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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), Nurse Jackie: Season Two (Blu-ray) (published February 21st, 2011), and Nurse Jackie: Season Three (Blu-ray) (published March 27th, 2012) are also available.
What the hell had I gotten myself into? Admittedly, I'd joined the party quite late. Until I was assigned to review Nurse Jackie: Season Five, I hadn't seen so much as a frame of it, and frankly, I didn't plan to.
Has any current hit cable series received so many mixed reviews? On one hand, star Edie Falco (The Sopranos) won a first season Emmy—and has been piling up further nominations ever since—for her work in the title role, as a raging junkie/super nurse hybrid. That's not surprising, given Falco's tremendous talent and considering the special attraction addicted characters seem to hold for award-voting bodies.
On the other hand, I've heard that the series surrounding her careens wildly from heavy drama to snarky situation comedy, and that it is populated by generic, one-note supporting characters. There's certainly some truth to that—Dr. Fitch Cooper, for example: Though extremely well-played by Peter Facinelli (Freezer), the once and former ER "golden boy" struggles unsuccessfully to prove that he's more doctor than doofus. Likewise, new chief of staff Dr. Ike Prentiss (Morris Chestnut, The Best Man Holiday) is a humorless former field medic, hardened by his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Period. First year ER resident Dr. Carrie Roman (Betty Gilpin, Ghost Town) looks like Sandra Bullock's blond younger sister, and is more than willing to kiss ass, flirt, and swap sexual favors in order to get ahead without having to do any actual medical work. To be fair, these newbies aren't given a lot of time to develop (the entire season consists of ten half-hour episodes), and the actors do wonderful things within their narrow confines.
I could probably do without all the horrific emergencies trooping in and out to punctuate the personal drama—the pregnant woman, for instance, who staggers in, bleeding from a fresh gunshot wound that will have to wait because her baby's crowning at the moment. It's not that I'm offended by the gore, or even that the writers haven't come up with some inventive life-or-death scenarios, but after recently reviewing Mob Doctor, Grey's Anatomy, and three different versions of CSI, all this carnage is beginning to blur together and I'm becoming blase—which really scares me!
Besides, things are really hopping for Jackie on a personal level: she's trying to finalize her divorce from Kevin (Dominic Fumusa, Helena From The Wedding), who's fighting for primary custody of their daughters. Speaking of, fourteen-year-old Grace (Ruby Jerins, Remember Me) has begun acting out in disturbingly self-destructive ways. From what I understand, Jackie's family started out as one of the show's most nondescript and uninteresting entities, but the events of season five have given Fumusa and Jerins some red meat to sink their teeth into.
Despite these and other gargantuan struggles, Jackie's within spitting distance of her first sober year, and damned if she hasn't found love with a tough-but-sweet divorced cop named Frank Verelli (Adam Ferrara, Rescue Me. Too good to be true? We'll see.
For me, however, true love came in the form of Nurse Zoey Barkow: Jackie's protegee, guardian angel, and perpetual pain-in-the-neck. Though on first glance Zoey seemed no more than a homely-cute and slightly pudgy sitcom appendage, by the end of episode one I was thunderstruck—I'd never experienced a character quite like her! Alternately annoying and adorable to those around her, Nurse Barkow is nearly indescribable; a vivacious alien life form with perfect comic timing, the eyes of an angel and the sexiest braided hair on television. No wonder actress Merritt Wever (New Girl) scored an Emmy for the season!
And of course, there's Falco, who (if I'm being honest) was the main reason I avoided this show in the first place. It's not that I didn't appreciate her work as Carmella Soprano. On the contrary—I didn't believe that after being given such a rich and multi-layered part to play—and turning in such a powerhouse performance—that Falco had anywhere to go but downhill from there. Ten episodes of Nurse Jackie later, I'm here to testify that I'll never make that foolish mistake again. I can't add to what everyone else has been saying: Falco never as much as hints at a false note, never mind hitting one, and even if the series never rises to her level, her amazing work in it makes such distinctions meaningless.
Lionsgate does a fine job, delivering Nurse Jackie: Season Five (Blu-ray) in a slim and sleek two-disc package. The 1:78:1/1080p hi-def image isn't revolutionary, but itâ€™s clear, clean and gets the job done. Same goes for the 7.1 master audio sound, even if this seems a bit excessive for a dialogue-driven series that occasionally lapses into musical montage. Extras are once again in the manner of audio commentaries on selected episodes (including some by Falco), and a couple of standard-issue featurettes: "A Sober Jackie," featuring executive producers Clyde Phillips and Tom Straw in a bragging mood, and "New To The Floor," an interesting spotlight on the newbie characters and the actors playing them. You want a gag reel? You want deleted scenes? They're here; come and get 'em.
After reviewing the first three seasons and waiting in vain for Nurse Jackie to fulfill its potential, my Verdict colleague Judge Clark Douglas apparently gave up. I'd like to advise Clark that he surrendered too soon and invite him over for a fifth season screening to prove it. If he's still not convinced after that, I'll drive him to the hospital myself.
Fit as a fiddle!
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