So I may have mentioned that I'm a dad. My son is only 2.5 years old, so he's still way to young for comics. I tried (when Mom wasn't looking) to get him started on Marvel's Super Hero Squad, but he didn't take too kindly to Fing Fang Foom or the Hulk. Maybe when he's a bit older. At the very least, he now calls the Jolly Green Giant the Hulk, so the foot is in the door.
He loves cartoons, though, and one cartoon in particular: Fireman Sam. It's set in the Welsh village of Pontypandy and everyone there is suicidal. This probably explains why there are only like eight people in the entire place (despite seeing row after row of houses) - the rest of the population succeeded in offing themselves and those that remain are just too dim to get the job done.
Not for lack of trying, mind you. Norman Price, the red headed son of the owner of the local market, endangers his life and others on a routine basis. He's always getting stuck on top of things (cliffs, towers), in things (fences, burning rooms), on things (doorknobs in said rooms), or at the bottom of things (wells). There's the town handyman, Mike Flood who is pretty clumsy and falls down pits or ends up dangling from roofs with a frequency that's even more disturbing when you consider his love of fireworks and rocketry. There's also a fisherman who gets stranded at sea, a sidekick firefighter who explodes ovens, a bus driver who really needs to pay better attention to the maintenance of his bus, and a handful of kids who just love to hide in underwater caves, under crates, or in burning buildings. Fireman Sam is called upon to rescue them all.
So what I'm saying is, it's a grim place. You think the writers of the show would have run out of emergencies by now, but Sam is actually in its second iteration. The original show was all claymation animated (and was originally all in Welsh) and the new version (the one my son loves) is computer animated.
Which leads me to my reboot, or at very least, my attempt to explain what the hell is going on.
Fireman Sam is dead. He is in Purgatory. The limited cast of characters that populate his limbo are the souls of those he could not rescue. Sam died in the transition between stopmotion animated and computer animation. This explains why the stereotypical Italian restaurant owner is now longer around - as a good Catholic, she ascended to Heaven.
Sam does not realize he is dead. He just goes through the same motions day after day. He will be free when he admits his failures, his sins, and his own death. There is an angel present - Charlie the Fisherman (get it!?). In the show, he's Sam's brother, a brother that was never mentioned in the show's initial run. That he is family in the Purgatory version is important as one of Sam's greatest sins is his refusal to acknowledge his own son, the only other ginger in town, Norman Price.
Norman has no stated dad and his mom, Dilys, has shown herself to be rather forward in her conquest of new lovers (Trevor the Bus Driver). So I imagine on some lonely night, perhaps while Sam was new in town, he and Dilys got it on. Dilys was blackmailing Sam - why else would she insist on calling him over every little thing? All those random visits were not just to "check the smoke detector," there was money exchanged. So when The Great Fire came, Sam took his chance and let Dilys burn. Unfortunately, he let the rest of the town burn as well.
So until he admits what he did, he's trapped, doomed to endlessly rescue the same crew of suicidal shades (they yearn to be free as well) from the hell of his own creation.
I sympathize with Fireman Sam, because until my toddler finds a new obsession, I'm damned as well - doomed to endlessly watch Fireman Sam endlessly rescue the same crew of suicidals.