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Our reviews of Nurse Jackie: Season One (published March 18th, 2010), Nurse Jackie: Season One (Blu-ray) (published February 23rd, 2010), and Nurse Jackie: Season Three (Blu-ray) (published March 27th, 2012) are also available.
"Heavy lies the crown."
Facts of the Case
The life of Nurse Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco, The Sopranos) has become more challenging in a number of ways. She broke off her adulterous relationship with former co-worker Eddie Walzer (Paul Schulze, Rambo) and is attempting to focus on her marriage to Kevin (Dominic Fumusa, Management). However, Eddie is doing everything in how power to make that difficult. She's still very dependant on prescription medication to help her deal with pain and stress, but the new "pill-o-matix" machine makes it much more challenging to steal from work. Adding further stress is the fact that Jackie's oldest daughter Grace (Ruby Jerins, Shutter Island) is having a psychological crisis of sorts. Will Jackie be able to find solutions for all of her problems?
All twelve second-season episodes are spread across two discs…
In my review of Nurse Jackie: Season One, I noted that the show hadn't quite managed to reach its full potential yet. After watching Nurse Jackie: Season Two, I'm seriously beginning to doubt that it ever well. Frustratingly and somewhat depressingly, Nurse Jackie is revealing itself to be a thoroughly unambitious program. It keeps poking around at being an exploration of the modern medical industry, but it backs away from that subject much of the time. It hints at being a captivating drama, but it too frequently allows the characters to evade any significant consequences. It occasionally seems to tip into a quirky workplace comedy, but too much of the show is too dour to work on that level. Essentially, Nurse Jackie is a show which seriously lacks a sense of identity and purpose. It's just sort of there, half-heartedly throwing out mildly interesting conflicts and underdeveloped comic scenarios.
The second season of the show actually proves to be a bit worse than the first, and not only because the intrigue of the "getting to know you" period has worn off. A couple of this season's most significant plot strands are complete busts. First up, we have the "pill-o-matix" device that was introduced at the conclusion of the first season. This device (which carefully monitors all the drugs being taken out by nurses) was supposed to make Jackie's drug habits considerably more difficult (and perhaps aid in bringing some much-needed dramatic energy to the table). No such luck, as the pill-o-matix proves exceptionally easy to steal from. It gets employed in a series of uninteresting ways until it's finally replaced late in the season.
The bigger problem is the storyline involving Eddie, who is an irredeemable creep and quite possibly a psychopath. His behavior after Jackie breaks up with him is reprehensible: he stalks her, starts up a relationship with her husband, tries to mess up her personal life and threatens to ruin everything she has if she doesn't start sleeping with him again. Bizarrely, both Jackie and the program treat this behavior as normal. Jackie still has feelings for Eddie and finds him kind of sweet, and the sheer awfulness of his behavior is never really addressed save for a few throwaway, "Oh, that's so annoying," remarks. Making matters worse is the fact that Eddie has become as dull as he has loathsome, so there's not even a basic entertainment value in these oddly-pitched theatrics.
The rest of the season putters along in that inoffensively agitated Nurse Jackie-ish way, tossing out a sprinkling of medical cases and character subplots. Dr. Fitch Cooper (a very amusing Peter Facinelli, The Big Kahuna) is tapped as the new "face" of the hospital and starts appearing on billboards everywhere. Dr. Eleanor O'Hara (Eve Best, The King's Speech) reveals that she is bisexual, and that she is in a relationship with a well-known news reporter (Julia Ormond, Sabrina). Thor (Stephen Wallem) continues to struggle with diabetes, Zoey (Merritt Wever, Into the Wild) continues to get into quirky situations and a new nurse named Sam (Arjan Gupta, Motherhood) constantly accuses Jackie of being an addict.
The 1080p/1.78:1 transfer is okay, though a good deal less sparkling than many other television releases I've seen. There's actually a good deal of noise present at times; considerable more than one would expect from a largely polished show like this one. However, detail is strong, blacks are deep and colors are vibrant. The audio is uniformly excellent, as Lionsgate offers up a splendid 7.1 lossless mix. Music is clear and robust, dialogue is clean and crisp and the minimal sound design is captured superbly. I will note that I find the series main title a disappointment in every way: the visuals have this weird, fake quality about them and the music is just irritating. Supplements are a bit more generous than on many Showtime releases, with five audio commentaries (featuring Edie Falcon, Eve Best, Peter Facinelli, Linda Wallem, Liz Brixius and Richie Jackson), an interview with Facinelli (11 minutes), an interview with Best (11 minutes), a main title montage (2 minutes) and a gag reel (6 minutes).
The Rebuttal Witnesses
As I did the last time around, I must throw praise in the direction of Edie Falco, who justifies her numerous award nominations with her strong work as the title character. Jackie is never less than believable or compelling; why does the show surrounding her have to be littered with so much rubbish?
Same song, second verse, a little bit duller and a little bit worse.
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