The "Rescue Me" panel at the Television Critics Association summer press tour devolved to the point where show creator Peter Tolan made good on a threat to drop his pants in front of the crowd.
It was by far the best panel of the tour so far.
Tolan, who we can attest wears tight blue underwear of the type referred to as a banana hammock, was on hand with his fellow co-creator Denis Leary to discuss the fireman drama-comedy's seventh and final season.
The panel started off in reflective and somber mode, with a discussion about how they'll approach the finale, which airs four days ahead of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. But halfway through, Leary and Tolan started joking around, as they have been known to do over the years at past press tours.
"We're all going to end up in the same place," said Leary, philosophically, about whether the series will end on September 7 on an upbeat note. "There's no happy endings for any of us."
Tolan jumped in. "That place is this ballroom a year from now," he said, referring to the windowless, cavernous location in the Beverly Hilton where the event has been held for the past 12 days.
Leary offered up a sympathetic rant about how burned out the TV reporters in the house must be at this point at the TCA. "You guys have spent, what three f------ weeks here talking to f------ TV people," joked Leary, "and now you're f------ bored!" This led Tolan to threaten, jokingly, "I'm going to take my pants off" to re-energize the jaded reporters in the room.
A few minutes later he did just that -- and Tolan's indecent act did, indeed, re-energize the crowd of jaded reporters. One critic observed that Tolan had "a nice package." Tolan replied, "CAA handles all my packaging."
Leary went on a bemused tirade about the projects "Rescue Me" alums have in the pipeline at USA Network. "[They're] f------ raiding 'Rescue Me,'" he said. "[Steven] Pasquale's shooting a pilot for them. Callie [Thorne] is starring in a new show for them. I'm writing a pilot for them." And then Tolan cut in to add: "I'm doing very mild janitorial work -- and working for just a few weeks as [USA programming executive] Jeff Wachtel's fluffer."
Tolan also interrupted a question aimed at Leary about whether he's worried that he'll be most associated with his "Rescue Me" character going forward. "When you say that Denis will be remembered for this part, I think you're forgetting 'Operation Dumbo Drop,'" Tolan teased.
Leary closed the panel by looking back on what "Rescue Me" meant to him -- and not uncharacteristically, roasted himself in the process. “We had a f------ blast for seven years,” he said. “This has been the greatest experience, besides 'Operation Dumbo Drop,' of my career.”