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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Rescue Me: The Complete Fourth Season (2007)

“When are you going to get it through your thick Irish skull that punching someone in the face is not going to solve anything?!”
- Janet Gavin (Andrea Roth)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: June 03, 2008

Stars: Denis Leary
Other Stars: Daniel Sunjata, Andrea Roth, Natalie Distler, Callie Thorne, Mike Lombardi, Jerry Adler, John Scurti, Jennifer Esposito, Steven Pasquale, Larenz Tate, Susan Sarandon, Amy Sedaris, Charles Durning
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult language, violence, sexual situations)
Run Time: 09h:20m:00s
Release Date: June 03, 2008
UPC: 043396212633
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ A+B+B+ A

DVD Review

The great actor/comedian Denis Leary struggled once he decided to leave the stand-up comedy stage and concentrate on honing his acting skills. He went from mediocre film to mediocre film, then seemingly had a big break in the critically acclaimed TV series, The Job. Unfortunately, no one watched that show and it disappeared way before it should have. This was a bittersweet setback for Leary, though, as without it, we might never have gotten to enjoy his current series, Rescue Me. Arguably the best drama on television, Sony gives us the latest batch of episodes in their four-disc Rescue Me: The Complete Fourth Season set.

We open this group of episodes with Tommy Gavin (Leary) giving a deposition to an insurance company involving the fire from last season’s cliff-hanger finale. This season premiere, Babyface, focuses on Tommy’s struggle to remember the events of the fire, but he’s also dealing with a constantly-crying newborn son, and the ever-shady dealings of Sheila (Callie Thorne). Then, it’s on to Tuesday, where Tommy finally learns what really happened during the fire, and has to work with Janet (Andrea Roth) in order to come to grips with the maturing of their daughter, Colleen (Natalie Distler).

In Commitment, Tommy seeks his crew’s advice in how to make amends with Colleen, while Mike (Mike Lombardi) is pushing the boundaries of friendship as he harasses Gavin about spending time with him. This episode ends with one of the most shocking events in Rescue Me history. The aftermath of this shocking ending comes to the forefront in Pussified, where the crew has to cope with what’s happened. Meanwhile, Lou (John Scurti) is trying everything to land a star recruit for the house’s basketball team, and Tommy is having problems with his manhood during intimate encounters with Nona (Jennifer Esposito).

It’s on to Disc 2 and Black, where a new chief (Jerry Adler) is on board, and the crew doesn’t know what to make of him. In Balance, Sean (Steven Pasquale) stumbles across a dark secret of Mike’s, while the new, basketball-star probie, nicknamed Black Shawn (Larenz Tate), shows he won’t back down to anyone. We also find out some startling news about the real paternity of Tommy and Janet’s newborn. This disc closes with Seven, which features one of the most harrowing fire sequences we’ve seen thus far. After this devastating fire, Tommy is left to deal with the news about the baby and Franco (Daniel Sunjata) hears a proposal from Alicia (Susan Sarandon).

The third disc starts with Solo, where not only does Tommy give Janet’s baby to Sheila, but he also faces a collection of ghosts from his past. In Animal, we see one of the funniest scenes of the season when most of the Gavin family stage a dual intervention. As a result of the intervention, the Gavin’s have their first in-house AA meeting in High, but, of course, things get pretty crazy during it. Meanwhile, Tommy starts using Colleen to keep tabs on Janet.

The fourth and final disc begins with Cycle, where Tommy agrees to go out with the Chief’s daughter, Beth (Amy Sedaris), and then learns some things about his childhood from his father (Charles Durning). Keefe finds Tommy masquerading as another firefighter and fighting with the Chief after he goes a bit too far with Beth. In the season finale, Yaz, Tommy has to fix a few relationships, including his own with Colleen, while everyone is shocked by the sighting of Jimmy’s ghost.

Once again, any season of Rescue Me is a good one, and the fourth one is no exception. This series continues to be one of the few that is consistently sharp, original, witty, and dramatic, while never skipping a beat. We’re left wanting more after every single episode, thanks to one of the best casts on television and writing that is simply unsurpassed. So, while it’s great having another batch of episodes from this great show, it’s a shame that the recent writer’s strike is making us wait until 2009 for the airing of new episodes.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Each of the episodes is presented in anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen, and they look incredible. Despite the lack of a network TV budget, the images are as crisp and detailed as those appearing in shows on the big boy networks. The colors are well-rendered also, and there is some grain at times, but print flaws are generally kept at bay.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, and these tracks are surprisingly immersive during the action-oriented sequences. The music sounds quite good too, while the sharply-written dialogue is always crystal clear, and blends in perfectly with the rest of the mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 78 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Shield, Damages: The Complete First Season, The Tattooist, Cleaner, The Shepherd: Border Patrol, The Counterfeiters
1 TV Spots/Teasers
22 Deleted Scenes
2 Documentaries
5 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Gag Reel
  2. Minisodes
Extras Review: The extras are spread out among the four discs, with Disc 1 featuring two of the set’s 22 deleted scenes, along with Welcome To the Set. This is a nearly-14-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that is ten times better than most similar pieces in that it relies heavily on candid cast interaction. Walking Thru Fire: The Stories of Rescue Me Season 4 runs for just under 30 minutes and is more of a traditional documentary in that we hear from much of the crew. Still, this is one of the most informative, engaging making-of pieces I’ve ever seen.

Disc 2 has eight more deleted scenes, plus This is Not a Drill: Breaking Down “Seven”. Focusing on episode seven, this great 11-minute segment shows us everything that went into the filming of the exciting fire rescue sequence in that show. Tools of the Trade is five minutes and change of Niels Jorgensen taking us on a tour through the fire-fighting tools that are used in the show.

Disc 3 gives us nine more deleted scenes and Captains, an eight-minute look at a pair of the show’s directors, Jace Alexander and John Fortenberry. There’s also Burning Embers: Gavin’s Girls, a 10-minute look at the numerous women in Tommy Gavin’s life, via interviews with the actors that play them. This disc also gives us The Shield – The Final Act, which is a 30-second promo spot for the final season of FX’s show The Shield.

The fourth and final DVD has the final three deleted scenes along with a hilarious, almost-four-minute gag reel. Firehouse: Real Stories from America’s Bravest is essentially 35 minutes of true stories from real firefighters. This is some harrowing stuff as there’s a perfect mixture of heartbreaking and heroic tales from these brave individuals. This disc also has two “Minisodes,” which are five-minute clips from the TV shows Married…With Children and Starsky & Hutch, and a collection of previews for other DVD releases.

Extras Grade: A


Final Comments

Fans of Denis Leary who haven’t seen what he’s doing these days simply owe it to themselves to pick up Rescue Me: The Complete Fourth Season on DVD. All 13 episodes are presented in their original audio and video, and these presentations are excellent. Plus, there’s a great extras collection that is much better than most TV on DVD efforts these days.


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