Nurse Jackie is the best new series in a long, long time. There were movie house previews across America on Wednesday evening, June 3, including free popcorn and soda to anyone showing up at the theater. It was a brilliant piece of marketing in a boring time which, hopefully, will result in more programs following suit.
The TV episodes translated perfectly to the big screen garnering well-deserved applause from the audience as the quick paced action, humor that comes out of nowhere and innovative camera angles worked alongside the genuine, compelling acting. Edie Falco in the title role is brilliant and her supporting cast, Peter Facinelli as Dr. Fitch Cooper, Paul Schulze as her secret boyfriend/hospital pharmacist Eddie, Dominic Fumusa (ex of As The World Turns and a few Law & Order SVU episodes) as Jackie’s husband, Kevin Peyton – everyone gets a chance to steal a scene, which works to the dark comedy’s advantage.
A June 2008 article in The New Yorker said that the producers wanted to get Falco as far away from Carmela Soprano as possible but, c’mon, short hair or no you still feel like this is Carmela after a divorce from Tony cavorting with men who are less threatening and more fun. Executive producer John Melfi may have been involved with Sex & The City, but his namesake, psychiatrist “Dr. Melfi”, was the apple of Tony Soprano’s eye, and there is no getting away from a powerful series like The Sopranos, though the shadow it casts can only help the promotion of this new vehicle.
The intentional paradox is that Nurse Jackie Peyton (a play on Peyton Place, perhaps? – the 60s show that caused such a stir) walks the path between good and evil, and does it with relish. She cares about people, she has compassion, and she just loves to get high. Forget the sex and the salty language, there’s plenty of it and it is all essential to the tapestry here, but it is the abuse of narcotics that is so in your face that demands this get an R rating, something to keep the kids away from.
Drug abuse is glorified here, the anti-Christ boss (Anna Deveare Smith as Mrs. Gloria Akalitus, perhaps the best name since the late, great Nancy Parsons played Ms. Beaulah Balbricker in the Porky’s series) becoming completely charming stoned (and getting a huge rise out of the theater audience in episode 2).
Dionne Warwick’s voice singing “The Valley Of The Dolls” is transcendant, the perfect song about the “cheat” that is substance abuse…and remember, Barbara Parkins starred in both Peyton Place and The Valley Of The Dolls, so it goes beyond coincidence that the scriptwriters decided on the name “Jackie Peyton” for Edie Falco, the star of the biggest show of 1999 to the 2000’s, The Sopranos. And you know what? If TV wants to go back to the original drawing board (as I suggest Conan O’Brien do with late night television earlier in the week here on TMR Zoo), great. Give the people what they want. A bit of E.R., a bit of Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out The Dead, some new faces that aren’t too familiar to TV audiences, some friends from the past, all a prescription for a show that is going to develop a big, big following in no time.