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Nurse Jackie: Season One(TV) (2009)
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 One and the Nurse Jackie: Season One Blu-ray release, see Nurse Jackie: Season One Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on February 16, 2010 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 One Blu-ray Review
The first season of Showtime's latest series lands on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, February 16, 2010
Since the introduction of ER in the primetime drama slot, television producers clamored over one another to deliver the next big hit. Some follow-ups have developed a loyal following (Grey's Anatomy), while others faced the chopping block (Trauma). No matter your feeling on the genre, there's no denying the appeal of the medical atmosphere, and the Showtime network wasn't about to let that audience slip through their hands. Casting heavy-hitting Edie Falco (Sopranos) in the starring role was the first of many steps toward ratings gold, but in my opinion the success of Nurse Jackie lies almost entirely in the writing freedom that accompanies a production on premium cable networks. We can all admit there's something increasingly cinematic and edgy about HBO and Showtime offerings, which aren't handcuffed by the constraints of conservative corporate sponsors or the watchful eye of the Federal Communications Commission. I'm always excited to discover these shows when they're eventually released on disc, since my lack of patience doesn't correlate with the weekly release schedule of network television. I'll certainly make exceptions, but it's far more enjoyable to soak up a 12-episode marathon of an engaging series in one sitting, and Nurse Jackie is no exception.
Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) is the lead emergency room nurse at New York's All Saints Hospital. As we first get to know Jackie, she appears to be a confident middle-aged woman who succumbs to several vices in order to survive the daily pressures of her demanding occupation. Sure, she engages in on-the-clock sexual activities with her boyfriend pharmacist (Paul Schultze), and in turn receives narcotic medication for her "back problems", but those actions could simply reflect her coping mechanism for dealing with incompetent doctors and demanding patients. How could anyone argue with that reasoning? Unfortunately, we've only scratched the surface of a life that's anything but ordinary. This tough-as-nails nurse moonlights as the wife of a dedicated husband (Dominic Fumusa), and the nurturing mother of two young daughters (Ruby Jerins and the adorable Daisy Tahan). Preferring to keep her work life separate from her home life, she allows only one friendship to exist within both realities under the assumption her indiscretions will remain a well-kept secret. This friend also happens to be one of the leading doctors in the emergency wing (Eve Best), who also suffers from her own personality flaws. On the outside, Jackie seems to have everything together, but hidden within her tough exterior is a discontent sadist with a penchant for self-destructive behavior. Always teetering one Vicodin away from disaster, Jackie must fight to keep the walls from closing in around her, and look for support in the most unusual places. So much for an ordinary day in the life of a nurse...
I'm finding it difficult to decide how I feel about Nurse Jackie. One the one hand, we have an interesting character study of extremely flawed people, and on the other hand, you have a protagonist with fleeting moments of redeeming attributes, who can't seem to get her act together. The majority of the show focuses on Jackie's struggles with addiction (to her job, pills, and sex), but it would be a disservice to the series if we simply passed it off with such a simple assessment. More or less, I found it a gender bending portrayal of moral turpitude, which presents a fresh perspective on society's view of a woman's actions. For years, we've witnessed countless series that focus on a successful husband, who risks his family or job for the pleasures of the flesh. Nurse Jackie turns the tables upside down, and presents a strong female lead who remains incapable of discovering satisfaction with her ordinary life, and goes to immeasurable lengths to cope with her mounting problems. Anytime something goes wrong, she reaches for a Percocet. When a patient dies, she snorts Oxycontin. She even goes to the drastic length of crushing up her pills to use as sweetener in her coffee throughout the day. Similar to the affair aspect of the gender displacement in the show, I found it intriguing that the writers merely replaced alcohol or cocaine with something far more relevant in modern society. One of the greatest scenes in the show comes at the midpoint of the season when Jackie notices a temp is using some form of illicit drug. After giving him a verbal lashing and directing him to the door, the temp turns to her and simply states "it takes one to know one". Jackie's clearly offended by the statement (as the temp willingly leaves the hospital), but what I enjoyed so much about that scene, is Jackie's insistence on believing she doesn't have a problem, and shrugging off the fact that something's wrong. She appears to view her family in much the same way, and despite fleeting moments of moral awakening, always finds her way back to one vice or another. The first season demonstrates a certain capacity for good, but it rarely reaches the surface.
