Mini-review: Sirens 1×1-1×2 (USA)

False alarm

Sirens (USA)

In the US: Thursdays, 10/9c, USA

2011’s Sirens was a rare comedy for Channel 4. Based on real-life accounts of life in the London ambulance service, the show was edgy and funny as well as dramatic.

As is the way of things, it was cancelled at the end of the first season, but even before then, Dennis Leary was looking to adapt it for the US. Three years in the making, here it comes, and despite Leary’s own edginess and experience on Rescue Me, this is largely an insipid piece, taking all the sharp edges and character from the original and replacing it with blokes winding each other up and swearing.

Rather than a nihilistic paramedic, his possible romantic interest female cop and best friend, his gay best friend, a Muslim newbie and the hospital counsellor who has to deal with them, we now have a slightly blokey but neurotic paramedic (Michael Mosley from Scrubs), his ex-girlfriend cop (Jessica McNamee from Home and Away), his black gay best friend (Kevin Daniels) and a newbie paramedic who lives at home with his parents (Kevin Bigley). Also along for the ride is the Old Spice Guy (Isaiah Mustafa) as McNamee’s new boyfriend, as well as a couple of female paramedics who hang around in scenes and laugh a bit, and an old black guy who talks to them like a counsellor but isn’t.

And then we just watch them drive around from accident to accident, winding each other up. But there are no Muslims or issues of faith, no gay hook-ups, no booty calls from more powerful women, no real characterisation beyond the surface level, no insight into life as a paramedic. It’s just blokes making bloke jokes and silly people with soda bottles up their bottoms, or people struck by lightning and who act strangely afterwards. Let’s laugh at the silly people.

If I had to pick anything of interest other than the always awesome Mustafa, it’s that there’s an openly black gay character not being camp and yet still talking about being gay in a US TV series, which is novel. Also, the swearing, when allowed free flow in the second episode, almost verges on The Thick Of It for imagination.

But largely, it’s a pretty bog standard comedy that’s short on laughs, the big appeal of which is blokes winding each other up. Watch it if that’s your thing, otherwise try to watch the original instead.

Here’s a trailer. It makes it look better than it is, largely by taking moments from the entire first season, rather than just the first two episodes.