Before they created firefighter drama “Rescue Me” for FX, Denis Leary and Peter Tolan began their creative partnership on short-lived, police comedy “The Job” for ABC. Watching both series back-to-back in their DVD debuts highlights not only their striking thematic similarities but also the key differences between cable and network television (more sex! more swearing! but also, more network support).
Both series feature the same basic setup: Leary plays a chain-smoking, hard-drinking, deeply flawed regular guy working in public service in New York City. He’s surrounded by a likable, rough-and-tumble assortment of guys and a token woman (Diane Farr fits the bill well in both series).
Neither of these shows is particularly interested in the procedures of the job at hand. Instead the emphasis remains on the characters, their relationships with each other, the humorous situations they get into and the flaws that make them human.
That might have been too much for a major network like ABC to handle, especially since the second season of “The Job” aired post-9/11, but it makes “Rescue” a perfect fit for FX’s edgy slate.
Both shows play well on DVD, with their running gags and increasing emotional complexity accentuated by the marathon viewings the format allows. It’s especially welcome that the set presents the 13-episode second season in its intended sequence here, not by its original airdates.
Leary and Tolan dominate the bonus features for both sets. Their commentaries are not revelatory but are fun listens for series fans and occasionally provide interesting tidbits about real-life inspirations for key storylines. Oddly, profanity is bleeped out during the “Rescue” commentaries even though it is allowed in the actual episodes and vice versa for “The Job.”
“Job” chats suffer slightly due to the length of time between the series’ run and its DVD debut (there are a lot of bemused “I forgot about that!” recollections from both Leary and Tolan as they record their thoughts). Luckily the set also contains a more focused half-hour sit-down chat with them .
“Rescue” additionally boasts almost an hour’s worth of solid featurettes on the show’s origin, authenticity, casting and location shooting. Both sets include genuinely amusing gag reels as well as expected plugs: “The Job” hypes the “Rescue” DVD set while “Rescue” previews its upcoming second season.