on and I haven't said anything yet, so I guess it's back to the basics to close out this review. So, in summary: 1- This show is funny 2- This show is dramatic 3- This show manages to create a certain amount of empathy for just about every character in it, even when they come into conflict. (Except for Janet, who is evil and who I hate.) 4- I like this show. Watch it. Also, the theme song is great.