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Nurse Jackie: Season Two(TV) (2010)
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 Two and the Nurse Jackie: Season Two Blu-ray release, see Nurse Jackie: Season Two Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on February 17, 2011 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 Two Blu-ray Review
This is your nurse on drugs.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, February 17, 2011
There's been a lot of talk through the years about "heroin chic" in terms of the drug addled look of many modern models in print ads. But has anyone really talked much about the new "addiction chic" which seems to be ingratiating itself more and more into episodic television, both broadcast and cable? Of course we've long had characters with substance abuse issues, but we seem to be entering a new era where addiction is almost celebrated in a curious way. Everyone from Dr. House to Dexter has been dealing with their own inner compulsions, whether that be to pop a pain pill or slit somebody's throat. And newer shows like Breaking Bad and Weeds have romanticized the "art of the deal," to coin a paraphrase. Sociologists and "culture warriors" may be troubled by this development, but television audiences seem to be drawn to these characters with tragic flaws.
Into the fray comes the acerbic emergency room nurse Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco in an Emmy winning performance), the titular character of Showtime's relatively new Nurse Jackie series, about to enter its third season. Jackie dabbles in addiction chic as it walks a sometimes wavering line between comedy and drama, supposedly determined to show that even a character high on Vicodin can still deliver the goods in terms of saving a patient, even as her own personal life seems to be slowly spiraling down the drain. Some professional nursing organizations have taken great umbrage at the dramatic license Nurse Jackie takes with regard to its portrayal of this undervalued and indispensable vocation, and there's no denying that the series, in the best manner of all "modern women," wants to have it all. Jackie snorts her drugs but still manages to crack one liners and deal with critically injured patients. Only in her messy romantic life do things seem to be completely and utterly out of control.
Falco made her mark on television in the iconic role of Carmela Soprano on The Sopranos, and while Carmela and Jackie Peyton are worlds apart, they both have a sort of steely resolve that Falco enacts quite convincingly. There's little doubt Jackie is the smarter of the two characters, at least in terms of "book learning," but the fascinating thing is watching Jackie approaching near Carmela levels of "street smarts" as she wends her way through her addiction. What is quite notable about Nurse Jackie is how it is able to frame some of these very disturbing issues in terms that, while not laugh out loud hilarious, still are darkly humorous at times. Jackie's continuing "relationship" with the computer-operated medication dispenser leads to some funny schtick throughout this second season, especially when Jackie herself is called upon to monitor usage of the machine due to "shrinkage" (i.e., drugs disappearing, which of course they're doing courtesy of Jackie herself).
Nurse Jackie does elicit some outright laughs at times from the many supporting characters. My favorite moment from the second season was a little throwaway scene with Anna Deavere Smith as hospital administrator Gloria Akalitus. Gloria is on the phone absolutely chewing out some poor unnamed schlub who owes the hospital a check. Gloria, usually the model of decorum, is not mincing words with this individual, and finally gets her way, closing the conversation with a very polite, "Thank you, Monsignor." It's "little" moments like that that give Nurse Jackie its slightly skewed look at both the characters themselves as well as the particular culture of All Saints.
Where the series goes at least slightly awry, and part of what may have raised the ire of the professional nurses' associations which have complained about the show, is the fact that there is no compelling reason given for Jackie's dangerous and compulsive behavior. While her marriage is no doubt at least slightly dysfunctional, the show doesn't paint husband Kevin (Dominic Fumusa) as an outright lout or anything even close to it. While that might seem brave of the show's writers, it leaves the lingering question of whether their titular character is simply a user, utilizing the pharmacist with whom she's having a torrid affair simply because he can provide her with drugs. Jackie is obviously not cut from the same cloth as June Cleaver and/or Florence Nightingale, to say the least.
As with Weeds, this sibling Showtime outing benefits from its half hour running time, which keeps the show fairly brisk even when it's delving into melodramatic subplots, like the pharmacist's "pretend" suicide. Falco is a force to be reckoned with, able to easily walk the tightrope between a character who's tough as nails even as she's dissolving into a million fractured pieces. The supporting cast is also wonderfully diverse and extremely well cast, including the aforementioned Smith, as well as the marvelous Eve Best as Jackie's best friend, Dr. Eleanor O'Hara. A lot of the laughs come from over-enthusiastic first year nursing student Zoey Barkow, perfectly portrayed by Merritt Wever.
Whether Nurse Jackie will be able to continue walking this tonal tightrope remains to be seen, but the second season maintains a high level of sophistication in the writing and characterization that bodes well for at least another season or two of the series. It's to the series' credit that, thus far at least, the unseemly elements of Jackie's character haven't made her unlikable. Her behavior might be questionable, to say the least, but under Falco's assured hand, Jackie actually becomes a sympathetic character, despite her very obvious flaws. That balancing act may in fact not be possible to maintain, at which point the professional nurses' associations may have some real complaining to do.
Nurse Jackie: Season Two Blu-ray, Video Quality
Nurse Jackie: Season Two arrives bedside (or wherever your home theater is) with a nice looking AVC encoded 1080p presentation in 1.78:1. This show may not sparkle like the best high-def cable television series, but it has an overall very sharp and well detailed image that admirably captures the garish fluorescent lighting of the hospital environment, while also providing well detailed and warmer settings like the Peyton home and several outdoor locales. Colors pop rather nicely throughout this season, and close-ups especially reveal a wealth of fine detail. Strangely, some mid-range shots suffer from softness and murkiness. The series is often cast in a sort of pale green to blue hue, and the dreamlike sequences with effulgent light that begin every episode also are very well detailed, with no blooming whatsoever.
Nurse Jackie: Season Two Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Does a series this dialogue heavy really call for a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix? Probably not, but audiophiles should be very pleased with the excellent soundtrack offered here, even if the surrounds are utilized almost exclusively for ambient environmental effects and the charmingly understated score by Wendy and Lisa. Dialogue is almost always front and center in this mix, and is invariably clear, precise and very easy to hear. Some of the noisier emergency room sequences pop very nicely with very good surround activity, but really the bulk of this show is an up close and extremely intimate look at various characters, so there just isn't ample opportunity to wow listeners with over the top immersion. Fidelity here is top notch, with excellent dynamic range and complete accuracy across all frequencies. It's probably a good thing that persnickety consumers "only" have a lossless 7.1 mix to complain about, don't you think?
Nurse Jackie: Season Two Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Nurse Jackie: Season Two dispenses a good supply of supplements spread across both Blu-ray discs in this set:
Nurse Jackie: Season Two Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There are troubling aspects to Nurse Jackie that really haven't been properly addressed yet in either of the show's first two seasons, and those aspects may in fact ultimately doom the series. The piper must be paid somewhere along the line, and Jackie Peyton is going to have to face her demons, for better or worse, before this show can really start delving into the issues it has already raised. Nonetheless, the series manages a rather daring high wire act that manages to fully articulate Jackie's (many) flaws without ever making her seem unsympathetic, and that's a testament both to the writing prowess on display here, as well as Falco's pitch perfect performance. The third season of Nurse Jackie will probably tell the tale about this series' ultimate lasting power, but the second season, warts and all, is Recommended.
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According to TV Shows on DVD, Lionsgate Home Entertainment will release two TV season sets on Blu-ray on February 22, 2011, both starring women of somewhat questionable morals: Nurse Jackie: Season Two and Weeds: Season Six. Each of them will come in a two-disc ...
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