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Nurse Jackie: Season Four(TV) (2012)
Jackie Peyton is a nurse trying to survive the chaotic grind of saving lives in a hectic New York City hospital. Sharp-tongued and quick-witted, Jackie's a woman of substance who knows how to handle it all. With a white lie here, a bent rule there, and a steady dose of pain relievers for her chronic back pain, Jackie does whatever it takes to get the job done.
For more about Nurse Jackie: Season Four and the Nurse Jackie: Season Four Blu-ray release, see Nurse Jackie: Season Four Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on February 10, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Edie Falco, Anna Deavere Smith, Paul Schulze, Eve Best, Peter Facinelli, Dominic Fumusa
Directors: Randall Einhorn, Scott Ellis
» See full cast & crew
Nurse Jackie: Season Four Blu-ray Review
Maybe Obamacare can cover some pre-existing conditions.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, February 10, 2013
A close friend was talking about Flight at a get together, and she jokingly stated, "I'm not afraid of flying—I'm afraid of crashing," going on to say she didn't know what she would have done had she ever been on a plane and seen a glassy eyed pilot in the cockpit. All of us regularly entrust our lives to all sorts of people and we more often than not have absolutely no idea of the mental states and/or the health statuses of these folks. Everyone from the corner policeman to an EMT to someone as relatively mundane as a tour guide might be undergoing stresses that aren't necessarily obvious to an outside observer, and yet if you need help (in the case of the cop or EMT) or directions (in the case of the tour guide), you probably wouldn't think twice (or most likely even once) about what any of these people are experiencing in their lives. It's kind of a case of a "user" economy, as it were, where we see people for what they can provide to us, without bothering too much on the niceties of what we could provide to them. But in a situation like that in Flight, or in fact the rather dark Showtime series Nurse Jackie, there are actual lives at stake and the mental wherewithal of the central characters is most definitely something that needs to be paid attention to. Much like Denzel Washington's Whip Whitaker, Edie Falco's Jackie Peyton is a professional who hides her inner demons (and addictions) more or less artfully, at least to those who only deal with her in passing. If Jackie hasn't quite faced the trial by fire that greets Flight's main character, she has repeatedly proven that even when she's high as a kite she can still manage to perform at least some of her duties fairly effortlessly. But the seams have been showing in both Jackie's personal and professional life for some time now, and in this fourth season of the series, some serious fraying occurs.
In my review of Nurse Jackie: Season Two, I mentioned a perhaps disturbing trend on television that I termed "addiction chic", namely the portrayal of various characters under the influence of various illicit substances. House, M.D, Weeds (which just wrapped up an eight year run), and Breaking Bad are just a few of the shows that posited lead characters who have their own "issues" with drugs. This "addiction chic" has continued unabated but it's also slightly morphed into what I might be tempted to call "rehab chic". House, M.D. of course dealt with a doctor falling in and out of so-called recovery, but the new CBS Sherlock Holmes update Elementary has a major subtext about staying clean and sober (in this formulation of the iconic Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Watson is a female and is Holmes' "sober companion"), and this fourth season of Nurse Jackie also tackles Jackie's longstanding problem with pill popping, finally getting the character into rehab.
Nurse Jackie has frankly always had a harder time maintaining a consistent tone than its Showtime sibling Weeds. Weeds has benefited from a perhaps easier ability to engage in snark and wry humor; after all, it's not problematic in any major way to laugh at a family as dysfunctional as the Botwins, even if they are engaged in dealing marijuana. But an ER nurse high on prescription meds? That's not exactly the stuff of guffaws, and a lot of Nurse Jackie has not just pushed the envelope, it's ripped it into shreds, enraging professional nursing organizations in the process. This fourth season eschews a lot of the darker comedy elements, which might actually be a good thing, except for the fact that they've been replaced with outright melodrama.
If Jackie's professional problems are best summed up in this season with her expectedly rocky trip through rehab, her personal issue manifest in her deteriorating marriage to long suffering Kevin (Dominic Fumusa). Those who have stuck with Nurse Jackie from the beginning may in fact be wondering, "What took him so long?", but in fact the kind of desperate clinging to each other that Kevin and Jackie have exhibited has seemed rather emotionally realistic, even if Jackie's repeatedly reckless decisions have at times not been as authentic feeling. One of the major questions facing the writers of Nurse Jackie is how they'll proceed with this particular plot arc, with either road they may explore offering ample dramatic opportunities.
