If most networks aired “Nurse Jackie,” a new dramady series about an opinionated veteran nurse who plays by her own rules, it would likely seem trite and obnoxious. But when aired on Showtime, a network noted for shows about serial killers, sex addicted (and statutory rapist) novelists and the erotic escapades of Henry VIII, it is bound to generate at least a little interest.
Enticed when I saw the ad to stream the show’s pilot episode for free on Showtime’s official site, I gave ‘er a view and while I wasn’t blown away, I must say I left the show feeling fairly satisfied.
The title character is played by Edie “Rock Me Amadeus” Falco, who returns to television for the first time after winning three Emmy’s playing Carmela Soprano, and I have to say she’s quite good. I don’t want to sound sexist, but sometimes television producers will try to have us believe a female character is “strong-willed” when she’s actually just a loud mouth. Fortunately that isn’t the case here, as Jackie is a very enjoyable character to watch. She’s very smart and engaging when challenging authorities. The highlight of the episode comes when she takes revenge on a foreign ambassador who was granted diplomatic immunity after savagely attacked a young woman. Without giving it away, her payback is very cool, if not remarkably disturbing.
I also like that the pilot didn’t shy away from Jackie’s flaws. Her main problem is that she is addicted to pain killers which she takes to aid a serious back problem. She’s also involved in other behaviors that are not, shall we say, “biblical.” I find it easier to relate to characters if they are in some sort of emotional distress, and Jackie seems to have enough to at least support a few seasons.
The show also gets points for displaying a good dynamic between old and new hospital personnel. Scenes such as Jackie and a veteran co-worker callously debating which one of them is going to provide CPR to a choking restaurant patron plays nicely against a scene of a new nurse vomiting at the sight of a multiple stab wound victim. I’m not in the medical profession, but one would assume such stark contrasts do occur between older and newer members of the industry.
A complaint I had towards this episode is that while some of the dialogue is clever, certain elements of said cleverness at times seem a bit forced and self-conscious. Also, Jackie’s gay male nurse friend Mohammed ‘Mo-Mo’ De La Cruz, seemed like he was off the gay character assembly line, as there was nothing I found distinguishing about him.
I don’t want the above statements to seem to harsh though as these both could just be problems that come with working out the kinks of the series’ first few episodes. The point of the pilot is essentially to just keep you wanting to watch future episodes, and on this basis, “Nurse Jackie,” for the most part, succeeds.
The series premiers Monday at 10:30 on Showtime. Prior to its premier, it is streaming on the networks official site. If you get Showtime, I would recommend waiting and watching it Monday, as the episode contains a great deal of profanity, all of which is censored online and this becomes a bit tiresome.
If you don’t get Showtime, it’s at least good enough for a free stream. And while the episode wasn’t so engaging I felt the need to impulsively pay the money to order the network, I could see it being good enough for a rental if, and when it appears on DVD.
- Well Acted
- A bit self-conscious
- A few under developed characters
- Online profanity cuts are annoying (Side note: DO NOT watch the “Californication” episode listed on the same page as the censorship is insufferable.)
Final Score: 7.5/10