kingoftv.net

thoughts on pop culture

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.

Advertisements

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Comedy, Drama, New Series, Premiere, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

House Season 5 Episode 24: Both Sides Now

I am a colossal fool.

I actually bought into last week’s episode and the House-Cuddy hookup that wrapped it up. I can’t believe I didn’t even see this coming.

I’ve said it about a million times–we know that the patients on House always parallel what’s going on outside the exam room. Tonight the patient had ‘alien hand syndrome’ as a result of a procedure to split his brain in two. Oddly, I wasn’t even tipped off to the outcome of the episode when Thirteen made a totally obvious comment about the question of identity raised by their patient. My suspended disbelief even stayed intact as the episode got more and more ridiculous–with House announcing his Cuddy hookup to the entire staff after being encouraged by Wilson to be a bigger asshole than normal! Ultimately, the big reveal showed us that House quitting vicodin cold turkey was just a bunch of shit and that everything since his conversation with Cuddy last week was just a vision.

Despite my disappointment with the reveal, I enjoyed a couple parts of the episode immensely. House treating Cuddy’s potential feelings like an illness to be diagnosed was both funny and true to his character, although ultimately this led to the climax and my disappointment. Better still was the appearance of Carl Reiner as clinic patient Eugene Schwartz. At first I thought this was just an excuse for Reiner to cut up and give House/Cuddy something to fight about. I wasn’t prepared for the heartbreaking revelation that Eugene really had pancreatic cancer all along.

The good lines were spread around tonight:

  • House – “It’s like locking the barn door after the horse got out and it’s had its face between your breasts for an hour and a half.”
  • Wilson, responding to House’s update about getting busy with Cuddy – “Wow. You were sober AND SHE was sober?”
  • Thirteen to Taub about Chase/Cameron – “It’s always a sad thing when sperm comes between people.”
  • House – “Great advice, you pretend I’m gonna do that.”
  • Cuddy to House about his announcement to the staff – “What you did is beyond asshood!”

Another thing sticks with me about this episode. When House retrieved Wilson to assist with the patient in the MRI lab, he told Wilson he needed his special skills. Wilson came and talked the patient in a way that kept him preoccupied while the team could look for the underlying problem. I was left with the impression that even House realizes that Wilson has a talent for interacting with people who have mental problems.

The following are the three notes I wrote, in the order I wrote them, during the big climax scene in Cuddy’s office.

  1. What is going on with House?
  2. Is this whole thing a hallucination?
  3. Are you fucking kidding me?

As I watched the closing montage, I found myself unfulfilled by the Chase/Cameron wedding, even though I wanted them to be together. More importantly, I was shocked to see House actually allowing himself to be taken to rehab. At least I thought it was rehab until I saw the sign over the door that said Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. Was House actually committing himself? I guess we’ll find out for sure in a few months, but he made it pretty clear last week that vicodin-induced hallucinations would be easier to overcome than being a wacko–at least from a career perspective. This makes me think it really is rehab, and that it just happens to be a very serious program that actually takes place at a mental institution.

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Science, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

House Season 5 Episode 23: Under My Skin

You sure can tell that we are approaching the end of the season–they just don’t make episodes this good in November. Cue the spoiler-rific analysis…

The patient story was okay tonight, but as it is with the best episodes of House, the patient story isn’t really that important anyway. I will say that I looked up Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis and a highly recommend that you avoid Google Images on this one. For your sake, my link is to a Wikipedia article that contains no pictures. It does however confirm exactly what the episode told us, that this is a 1 in 1 million reaction to medication. It was interesting to see the team finish the case without House present, and it’s also funny to see Chase reinserting himself into the team. My only other comment on the patient is that no, her boyfriend was not Jonathan Brandis from seaQuest DSV.

As entertaining as it always is to watch House attempt to diagnose a patient, it’s always better when he is trying to diagnose himself. That’s exactly what made the season four finale great, and tonight was much the same. While it was obvious that we were leading to up to House confronting his Vicodin addiction, we still got some great television along the way including House actually apologizing to a patient for his methods. And even though he’s experimented on himself before, I really enjoyed House putting himself into insulin shock.  In fact, it really made me think about what a great Dr. Jekyll/Hyde we would get if Hugh Laurie was ever so inclined.

Ultimately, House faced his addiction head on, although not in the way I expected. When he walked into Cuddy’s office and announced that he was quitting, I thought he was doing it so he could secretly go to rehab. I didn’t expect him to make himself vulnerable by giving up control and putting it in Cuddy’s hands. We’ve seen House go through withdrawal before, so what we got next wasn’t entirely new territory. What was new was the exposure to House’s subconscious we got thanks to Imaginary Amber. On a quick side note, I’m somewhat disappointed that, while we see a very shitty-looking House in withdrawal, my research says there is just no way someone taking that much Vicodin could be through the worst in one night. 

After a long night, House awakens to find that the only annoying sound in the room is Cuddy’s breathing, and Amber is gone. This leads us to Cuddy’s departure, and the moment we’ve been waiting for since episode six this season. After episode six, I said I was glad that House and Cuddy didn’t jump in the sack right away and now I know why. This was a much better story to drive these two together. Cuddy loves taking care of House, and she is the only person with whom he is willing to show his true self. I know they won’t be happy-ever-after, but I believe they really do belong together at the end, whenever that comes.

House’s lines of the night:

  • Foreman wants to know why House was talking to the patient–“I think skinless women are hot.”
  • Wilson thinks that the vision of Amber means something–“Yeah, the irrational part of my brain picked the rational part of yours.”
  • Telling Wilson not to use the “cancer voice” with him.
  • What’s worse than death? “Double death?”
  • And for the romantic in me–Cuddy: “You want to kiss me don’t you?” House: “I always want to kiss you.”

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Science, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on House Season 5 Episode 23: Under My Skin