Featured TV on DVD Review: Nurse Jackie: Season Four
February 9th, 2013
I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Nurse Jackie. On the one hand, there's a lot to love about the show, including the central performance by Edie Falco. On the other hand, the central character is flawed in such a way that it becomes frustrating to watch her in action. I think having a main character with flaws improves the show. However, if a character makes the same mistakes and never learns, it makes the show repetitive. The first three seasons of the show danced close to the line, and occasionally stepped over, but overall I enjoyed watching it. Which direction does it go in season four?
By the end of season three, Nurse Jackie's life took a hit, several of them. Her addiction to painkillers didn't get any better. Her marriage with Kevin is on the rocks, so is her affair with Eddie. Grace has always had anxiety issues, but they've gotten bad enough that she's been put on medication. Fiona has become a bit of a fire bug. She's got a lot of secrets, but in the end, it's Kevin that comes clean. He had an affair.
The season begins a couple months later and... Jackie realizes she's messed up so badly that she needs help. She's going to rehab. Halleluiah. The biggest complaint I had about this show was her inability to recognize her mistakes and this season she starts off by trying to fix some of her mistakes. She does have to hit rock bottom first, but I'm not going to say how, because that's a spoiler. It does involve what could be the final rift between her and Dr. Eleanor O'Hara, at least until Jackie gets serious about getting off the drugs. (On a side note, Gloria Akalitus, Jackie's boss, it amazingly supportive when Jackie asks to go to rehab.)
While at rehab, Jackie finds support from Laura (Laura Silverman), the head of rehab, and meets Charlie (Jake Cannavale), a teenage addict. The pair form a bond, even after they both get out of rehab. There are a lot of other personal stories being told this season. For instance, Grace is growing up way too fast for Jackie to handle and the pair butt heads a lot. At the beginning of the season, Eleanor is pregnant, which is a bonding moment for her and Jackie. And later with her and Gloria, and the pair need a boost in morale. There's a new administrator in town, Dr. Mike Cruz, who was brought in by Quantum Bay, the company that bought the hospital. He's there to make the place more efficient, and by that I mean profitable. He even demotes Gloria to being a floor nurse, hence the need for morale boosts. Speaking of Eleanor's baby, Dr. Cooper wants to be the baby's father figure, even though he's not the father. It's a very funny storyline.
There are more storylines in the season, including Zoey getting a new roommate and more. We also learn more about Charlie. And the Jackie / Kevin fallout continues. All of these subjects go into the spoiler territory. One final note, Rosie Perez has a fun guest appearance.
It looks like season two of Nurse Jackie was just a minor aberration. Season four showed real growth in the characters while maintaining the excellent balance between the drama and the humor. I would call it the best season so far.
Extras on the first disc include audio commentary tracks on two episodes and 6 minutes of outtakes. Disc two has another audio commentary track. There is also a 13-minute featurette on the three of the supporting characters: Lenny, Sam, and Thor. And finally, there's an 11-minute featurette on Mike Cruz.
This is the first time I've gotten a chance to review the series in high definition and I'm quite happy with the technical presentation. It's not the most visually impressive Blu-ray I've seen, not even if you limit the comparisons to just to TV on DVD releases. It's got good details, strong colors, deep blacks, while there are no compression artifacts or significant flaws. But it also doesn't have a lot of wow factor. The audio comes in a 7.1 audio track. Granted, there isn't a ton of activity in the surround sound speakers, but there's enough.
Finally we come to the price. The DVD and the Blu-ray cost the same on Amazon.com. This makes sense, as there are three discs for the DVD and only two for the Blu-ray and that likely saves a bit of money.
I would argue that season four or Nurse Jackie is the best season so far and the DVD and the Blu-ray have enough extras to lift them to the solid purchase level, with the latter being the better deal.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Filed under: Video Review