2004-07-30 / Community

‘Rescue Me’ Highlights Rockaway In Premier Episode

A Wave Review By Howard Schwach


Firefighter Tommy Gavin sits on the Rockaway beachfront. It is early morning and the sun is just beginning to light up the sky.

Despite the fact that he has promised to give up alcohol, Gavin is drinking from a pint bottle.

He soon finds that he is not alone on the beach. He is joined by his cousin and best friend, firefighter Jimmy Keefe, who died in the World Trade Center yet continues to appear in Gavin’s life, sometimes as a complete body, sometimes as only a head (they found only his head in the ruins). Also on the beach are those who Gavin failed to save at various fires in his long career with 62 Truck in Manhattan.

At the end of the scene, Gavin gets up to walk home. He is followed by all of the others on the beach. The point is well-made. Firefighters, like other rescue workers, carry with them their failures wherever they go.

Fortunately, Gavin is not real. He is a character made up by the man who plays him – actor Denis Leary. The show, which appears on cable’s FX Network (Channel 48 in Rockaway), was shot in Neponsit and the beachfront is not the only Rockaway location viewers will recognize.

Seems that Leary’s wife has moved out and is dating again. She “lives” in a beautiful house that happens to be on Beach 143 Street, a house that Leary and she once lived in together, along with their three children.

Now, she has the house and the kids and Leary rents a house right across the street. The story never tells you how a firefighter can afford not only one Neponsit home, but two (even if he rents the second), but that’s Hollywood.

A review of the show says that “Rescue Me” could do for firefighters what “NYPD Blue” did for cops: strip them of the myth while celebrating their humanity.”

FDNY brass may not enjoy the show as much as a room full of firefighters who recently watched the first episode.

According to published reports, the firefighters sat at the preview, nodding in assent and chortling at all the right points.

FDNY bigwigs, however, might not enjoy the drinking and the womanizing that go on all the time or the fact that one of the department supervisors takes time off from fighting a fire to check a Jet’s football game on which he has a heavy bet. In fact, the chief and the other firefighters at 62 Truck have a pool going on Leary’s divorce

Leary says that he does not want to exploit September 11, but that he can’t ignore it, especially in a show about firefighters.

“It’s a very interesting place to start off,” he says. “With guys who survived this terrible event, who were directly effected by it, but still have to jump on the truck.”

In fact, a number of the actors on the show are retired firefighters who were involved in September 11.

The New York Times, in an unusual editorial about a television show, said of “Rescue Me,” “The ghosts of 9/11 still people the upper Manhattan firehouse of Engine 62. The memory of that day presents a different maze to every firefighter in the building. And yet, despite constant reminders, the firefighters know precisely how far they’ve come. They remember the day and its aftermath with an insouciance – a mostly unquotable insouciance – that is both moving and strangely liberating.”

It is a show worth watching, and not simply to see Rockaway portrayed in a television show.

It airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. on FX.

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