Showtime has been reeling in the hit shows as of late, with very few (if any) not hitting the mark or scoring cross the board. One of their latest installments, Nurse Jackie, debuts Edie Falco of The Sopranos fame as the title character in yet another hospital dramedy and predictably the show was yet another hit for the network. While it drew some criticism from those in the medical profession FOR Jackie’s behavior in the show, it nonetheless blasted its way through twelve unique episodes that viewers found to be nothing short of addicting. With the second season set to premiere in March, Lionsgate releases Nurse Jackie on DVD and Blu-ray just in time for newcomers to check out the first season before another one begins.
Television’s most critically-acclaimed new series “Nurse Jackie” comes to DVD and Blu-ray Disc February 23, 2010 from Lionsgate. Three-time Primetime Emmy winner Edie Falco (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, “The Sopranos,” 1999, 2001 and 2003,) “is outstanding” (Time Magazine) as Jackie Peyton, a flawed emergency room nurse in New York City, who is struggling to find a balance between the demands of her frenetic job and an array of personal dramas. For Jackie, every day is a high wire act of juggling patients, doctors, fellow nurses and her own indiscretions. “Nurse Jackie” was Showtime’s most-successful premiere to date and the groundbreaking series has garnered enormous critical acclaim. TV Guide proclaimed the show “wildly entertaining,” Entertainment Weekly hailed “you just want to keep watching,” NY Daily News exclaimed “a splendid addition to Showtime’s lineup” and The Washington Post called it “one of the true choice cuts of the year.”
Like many viewers I was reluctant to add another show to my tab of seasonal viewing. I think I’m past the twenty-mark now in terms of how many shows I attempt to keep up with in any given year, so at this point I guess there’s no real harm in adding another one to the mix. This is good, because it was clear after the first episode that I’d be sitting through the rest of the season without any qualms as the characters, while not immediately likeable, are just engaging enough that you keep coming back for more. It’s akin to House in that once they step out of the hospital, the story and action gets to be a bit dull, but when they’re within the vicinities or in the hospital itself, the show is really just quite fantastic.
Of course, like House, you have to suspend your disbelief at first. Nurse Jackie tends to break a myriad of rules never seem to cause as much trouble for her as you’d expect. Things to get into a hazy spiral at the end of the season, but her signature forging, extramarital affair and drug addiction ways really only come into play directly with the other characters storylines only a few times. This is fine, as it keeps her characters “shtick” from getting old, but it’s still definitely an engaging show nonetheless. I wonder how long they can keep that drug addiction element going though; not so much because of how the season ended, but just how long it will take before it becomes old-hat (as, to draw another comparison to House, it did in…well, House).
As great as the character of Jackie (and the rest of the cast as well; it’s always nice to see Paul Schulze again…although considering he played one of Falco’s semi-love interests on Sopranos too, it’s kind of odd to see that pairing again here) is, she isn’t the only focus of the show. Plenty of side-stories and additional characters get worked into the mix, but on top of all of that is an overwhelming layer of drama. Not that you wouldn’t expect it from this show, but it is just…really layered on thick at times, almost to the point of soap opera levels. It backs off from that though and the sporadic bits of infused comedy into the story lines helps keep the show from being a total downer, but the show definitely wouldn’t be too afflicted by having a few more moments of levity. It’s serious subject matter, sure…but it was almost too much at times.
In the end Nurse Jackie is without a doubt another great Showtime production. As it stands I think I’m watching just about every show on the network (and the ones I’m not, I probably should be), so I wasn’t all that put-off by watching another one of its productions. True, the content matter is a bit more serious and dark than I’m used to, but overall it’s a Highly Recommended show. As indifferent as I felt about the occasional plotlines or characters, I barreled through the entire first season in under two days, so it’s obvious the show definitely has a hook to reel you in from the start.
Lionsgate releases Nurse Jackie’s first season on Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray two-disc case. Inside are the usual inserts and whatnot and, as usual, Lionsgate’s presentation of the series is impeccable. Nothing about this set looks off, and the cover…man, how can you not love that cover? I’m kind of surprised they got away with it; not only because of the “little pricks” tagline, but also because of the placement of that needled. It’s not subtle in the least, which is part of why I love it so much.
The series arrives with a freshly minted AVC encoded transfer, but despite this show being barely a year old (if that in some cases) it just…doesn’t look all that great. Good? Sure, it looks good. But the texture details just aren’t there in most instances. Nothing ever really comes alive or pops off the screen…it’s all just very flat. It’s not horrible or anything, and it certainly isn’t really a case of DNR since there’s still a rampant amount of grain on the picture at times, but in the end it just doesn’t really “wow” you as much as other Blu-ray’s in the past have. The audio, a DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix, is the same way. I love that Lionsgate pumps out 7.1 on everything they distribute on Blu-ray, but it’s very superfluous on this show. Rarely does the surround channels or LFE get used (and that only happens when a piece of music is included in the show), but it’s not a real huge issue as the front channel dialogue is always crystal clear anyway.
• “Prepping Nurse Jackie” featurette (10:55, 1080i) – a behind-the-scenes look at the show’s creation including interviews and clips examining the series’ controversial themes
• “All About Edie” featurette (5:26, 1080i) – interviews focusing on Edie Falco and what she brings to “Nurse Jackie”
• “Unsung Heroes” featurette (5:32, 1080i) – examines the nursing profession and compares what makes “Nurse Jackie” a very different show from other medical dramas
• “Nurse Stories” (6:58, 480p) – real stories from nurses as seen on Showtime’s website
• Audio commentary with Edie Falco, Creator/Producers Liz Brixius and Linda Wallam and Producer Richie Jackson – on episodes “Pilot,” “Tiny Bubbles,” “Ring Finger,” and “Health Care & Cinema”)
The extras included here are pretty much EPK filler at times, although the four commentaries are definitely worth a listen since you not only get the star of the show involved but also the major creator/producers as well. They’re very informative listens as we get to hear from both sides of the aisle, but as far as the rest of the extras go…they’re pretty forgettable.
Overall despite being a great first season, this Blu-ray can only be recommended as a Rental. The Blu-ray presentation is only just so-so and the extras are nothing you’ll revisit again. In fact, I doubt you’ll get much re-play out of this series either, as it’s pretty much a watch-once and you’re done type thing. Some may want to go back for more and in that case it’s a Recommended set (especially since it’s so cheap—just $20 online as of this writing), but just the casually interested will do well enough with a Netflix drop.
Nurse Jackie – Season 1 is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.