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TV View – Nurse Jackie

February 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!

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4 comments

  1. The new season isn’t showing in USA yet, but they are re-showing the previous season’s EPs in preparation for it.

    As dramedy, I like the show very much. As a healthcare worker, it would HORRIFY me to run into someone like Jackie.

    I do understand that the situation is a frame through which to examine other themes such as personal integrity and authenticity. In this way it’s like Mad Men. In both series the lead character leads a double-life because they haven’t figured out how to be both honest and achieve their goals. That’s a BIG theme in many people’s lives.

    (I’ve been posting from the open road that leads ever onward.)


    • I’m glad you mentioned Mad Men. That’s also a great show in my opinion. It can seem quite slow for those who like whizz bang shows in colours to make your eyes bleed, but it’s the often difficult relationships between people that makes it interesting.

      Just last night I was watching it on BBC iPlayer and there was a scene between two fathers to-be in a waiting room. One was Don Draper who was to be a father for the third time and another man, a prison officer who was to be a father for the first time. They shared stories and whiskies and bonded over the impending fatherhood, but in another very short scene later in the show, the fathers passed each other in the corridor. Don had flowers for his wife and the other man was pushing his wife in a wheelchair with their new baby boy. Don started to acknowledge him, but was ignored by the man as if they’d never met. I think a fair amount of us have had that experience.

      You keep going on that open road and let us know when you arrive at your destination.


  2. Nurse Jackie is SO good and I’m glad that they’re showing the new series later in the year – it’s so refreshing to have a “dramedy” that doesn’t feel stale and is crammed with stuff from the first second to the last (and of course, I love Zoey’s scrubs!)

    Mad Men is great too – this week’s episode was funny in that “can’t put your finger on it” kind of way – I know I shouldn’t have but I laughed at the line “He’ll never golf again”. Tragic but weirdly humorous in my opinion but it says a lot about business.
    Nice blog – very thoughtful. Thanks for visiting mine!
    Ciao

    http://scarletsculturegarden.wordpress.com


    • I saw that episode of Mad Men and I know the scene you’re talking about. It made me laugh in a guilty fashion, considering what happened to one of the characters of the show, poor thing. Thanks for your comments, Scarlet. You can drop in anytime when you get a spare moment.



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