Friday, April 25, 2014

Sirens: "There's No 'I' in Cream"

A lot has happened in the weeks since I first blogged about the high jinks of Eminent Ambulance Company. Johnny still isn't back together with Theresa (at least not officially), but he has reconnected with his estranged father (played by Rescue Me alum Lenny Clarke). Hank attended the wedding of an ex who cheated on him. Brian has tried unsuccessfully to start up a workplace romance with Voodoo; she claims to be uninterested in him because she's asexual, which is a welcome relief from the lesbian trope. Middle-aged veteran paramedic Cash has hooked up with Hank's mom.

Tonight's episode is one of the strongest I've seen in the series' short first season. It opens in the Eminent Ambulance garage with the whole crew addressing what appears to be a group of EMT students. At one point, Voodoo provides a Tommy Gavin-esque rundown of horrors they may encounter on the job. Their talk to the newbies is intercut with footage of a shift they all recently worked.

That day starts off with Johnny bringing in a dozen Bavarian cream doughnuts to share with everyone. He steps out of the kitchen for a couple of minutes and comes back to find them all gone. Johnny is a little pissed off about spending $40 on the doughnuts and not getting to enjoy them. None of his coworkers own up to eating more than one. I wondered if Johnny would turn investigator like Abby did when her cupcake went missing. 

As usual, Ambulance 14 is staffed by Johnny, Hank, and Brian; Ambulance 1's crew consists of Stats, Voodoo, and the normally-averse to fieldwork Cash. 14 responds to an apartment where an old lady thought she was experiencing a phantom smell, which can be a symptom of a stroke. It turns out that the poor old dear really is smelling toast that she burned and forgot about.

There's all the usual banter like Hank poking the bear by asking Johnny to name his top 3 doughnuts. Suddenly, a call comes over the radio that instantly changes the entire mood of the show: There's been a drive-by gang shooting with multiple bystander injuries. Ambulances 14 and 1 respond and find that there are 11 victims in total. Cash likens the chaos to his days as a medic during the Vietnam War. Hank, Johnny, and Brian whisk away a young boy named Mikey (maybe 8 or 9 years old) who's been shot in the stomach.

Johnny drives while Brian and Hank take care of the little boy in the back. In an effort to keep their young patient calm, Johnny calls over his shoulder to Mikey, asking him to name his top 3 superheroes. Johnny's personal favorite is Batman because "Superman flies around in his underwear." Mikey's top 3, starting from the bottom, are Iron Man (good choice, kid), Batman, and Jay-Z. Why is a rapper a superhero? In Mikey's words, "'Cause he's married to Beyonce." The guys chuckle at this.

At the hospital, the 14 crew runs into Stats, Voodoo, and Cash, who've just finished dropping off their patient. They happily announce that Mikey is expected to live; Ambulance 1 got the same prognosis for the mother they brought in. However, Cash has some bad news too; 4 of the shooting victims were D.O.A. This episode is the first of the series to mix the comedy with an honest-to-God tragedy and it does it well, even in the abbreviated format of a half-hour sitcom.

As a whole, the show itself is still nothing spectacular, but not a bad way to kill time on a Thursday night. Each episode brings a new set of bizarre emergencies; its one-liners are often based around a theme. For example, in last week's episode, they learned that Hank is terrified of spiders and discussed their respective fears. (Johnny is only "afraid of the big things: terrorism, cancer, Ben Affleck being a terrible Batman"). The characters are likable enough, though my personal favorite is still Brian the adorable dumbass rookie with a heart of gold. The show doesn't have much time left to get its legs under it; next week's episode is the season finale. Hoping they can bring in a good closer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014