Tonight Is “Nurse Jackie” Night

Tonight is the premiere (on TMN in Canada, Showtime in the U.S.) of the Edie Falco vehicle Nurse Jackie, which looks to be one of the more interesting new shows of the summer.

I’m not quite as taken by it as most others have been. Falco is absolutely wonderful, an absolutely real and plausible person in every scene, no matter whether she’s popping pills, dealing with her family life, or going through the various ER true-life stories that the show compiles. A lot of actors in edgy-type cable series, even good actors, play their parts a little cartoonish and show-offy; she does not. And she looks great even though (or maybe because), according to co-creator Liz-Brixius, she has “no time in makeup, no false nails, no wigs.” But the show does seem to spend a lot of time having this character react almost passively to weird stuff that happens. This does get better after the pilot episode, which is basically one scene after another of Jackie reacting to various tales of hospital horror, occasionally taking time out for drugs. But it still feels a bit like a series of vignettes about the things that can go wrong when you’re a nurse, like a medical Up the Down Staircase with more drugs and fewer interesting supporting characters.

However, the show’s problems are easily-enough fixed (and might fix themselves as the continuing storylines gather steam), and any show that can write Falco’s character so well can certainly get around to writing the other characters better. And if they don’t, it’ll still be worth watching just for Falco.

Also, I’m happy to see from the interview that Brixius wants the show to be a modern-day M*A*S*H, because that’s exactly the comparison that popped into my mind when I first saw it.

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