Not having seen the first season, I confess as to floundering somewhat in my encounter with the second. In the interest of keeping things simple and comprehensible, I thus present the synopsis provided by the box itself. The second season “finds Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) away from his former crew . . . and working in a Staten Island firehouse. He must come to terms with the havoc his drinking has caused and realizes it’s time to get his problems under control. His comrades back at 62 Truck a…en’t faring much better. Chief Reilly struggles with the recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis of his wife and her deteriorating condition. Franco juggles the responsibilities of raising his daughter while trying to return to work. Lt. Shea discovers just how lonely the single life can be and Laura complicates house relations by getting involved with a colleague.”
All of which sounds very grim, and there are far more problems than the above suggests. But the stories are handled with a matter-of-factness that avoids facile melodrama, and there is a sharp wit that doesn’t hurt at all, either.
So many TV transfers have indifferent audio mixes, whether they are presented in 5.1 or not. Most seem to take the lazy way out and send some music but little else to the rear speakers. This set makes full use of the 5.1, with a very convincingly created sense of environment, with fire, collapsing masonry, alarms and the like roaring on all sides. Outside the big set pieces, the dialogue is perfectly clear and free of distortion.
The picture is fine, but not as impressive as the audio. The colours are good, with nice contrasts. The grain level isn’t bad, but it is there. Edge enhancement is not a problem. The most noticeable flaw is a certain softness in some shots. Again, this is hardly a deal-breaker, but the image could be a bit sharper, especially given how good the sound quality is.
You have essentially one longer featurette broken up over several discs. The making-of stuff, then, consists of “The Second Season” (an overview) and “Shooting in New York” on Disc 2, “The Kitchen” (a look at the central set of the firehouse) and “Writing for the Cast” on Disc 3, and “Diane Farr Talks to the Real NYFD” (who point out the show’s errors) and “Life on the Set of Rescue Me” (a gag entry, exposing such things as Leary’s unreasonable toilet demands) on Disc 4. Disc 1 has a Season 3 teaser and previews, Disc 2 has the gag reel, and all the discs have a clutch of deleted scenes. The menu’s main screen is animated and scored.
Impressive stuff. But the experience is definitely much more comprehensible if one has also seen the first season.
Special Features List
- 6 Making-of Featurettes
- Deleted Scenes
- Gag Reel
- Season 3 Teaser