There's one fear about this newest development in Jackie's personal life, and it ties in with one of the better elements introduced this season, the arrival of Bobby Cannavale as Mike Cruz, a kind of officious, take no prisoners bureaucrat who becomes the new Big Man on Campus around All Saints. Mike and Jackie immediately have a dislike for each other, which of course is shorthand for an unspoken passion for each other, as is made manifest in at least one dream Jackie has. My own hope is that the writers don't take the easy way out here and opt for the old "hate at first sight turning into abiding love in the long run" scenario.
There's also one totally annoying subplot running through this fourth season which is tangentially linked to Jackie's rehab and (hopeful) recovery as well as Mike's arrival at the hospital. She befriends a young man named Charlie (Jake Cannavale), a friendship which may seem unlikely due to the large age discrepancy between the two and their radically different backgrounds, but which in fact blossoms into a kind of conspiratorial "you and me against the world" sort of bond. But the writers once again introduce needless melodrama as well as one way too convenient coincidence that some viewers may find particularly irritating.
As with previous seasons of the series, the reason to keep tuning in is the caliber of the performances. Falco has really gotten very deeply into this character, and she's achingly effective in several key scenes scattered throughout this season. The supporting cast is uniformly excellent, with Anna Deveare Smith especially enjoyable in her recurring role as Gloria Akalitus, the erstwhile administrator who finds her role suddenly diminished when Mike's mega-corporation takes over All Saints Hospital.
There is however a certain lethargy creeping into Nurse Jackie. Weeds recently ended its eight year run on a slightly downward spiral, never quite reaching the arch heights it had enjoyed in previous seasons. Some may wonder if Nurse Jackie has, to coin a phrase, "jumped the Percoset" and is simply coasting on a largely bygone high.
Nurse Jackie: Season Four Blu-ray, Video Quality
Nurse Jackie: Season Four is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Films and Showtime with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. Nurse Jackie continues to be a better than average looking series that nonetheless never really pops in total high definition magnificence simply because so much of it is set in the glaring fluorescent halls of a hospital or, alternatively, in kind of drab and dreary environments like Jackie's house or (in this season) the rehab facility. The best part of this high definition presentation is in the ubiquitous use of close-ups, which really do offer abundant fine detail (to the point that Falco as Jackie looks really haggard quite a bit throughout this season). Colors continue to be accurate looking and generally well saturated and contrast is also generally quite strong, able to navigate the effulgence of the hospital lights and the darkness of some of the other environments.
Nurse Jackie: Season Four Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Nurse Jackie: Season Four, like its Showtime sibling Weeds, is presented with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track that may strike some as somewhat needless, given the generally small scale sonic ambitions of the series. There is some really good surround activity in a lot of the hospital sequences, with extremely nuanced aural depth of field, but the vast bulk of Nurse Jackie is in dialogue scenes that typically play out between two or three characters at a time, making a 7.1 mix kind of unnecessary. That said, fidelity is extremely strong, and the occasional use of source cues also helps to fill out the surround channels. Dynamic range is pretty negligible, as should be expected in a series that focuses largely on characters and less on sonic fireworks.
Nurse Jackie: Season Four Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Nurse Jackie: Season Four Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Don't get me wrong: there's still a lot to like about Nurse Jackie, not the least of which is Falco's pretty fearless portrayal this season. But I really am starting to feel the handwriting is on the wall for this series, and my hope is that it doesn't overstay its welcome. I'm especially concerned that there's going to be a Cheers-esque conflict between Jackie and Mike that is going to blossom into romance, something that I personally feel would be far too facile for a series that has so deliberately tried to push the envelope. On the whole, Nurse Jackie is still fairly compelling, but there are enough troubling signs that some kind of intervention might be in order.
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Nurse Jackie: Season Four Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Nurse Jackie: Season Four Blu-ray - December 10, 2012
Lionsgate Films have officially announced and detailed their upcoming two-disc Blu-ray release of the fourth season of Showtime's original series Nurse Jackie. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the nation on February 12th.
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