TV View – Nurse JackieFebruary 23, 2010
I’ve been watching Nurse Jackie on BBC2 for the last few weeks and it finished last night. Apparently, there’s a new series due to come out later in the year. It’s probably out in America already, but I have the poor man’s digibox to work with, so shoot me.
Nurse Jackie is from the TV Company, Showtime, which introduced us to Dexter, another fantastic show. Showtime and HBO bring out interesting, edgy shows that assume adults are watching and treat us accordingly. Witness The Wire and The Sopranos. So what’s it about? Nurse Jackie is the nurse of the title who’s worked for many years in the ER department of All Saints’ hospital in New York City. She knows more than the doctors, but of course they think they know best and she can be harsh at times. She cuts corners like forging donor cards of the just expired to save other people’s lives and she always sticks up for the underdog. She also has a secret drug habit, using painkillers to get her through the day. There’s an even bigger secret, but I’m not telling you what that is if you haven’t yet seen the show. Playing Nurse Jackie is Edie Falco, who with her short hair looks disconcertingly like a blonde Roy Scheider. American audiences probably know her really well from other shows, but I’ve only known her as Carmella from The Sopranos and although she was good as the Jersey wife of Tony Soprano, I did think she was overshadowed a bit by the power of James Gandolfini in the lead role. Here, she is given a chance to shine and she absolutely does. To carry at least 90% of the scenes of a show and be able to hold our attention and capture our imagination takes a special talent and she has it.
Although Falco is the lead, there are plenty of strong supporting performances making for a satisfying show. There’s dopey Zoey, the nursing student played by Merritt Wever, who wears pink scrubs with cute puppy prints. She starts out annoying everyone, but as the show progresses, she becomes more a part of the team and well liked, though the team members probably wouldn’t say it out loud. There’s Mo-Mo, the male nurse, who’s good for gossip. You also have Dr Fitch ‘coop’ Cooper, the arrogant young doctor who responds in a particular way when stressed. The other doctor who is older, but equally arrogant and happens to be English is Dr O Hara, played by Eve Best. She’s lives for the purchase of the next designer label and is Jackie’s best friend. Their nemesis is the ER administrator, Gloria Akalitus. She’s the authority they kick against at every opportunity. You can go from laughter to tears, to gob smacking “that didn’t really happen did it?” within each 30-minute fast moving episode. The patients are bit players to the main piece, which is the sometimes caustic relationship between the staff. And there’s plenty of industrial language. Casualty this is not.
The final show was a belter. Secrets started to come out, the hard hearted were shown to have a heart after all, and nurse Jackie did something so shocking at the end that you wonder where the show will go from there.
Season two? Can’t wait!