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‘Rescue Me’ is going out strong

“Rescue Me” firefighter Tommy (pictured) is like modern-day Hawkeye (Alan AldMASH) his dedicatidefiance authority.

“Rescue Me” firefighter Tommy (pictured) is like a modern-day Hawkeye (Alan Alda in MASH) in his dedication and defiance of authority.

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‘Rescue me”
★★★½

9 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays on FX

Updated: July 13, 2011 2:16AM



As FX’s hit series “Rescue Me” begins its seventh and final season tonight, the melding of comedy and drama is as deft as ever. Not since “MASH” has a show been so adept (albeit in an edgier and more graphic way) at eliciting belly laughs and tears, shocked amusement and unsettling horror.

Perhaps not coincidentally, its lead protagonists — the 4077’s crack(ed) chief surgeon Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) and Ladder 62/Engine 99 loose-cannon firefighter Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) — are strikingly similar. Both men are boozing, womanizing smart-asses who smugly defy authority at every turn.

When it comes to their patients, however (victims, in Gavin’s case), there’s nothing they won’t do to prevent death and suffering, including putting their own lives at considerable risk. And it’s in the heat of battle — whether the operating room or a five-alarm blaze — where each man truly shines.

Here’s one marked difference: When “MASH” ended in 1983, we never really got the sense that Pierce was OK — that he’d eventually attain lasting inner peace and get on with his life. Sure, sessions with Sidney the psychiatrist helped, but did they stick?

As “Rescue Me” comes to a close, the deeply damaged Gavin finally appears to be conquering his myriad demons, the daddy of them all being his guilt at having survived the Sept. 11 attacks that killed 343 firefighting brethren. With a combination of willpower and more than a little help from some friends —a fine ensemble that includes the inexplicably Emmy-less Callie Thorne (Sheila Keefe) and the always solid John Scurti (Lt. Kenny “Lou” Shea) — Gavin’s increasingly determined not to be casualty No. 344. He’s a Gavin, though, so nothing’s carved in stone. So far. His epitaph has yet to be written.



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