Despite the undercurrents of depressing subject matter, there's no denying the quality of writing and acting in the series. Beginning with the writing, I was pleasantly surprised with the shows ability to balance the medical aspects of the drama with the growing relationships at the hospital. In many ways, the medical emergencies simply show us different sides of the characters we grow to recognize, and help further the overall arch of the story. Beyond the structure of the series, I appreciate the clever dialog (often laced with profanity), and the use of well-placed narration to get inside Jackie's mind. Some of her lines are extremely profound, and truly enhance the experience (the end of the pilot episode is a good example). Speaking of Jackie, actress Edie Falco needs little introduction after her eight year span on Sopranos, but it's still worth noting this is Falco at her best. I couldn't imagine anyone else playing the role of Jackie and pulling off the emotional rollercoaster with such ease. Whether she's starting a fight with a school nurse, training a clueless newbie, or giving advice to her co-worker "Mo-Mo" (a homosexual male nurse), Falco literally becomes the role. Whether you love to hate Jackie or vice versa, the series is Falco's ship, and we're simply along for the ride.
Nurse Jackie: Season One Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at an average bitrate of 36Mbps), Nurse Jackie looks unremarkable for a production shot within the past year. Matters improve somewhat after the initial series pilot (which seems overly hazy), but even the later episodes fail to generate a striking level of clarity. I'm not concerned with the use of DNR since the image still retains a fine level of grain, but the lack of distinct texturing (in most scenes) prevents the transfer from reaching the upper echelon of Blu-ray quality. Digging into the coloring of the show, the cold atmosphere of the hospital setting doesn't lend itself to a vibrant palette, but there's still decent variance within the available spectrum, and the occasional outdoor sequences add much-needed life. On the positive side, the bright setting of the well-lit interior shots allows contrast to shine, and I never found a shred of weakness in black level depth.
I wouldn't diagnose this as a weak entry on Blu-ray, but those interested in adding the series to their collection shouldn't expect more than an average presentation.
Nurse Jackie: Season One Blu-ray, Audio Quality
I hate to complain when a studio offers a lossless 7.1 audio track, but the nature of the material doesn't allow for a dramatic improvement through the incorporation of surround separation. The dialogue is crisp and distinct, but remains firmly planted in the front sound stage, with only occasional environmental effects emerging from the rear speakers. Each episode tosses a musical entry in the mix at some point (usually toward the end of each episode), allowing a much needed opportunity for the entire sound field to come alive, but those fleeting moments of immersion simply remind us how plain the rest of the series remains. I wish I could expand further and paint you a better picture, but given the singular nature of the audio experience, most viewers will find it just as uneventful as I have.
Nurse Jackie: Season One Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Audio Commentaries with Edie Falco (Jackie Peyton), Linda Wallem (writer/executive producer), Liz Brixius (writer/executive producer) & Ritchie Jackson (co-executive producer): The commentary tracks play during the course of four episodes (Pilot, Tiny Bubbles, Ring Finger, and Health Care & Cinema), and focus mainly on the actors in the film. Several tidbits regarding the production are included, but the featured voices spend a good deal of time joking around and making sarcastic comments with one another.
All About Edie (1080i, Dolby Digital 2.0, 5:26 min): Consisting of interviews with actors, writers, and producers, this supplement focuses on Edie Falco's involvement in the series, and the nuances of her character.
Unsung Heroes (1080i, Dolby Digital 2.0, 5:32 min): Given the interesting portrayal of Jackie (and the lines she's willing to cross), this is an ironic supplement focusing on the nursing occupation, and manner in which the creators pay tribute to the profession.
Prepping "Nurse Jackie" (1080i, Dolby Digital 2.0, 10:55 min): The interviews in prior segments continue with a focus on the themes of the series and why everyone felt it would become a huge hit. A portion of the runtime allows each actor an adequate opportunity to discuss what drew them to the show.
Nurse Stories (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 6:58 min): This supplement includes a collection of colorful stories from real-life nurses.
Nurse Jackie: Season One Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Despite my enjoyment of the show, I'm ultimately sticking with a rental recommendation for Nurse Jackie. The initial season offers plenty of entertainment value, but the off-putting nature of the series doesn't translate to material that warrants a repeat viewing. Perhaps I'll discover the lasting appeal I'm looking for in the second season and reverse my opinion at a later date, but as a stand-alone release, this 12-episode introduction isn't something I plan to revisit in the near future.
Nurse Jackie: Other Seasons
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Nurse Jackie: Season One Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Nurse Jackie Season One Blu-ray in February - November 29, 2009
Lionsgate Home Entertainment will release 'Nurse Jackie: Season One' on Blu-ray on February 23, 2010. This two-disc set will include all 12 episodes from the 2009 season of the Showtime series about an emergency room nurse starring Edie Falco. Special features ...
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