Despite Tommy Gavin’s (Denis Leary) mantra that “there are no happy endings,” the upcoming series finale of “Rescue Me” promises to be more uplifting than depressing.
But that wasn’t always the case. Series co-creator/co-executive producer Peter Tolan said he and co-creator/star Leary initially contemplated going out on a less positive note. One concept had Tommy entering a fire, sitting down in a chair in a burning room and then allowing the screen to fade to black. “The idea that it was either a suicide or a heroic gesture, it was that his family would be taken care of in his death, since he couldn’t take care of them in his life,” Tolan said during the show’s TCA panel on Saturday.
Another more open-ended idea involved Tommy simply walking into the ocean at a beach house belonging to Kelly (Maura Tierney). “We talked about him stripping down, and just going out to sea – and he’s still going during the credits,” he said.
Catch Up On “Rescue Me”:
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“Ultimately we came to realize that the idea of the show is, Will a man who has survived this great tragedy actually survive it? Or not?” Tolan continued. “You don’t want to say no to that question — that he’s not going to survive. So we decided to go with something a little more hopeful.”
Leary noted that ending the show right before the 10th anniversary on Sept. 11 loaned itself to a certain natural summation point, saying that it felt like a “good time totem.”
Without giving away specific plot points, both Leary and Tolan said that the final two episodes will do exactly what the series has always done — infuse a perfect combination of humor with sadness. “One of the funniest things we ever did came out of the grief that happened in the final two episodes of this series,” Tolan said. “We thought, Jesus — in the middle of writing this dramatic stuff, this very funny thing came up. It goes from sad to funny on the turn of the dime — which is really what the show was all about.”
Taking a fond look back at some of the show’s accomplishments over seven seasons — which include an ongoing public dialog about 9/11 and a spot for Tommy’s firefighting gear at the Smithsonian — Leary confessed, “This has been the greatest showbiz experience — despite ‘Operation Dumbo Drop’ — of my career.”
– Prompted by Leary’s sympathy for the grueling schedule of TCA — “You guys have spent, what, three f–king weeks here talking to TV people and now you’re f–king bored,” he said — Tolan spiced up the atmosphere by dropping trou and revealing blue underwear to uproarious laughter from the crowd (photo below).
– Steven Pasquale, who plays Sean Garrity, expressed remorse for never “really being able to complete a full sentence.”
– Leary’s comment about a certain Ray Liotta and Danny Glover-starring film wasn’t random. Earlier in the panel, Tolan joked, “When you say that Denis will be remembered for this part, I think you’re forgetting ‘Operation Dumbo Drop.'”
The series finale of “Rescue Me” airs Sept. 7 on FX.