Nurse Jackie

Edie Falco is utterly believable as a resolute, fragile, harangued and occasionally unethical Emergency nurse in Showtime's oustanding drama.

nurse_jackieWhen Nurse Jackie opens to Edie Falco reciting T.S. Eliot to the strains of Dionne Warwick singing Theme from Valley of the Dolls you just know we’re in for something different.

In the crowded TV world of medical  dramas it’s no surprise that Showtime is looking for a point of difference and it has it in ‘Nurse Jackie Peyton.’

On the floor of New York’s All Saints Hospital she is many things, but principally, one helluva nurse who knows the job like the back of her hand. Skilled, intelligent, tough and pragmatic, Jackie is there for the greater good. But she’s also imperfect, and it is in the cracks in her character that this thirty minute drama shines.

“What do you call a nurse with a bad back?” her voice over asks. “Unemployed.” When we meet Jackie it’s clear the relentless workload has already taken its toll. She is addicted to Oxycotin painkillers snorted around the corner from patients whose lives she is saving (Dr. Gregory House is also addicted to painkillers and it hasn’t damaged his popularity any). As the pilot episode unfolds,  Jackie takes the flaws a little further.

Jackie is rarely cheerful, flatly telling talkative patients, “Quiet and Mean are my people.” In a restaurant when a woman is choking on her meal she hesitates, cherishing her time off duty while esitmating the time it will take before brain damage sets in.

But somewhere beneath her resilience lays the heart of a guardian angel. When the young and inept Dr. Cooper (Peter Facinelli) ignores her advice and loses a patient it is Jackie who is left to pick up the pieces with a grieving family. She reprimands Cooper who clearly doesn’t know this city, and the people who inhabit her ward, as well as she.

Edie Falco sets a profound benchmark with Nurse Jackie, utterly believable in this most intriguing character. Her wearied face looks like it has lived through years of emergency cases, medical politics, double shifts and shrinking budgets. She is resolute, fragile, harangued, stubborn and occasionally unethical.

The supporting cast includes Merrit Wever as wet-around-the-ears first year nursing student Zoey Barkow, Paul Schulze as pharmacist Eddie Walzer, Eve Best as Dr. O’Hara and gay co-worker nurse Mohammed ‘Mo-Mo’ de la Cruz (Haaz Sleiman). With ‘Mo-Ho’ Jackie escapes from the pressure and bleak Emergency Ward, having deep and meaningful conversations on the pews of the hospital chapel.

Nurse Jackie is a stark essay, but with a glimmer of hope. At just thirty minutes it doesn’t outstay its welcome. At the disappointing timeslot of 10:25pm Sunday, when TEN notoriously struggles, there is more hope in the storyline than in its likelihood of success here. If you have faith in good writing, good performances and an engaging storyline none of this should deter you.

And just wait for the final scene.

45_starsNurse Jackie airs 10:25pm Sunday on TEN.

34 Responses

  1. Great black humour.
    Not sure why people think it’s “not realistic”?
    Or that Jackie’s giving nurses a bad name?
    Is TV, not a documentary!
    Do they think police/ courtroom dramas are realistic?

  2. I want to see Nurse Jackie. Found it by accident, never seen it again, not Another casualty? Come on! Are we all to only watch shows picked as suitable by a small group who apparently don’t represent me?

    Such a promising show, talented actress, good script – even the theme music & opening shots…. come on……. let’s give this one a fair go. I actually told friends (a first) only to be unable to ever find it again it seems!!

    Guess I’ll have to wait the usual couple of years until some one realizes we don’t all want the same show under different names. Your know, Crime Scene this or Crime Scene that or More Bloody Crime than you can shake a stick at…….

  3. having heard a rave review on abc i overlloked the first episode-howver

    for thelast two weeks it appear of have been replce by some moronic show

    called rav something.

    has jackie been junked or rescheduled ?

  4. I loved this show! Like many others found it by fluke when I was just about to switch off and go to bed, but became glued to my seat. Pity 10 has it on so late, and where on earth has it gone? Please don’t tell me they dumped it after airing just the pilot! Bring back Nurse Jack!!

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