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.