By Adam Sandler
Special to TelevisionWeek
“Rescue Me,” which centers on the lives of firefighters of FDNY Manhattan 62 Truck, joins “Nip/Tuck” and “The Shield” to create a hit trifecta for FX.
The show’s crisp writing and gallows humor breathe life into Denis Leary’s tortured, politically incorrect firefighter Tommy Gavin and clearly have touched an audience nerve. Its debut in July was the most-watched show in FX’s history with 4.1 million viewers. It has attracted a loyal following in both its primary Wednesday night run and its Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday re-airings.
The potent scheduling reaches a cumulative average of 9.5 million viewers each week, according to Nielsen-good enough for the network to order an additional 13 episodes to air next year.
“The show’s success is a combination of being at the right place at the right time in terms of a network and having a quality, groundbreaking show,” said Jim Serpico, an executive producer of “Rescue Me” and partner with writer/producer/star Mr. Leary in Apostle Pictures.
“FX really pays attention to its shows,” Mr. Serpico said. “They spend a lot of time and money building a brand, and we’ve benefited from that. We try to do shows that we like and that we’d watch, and we’d like for them to be successful, but that’s all relative. You always want to first do good work.”
“Rescue Me” has averaged 2.8 million viewers during the summer in its Wednesday time slot and has become the highest-rated new series on basic cable in 2004 among adults 18 to 49, while drawing impressive numbers among men 18 to 49, men 18 to 34 and women 25 to 54.
The show has also delivered the highest ratings of any Wednesday night program on basic cable in these demos, according to FX. “Rescue Me” has increased FX’s Wednesday 10 p.m. time period by 196 percent in total viewers and 272 percent among adults 18 to 49, compared with the same period in 2003.
“Everyone at FX is extremely proud of `Rescue Me,”‘ said John Landgraf, FX president of entertainment. “The show’s quality has been borne out by extraordinary critical praise and excellent ratings. We look forward to having it for many years.”