Tag Archives: Rescue Me

USA’s Sirens should trust its true strengths

'Sirens' premieres tonight on USA Network.

Kevin Bigley, Kevin Daniels and Michael Mosley star in ‘Sirens,’ USA Network’s first half-hour comedy series, which premieres tonight.

Denis Leary is one of the co-creators of Sirens, USA Network’s first foray into scripted half-hour sitcoms that premieres tonight with two back-to-back episodes. Any fans of Leary’s long-running New York firefighters dramedy Rescue Me will probably like the new show, which is liberally peppered with the comic raunch Leary and co-creator Bob Fisher (Wedding Crashers) seem to favor. In fact, I’m pretty sure two of the three episodes USA sent out for preview break the record for the number of times the word “penis” or its synonyms are heard in a half-hour comedy.
That’s kind of a shame, because Sirens is smart and funny enough not to have to rely on that kind of cheap crutch. Set in Chicago, the show follows the exploits of three very diverse emergency medical technicians. The de factor alpha wolf of the group is Johnny (Michael Mosley), a handsome, affable guy, whose best friend, Hank (Kevin Daniels) is outspoken, acerbic and gay. They’re joined by the newest team member, Brian (Kevin Bigley), a sweet-natured and somewhat naïve fellow.
Balancing out this all-male perspective is Theresa (Jessica McNameer), a cop who also is Johnny’s ex, although both keep flirting with rekindling their romance. Complicating that possibility is Billy (Josh Segarra), Theresa’s new smokin’ hot but slightly dimwitted new partner, who joins the show in episode two.
As they respond to their daily calls, Johnny, Hank and Brian keep getting into trouble when they cross the line and allow themselves to get personally pulled into the lives of the victims they encounter. In one episode, Brian becomes obsessed with following up on a dying man’s very ambiguous last words, while in another the guys get a comically traumatic eyeful when they try to oblige a victim’s pleas to return to his apartment and clear his revealing internet browser history before telling his wife the man is in the hospital.
USA didn’t make available tonight’s pilot episode, which opens the series, but did include episode two, a funny half-hour that finds Johnny and Hank suffering a bitter karmic backlash when they try to blow off a charity CPR demonstration so they can attend a football game.
An even funnier upcoming episode finds frequent Leary collaborator Lenny Clarke and Emmy winner Jean Smart guest starring as Johnny’s perpetually bickering divorced parents.
If Leary, Fisher and their other writers can spend more energy focusing their comic attention above instead of below the belt, Sirens could develop into a solid hit.
Josh Segarra co-stars in 'Sirens.'

Former ‘Electric Company’ cast member Josh Segarra has a recurring role on ‘Sirens.’

Fox’s Rake is more than just House in a courtoom

Greg Kinnear stars in 'Rake' on Fox.

Greg Kinnear stars as brilliant but screwed-up attorney Keegan Deane in ‘Rake,’ a new character-driven dramedy premiering Thursday on Fox.

Rake, a very promising new character-driven Fox dramedy premiering Thursday night, is being widely touted as “House in a courtroom.” That terse summary applies only superficially, though.
Based on an Australian series, Rake stars Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine) as Keegan Deane, a brilliant defense attorney whose personal life, like that of Hugh Laurie’s Dr. Gregory House, is a complete train wreck. Keegan owes $67,000 to his bookie, who occasionally sends guys over to rough Keegan up just to save face. He is so far in arrears to the IRS that 70 percent of his income is being garnished. The closest thing he has to a girlfriend is Mikki Partridge (Bojana Novakovic, Drag Me to Hell), a T.S. Eliot-quoting beauty who is working as a professional escort to pay her way through college. And the therapist who is trying to help Keegan work his way through all this mess is his ex-wife, Maddy (Miranda Otto, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), with whom he has an adolescent son and to whom he owes six months’ alimony.
Partly out of financial desperation and partly out of his own lack of an inner filter, Keegan usually tackles cases most other attorneys would deem radioactive. The episode Fox originally sent out as the series pilot, which has been shuffled to later in the season, finds Keegan defending a brilliant economist and mayoral advisor (guest star Denis O’Hare, American Horror Story: Coven) who is accused of killing and eating a young accountant, for example.
That’s where Rake diverges from House, however. Series creator David Shore based his 2004-12 Fox medical drama on Sherlock Holmes (Holmes … Homes … House … get it?), and each episode contained a very strong procedural element as Greg House and his medical team tried to solve the life-threatening case of the week.
Rake, on the other hand, is far more interested in exploring the messy details of Keegan Deane’s life, with the courtroom proceedings providing only a lesser portion of (most) episodes. That’s fine with me, since Kinnear is one of my favorite actors, and one who I think is criminally underrated. He’s got leading-man good looks – I was stunned to realize that he’s now 50 – yet he always seems to vanish into his characters. If you want to see what I mean, and you have a high tolerance for dark material, check out his performance as porn-obsessed Hogan’s Heroes star Bob Crane in Paul Schrader’s intense fact-based 2002 drama Auto Focus. It’s grim yet electrifying.
I haven’t seen the episode Fox has elected to air this week in lieu of the original pilot, but tonally, Rake seems to be shooting for a fairly light touch, with frequent laugh-out-loud moments. I’m not ready yet to place any bets on its odds for success – for some reason, producers keep adapting Australian TV hits that immediately tank in this hemisphere – but with Kinnear in the lead and Peter Tolan (Rescue Me) among the executive producers, I’ll definitely be giving Rake a chance.