"Rescue Me" had excellent Emmy prospects when it debuted in 2004. The FX series about burned-out firefighters got red-hot reviews and earned Emmy nominations for writing and directing. Then in 2006 and 2007, Denis Leary caught fire in the performance races, scoring two consecutive bids for best actor. Last year, however, the only Emmy bids it reaped were for best cinematography and guest actor (Charles Durning). Is its Emmy flame extinguished?
Nope. "Rescue Me" has rallied creatively in its fifth season. "This series is officially on fire now," declares Entertainment Weekly. USA Today says "Rescue Me" is "better than ever." It's even added more laughs! "It is now so lighthearted it occasionally borders on glib," notes the L.A. Times.
Denis Leary wasn't nominated for best actor last year, but he made it into the top 10 after a popular vote was conducted of the TV academy's acting branch — just as he had in 2006 and 2007. That tells us that he's still seriously in the running. There's no top 10 run-off this year, but the Emmys are increasing the number of nominees per category to six or seven from the usual five.
FX is shrewd to roll out this new season of "Rescue Me" during the final weeks of the Emmy eligibility period, which ends May 31, so it's fresh in voters' minds. The network tried the same timing — unsuccessfully — with "The Shield" in years past, after its early Emmy glory (Michael Chiklis was the first star of a basic cable series to win a top acting trophy in the TV awards' history), but that series had lost its buzz. "Rescue Me" has regained it.
It's questionable if "Rescue Me" can land a best-series bid using this voting process dependent on a popular vote. The Nielsens of this basic-cable program may not be strong enough. Although it landed in the top 10 three years ago, it failed to make the cut in 2007 and 2008.
This year, it faces a category crowded with "Mad Men," "Lost," "Dexter," "House M.D." and FX's hottest show, "Damages" (all were nominated last year and have socko chances again — "Mad Men" won) plus the return of "24," rejuvenated "ER," and lots of borderline contenders including "The Tudors," "True Blood," "In Treatment," "Friday Night Lights," "Battlestar Galactica," "Big Love" and newbies like "Southland," "The Unusuals," "The Mentalist" and "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency."
However, one nomination looks likes a sure bet: Michael J. Fox for his guest role as a paraplegic dating Leary's ex-wife. It's an ornery, flashy role that's pure Emmy bait.