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Nurse Jackie Episode 1: Pilot

Thanks to an early preview on DirecTV’s 101 Network, I was able to watch the series premiere of Showtime’s latest half hour dramedy this weekend. Nurse Jackie stars Edie Falco as the title character, an emergency room nurse in a Catholic hospital in New York City.

 

If you don’t want the spoilers, but would like to know what I think of the show, skip to the last paragraph and you’ll be okay.

 

The episode opens with a bright white light and the sounds of a crazy ER, then fades into mellow elevator music as Falco begins a voiceover. The brightness fades as we see Jackie laying flat on the floor, just as the disembodied voice explains our heroine has a bad back. This leads us straight into the first reveal of her painkiller addiction, as she counts out 16 (always 16 she says) grains of Vicodin and snorts them cocaine-style through a straw. Why not pop pills like Dr. House? My younger brother tells me snorting the drug gets it into the bloodstream faster, thus a more immediate benefit.

 

Freshly medicated, Jackie heads to work to find a bruised and broken bike messenger waiting for attention. She examines him along with Dr. Cooper (Peter Facinelli) who ignores her advice to get a CT to rule out a brain bleed. Despite his recent fame as a Twilight cast member, Facinelli excels at playing cocky douchebags, and Cooper seems to be right up his alley. I won’t spoil the great exchange between the doctor and Jackie when she confronts him in the locker room, but the scene definitely shows us what the interaction between these two will be like.

 

Continuing with our introduction to the cast, Jackie’s peer Mo Mo (Haaz Sleiman), a gay male nurse, enters a scene just long enough to show us that Jackie isn’t the only sassy nurse on staff. He also takes the opportunity to dump Zoey (Merritt Wever), a student nurse, in Jackie’s lap, saying he got stuck with the previous three students. Zoey is an obvious contrast to Jackie, both in experience and attitude. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Jackie to break her down. Zoey’s intro is cut short by the appearance of Mrs. Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith) who is apparently some kind of administrator, a la Lisa Cuddy. Jackie quickly blows her off and exits. This allows us to meet Eddie (Paul Schulze), the hospital pharmacist that Jackie is having sex with, which isn’t making her back any better. Although that’s nothing a second bump of Vicodin won’t fix.

 

Jackie and Zoey then find themselves attending to a badly cut-up hooker while the paramedics inform them that she was able to get her attacker’s knife and cut his ear off before he got away. Zoey promptly gets sick at the sight of the ear, and Jackie is ready for a break. Jackie goes to dinner with her friend Dr. O’Hara (Eve Best) and a very funny exchange takes place in the upscale restaurant where they are dining. After dinner, Jackie returns to treat a young stoner with third degree burns from shooting a Roman Candle out of his ass. After the exam, Jackie does bump number three before getting back to work.

 

The hooker’s assailant arrives for treatment and Jackie find out he won’t be charged because he is a diplomat and has immunity. Once she confirms what a giant asshole the guy is, Jackie takes the law into her own hands a dispenses a little frontier justice. I found myself wondering if this was something Jackie would have done if she hadn’t been flying on all that Vicodin.

 

At the end of a long day, Jackie heads home, but not before Eddie hooks her up with some more Vicodin and she turns down his offer of spending the evening together. I’m not going to spoil the big reveal at the end of the episode, but it certainly confirms that Jackie is not the saint that Zoey think she is.

 

I realize I made more than one comparison to House in my analysis of the Nurse Jackie’s premiere, and that wasn’t an accident. There are some vary obvious parallels between the two shows–both feature a deeply flawed protagonist who make up for their lack of social skills and nasty demeanor by being damn good at their job. Then there is the painkiller addiction. Jackie’s method of consumption is certainly edgier than House’s, but the result is the same, they both go through life in a medicated state that no one really understands the full effects of. I think the key difference between the two is that Jackie does understand she is not a role model, where House often holds himself up as the best example of someone in his profession. That difference is captured best in the prayer Jackie offers during the closing moments of the premiere, “Make me good God, but not yet.” That is the difference that will bring me back next week for episode two.

 

Nurse Jackie airs at 10:30/9:30c starting Monday, June 8th.

 

And yes, people actually stick Roman Candles in their asses.

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June 7, 2009 - Posted by | Comedy, Drama, New Series, Premiere, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. I think this show is the best!!! I loved every moment of it. Is Falco the best?!?!

    http://francislewis.wordpress.com/2009/06/09/nurse-jackie/

    Comment by Francislewis | June 10, 2009


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