The USA Network has had its fair share of hit original shows in the past. It has brought viewers on the edge of their couches with dramas like Burn Notice and Suits. It has touched on science fiction with The Dead Zone and The 4400. The network’s greatest success, however, has been with comedies like Monk and Psych. With the recent premiere of their latest original comedy, Sirens, the USA Network is hoping to bring their ratings back to life after cutting many other shows out of their lineup.
Sirensis a series that takes a day-in-the-life look at the life of a Chicago emergency medical technician (EMT) unit. Michael Mosley and Kevin Daniels star as veteran EMTs, Johnny Ferrell and Hank St. Claire. They, along with rookie Brian Czyk (Kevin Bigley), often find themselves in difficult situations during the course of their jobs, leading to humorous and often crude results. Whether it is deleting the browser history of a patient to save his pride (and scar their minds) or tracking down an ambulance nabbed in a joyride with the help of Mosley’s ex-girlfriend police officer (Jessica McNamee), the antics of the comedy trio are sure to bring a half-hour of enjoyment to its viewers.
Producers Bob Fisher and Denis Leary adapted the series for the USA Network from a hit British series of the same name, focusing on the London Ambulance Service. Though a comedian himself, the show takes a sharp turn in tone from Leary’s most recent dramatic television hit, Rescue Me. Sirens does, however, continue a theme of medical and emergency personnel, a subject very close to Leary’s heart. Leary set up the Leary Firefighters Foundation in 2000, a year after six firefighters died fighting the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire. His cousin, Jerry Lucey, and his childhood friend, Lt. Tommy Spencer, were among the firefighters killed in action.
Early reviews of Sirens show promise for the young series. Though only three episodes long, review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes has the series rated at 73%, a “Certified Fresh” rating. The first two episodes had over one million viewers each, a high number for its timeslot. However, some of the numbers could be attributed to the series that comes in the timeslot before Sirens, USA’s lawyer drama smash hit, Suits. Suits is one of the few series that survived the recent cut performed by the network to bring in fresh content. Shows like White Collar and Suits were renewed for new seasons, while others like Necessary Roughness and In Plain Sight were left by the wayside.
The network is hoping that Sirens follows the path of some of the great original comedies shown over the years. Back in 2002, the series Monk took the television world by storm. The series followed an obsessive compulsive detective with a quirky personality and a keen insight. Over the show’s eight seasons, Monk won multiple awards and nominations to go along with monster television ratings. The final episode of Monk on December 4, 2009 earned a record-breaking 9.4 million viewers. In the lull between Monk’s seasons, USA debuted Psych, a show about a fake psychic detective working for the Santa Barbara Police Department. Psych became an enjoyable mainstay of USA’s lineup, but all good things must come to an end. The series is in the middle of its final season, airing its final episode later this month.
With longtime series like Psych and Burn Notice ending over the past year, and the recent cancellations of In Plain Sights and Necessary Roughness, there is a hole in the USA Network’s television lineup. The network and producers Fisher and Leary are putting a lot faith in Sirens to fill that hole, becoming a hit show and bringing the network’s fresh original content back to life.
Commentary by Jonathan Gardner