In the US: Mondays, 10.30pm ET/PT, Showtime
You've got to hand it to Showtime in the US. In the last three years, they've gone from being "the network that would like to be HBO but isn't" to the near-undisputed leader in quality TV in the US. Californication, Dexter, Weeds, Brotherhood - the list keeps getting longer and longer.
Let's add Nurse Jackie to that list.
If the US were to ever remake either Green Wing or No Angels and still make it a success, this it what it would come up with. Nurse Jackie is a nurse - simultaneously just like every other nurse but also like no other. She knows better than the doctors what should be done. She knows better than the patients.
In fact, even though everyone disagrees with her, she's still going to do what she thinks is right to save lives, whether that's fake a signature on an organ donor form or flush a criminal's ear down the toilet.
Be glad nurse Jackie's looking after you - but also be a little frightened.
NURSE JACKIE is a half-hour dark comedy that is at turns wicked, heartbreaking and funny. Edie Falco stars as the title character Jackie O'Hurley, a strong-willed and brilliant -- but very flawed -- emergency room nurse in a complicated New York City hospital. A lapsed Catholic with an occasional weakness for Vicodin and Adderall to get her through the days, Jackie keeps the hospital balanced with her own kind of justice. Every day is a high wire act of juggling patients, doctors, fellow nurses and her own indiscretions. The series also stars Eve Best, Peter Facinelli, Merritt Wever, Haaz Slieman and Paul Schulze.
Is it any good?
As a piece of fly-on-the-wall filmmaking, the show kind of sucks: beyond the incompetence of the new doctor, not an awful lot of this rings true to most hospitals and in those hospitals where it might be true, reality's a whole lot nastier. However, considered for what it is - a piece of nurses-behaving-badly wish fulfilment - it really is a whole load of fun.
Edie Falco's nurse Jackie is a flawed individual who tries to do the right thing by her patients and to do her job well. She also wishes she didn't have to do everyone else's job as well, and if she needs to take some drugs and screw her boyfriend during breaks to keep her going, fair enough. Okay, stealing things for patients from other patients and doctors might not be totally above board, but her heart's in the right place at least.
The pilot episode comes across a little as a collection of anecdotes, with nurse Jackie popping from unconnected scene to unconnected scene, observing something odd, using the benefit of her experience to see what the matter is, and then doing something dodgy to remedy the situation. It all comes together at the end, but the degree of randomness that populates the episode (such as a scene where Jackie tells off a doctor for doing the wrong thing, only for him to grab her breast - because he has "sexually inappropriate grabbing Tourettes" that forces him to do inappropriate things when he's stressed) means it's hard to consider it a flowing narrative. Still, this slightly disconcerting quality does make it interesting to watch, since you're never quite sure what's going to happen next.
Falco and the rest of the cast are good, and the slightly sociopathic English doctor (Eve Best) is an amusing companion in crime to Jackie. Gay best friend 'Mo-Mo' (aka Mohammed) feels like an unnecessary addition at this stage but could turn out to be more interesting in later episodes. If you like your comedy dark and like to see complex female characters, Nurse Jackie's definitely worth a look.
- June 18, 2009: Review: Hawthorne 1x1
A review of the first episode of TNT's new show Hawthorne, starring Jada Penikett Smith
- June 20, 2009: Third-episode verdict: Nurse Jackie
A review of the first three episodes of Showtime's Nurse Jackie
- September 27, 2009: Review: Mercy 1x1
A review of the first episode of NBC's Mercy
- April 13, 2015: What have you been watching? Including American Odyssey, Daredevil, Olympus and Silicon Valley
A review of the TV and films I watched in the week ending April 13 2015
- January 26, 2016: Review: Stan Lee's Lucky Man 1x1 (UK: Sky 1)
A review of the first episode of Sky 1's Stan Lee's Lucky Man