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Featured TV on DVD Review: Nurse Jackie: Season Three

February 18th, 2012

Nurse Jackie: Season Three - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Nurse Jackie started out really well, but the second season was much weaker. In the first season, I really liked Edie Falco's character, which was flawed but compelling. In the second season, her flaws took over and the plot was driven by her mistakes, while she seems to never learn from these mistakes. Will the show correct itself in season three? Or will it continue to slide?

Recapping the first two seasons... Edie Falco plays the titular Nurse Jackie, a.k.a., Jackie Peyton. Jackie has two lives. In the first one she's married to Kevin and has two kids, Grace and Fiona. She works at All Saints Hospital. However, for the most part, the people at All Saints think she is single. The only one who knows she's married is Dr. Eleanor O'Hara, her best friend. No one else at work knows she's married, including Eddie Walzer, the hospital's pharmacist, whom she's having an affair with. Also, Eddie supplies Jackie with a lot of drugs. At least this was true at the beginning of the series. Partway through the first season, Eddie found out Jackie was married and his reaction was not great. It's understandable he would be upset, but he goes a little far.

By the end of season two, Kevin and Eleanor have an intervention for Jackie, which does at least give hope that there will be some progress on that front. It doesn't happen right away. In fact, Jackie just lies a lot and alienates both Kevin and Eleanor. At this point I'm thinking maybe she's learning. In the second episode, she treats a woman who cut herself and goes off on her kids, which is understandable, given how much pain she must have been in at the time. When Jackie talks to her later, the patient mentions how all of her friends are on medications and maybe she should be to, so she wouldn't yell at her kids like that. But as she says, she's not that kind of mom. Jackie has what appears to be an epiphany moment. I figured she'd maybe learn she needs to change. Nope. She uses that line on her husband to convince him she's not addicted to painkillers.

Why won't she learn?

That part of Nurse Jackie is still frustrating, but not infuriating like Weeds is. Nancy Botwin as a character no longer has any redeeming characteristics. Jackie Peyton has many flaws, but you still see her do good things and even some of the bad things she does (the lying, the manipulation) are for a good end. For instance, she will bend the rules to help a patient. Additionally, the side plots take up a lot more of this show and the supporting cast are a huge asset to the show. Merritt Wever plays Zoey Barkow, a nurse who wants Jackie to be her mentor and their relationship is quite a lot of fun. Also, Zoey gets a boyfriend this season. Jaimie Alexander has an extended guest appearance as Tunie, Kevin's younger sister. The introduction of her character is priceless, so I won't spoil it here.

This season of Nurse Jackie did a lot better job balancing the humor and the drama and Edie Falco was able to make Jackie seem less self-destructive than in season two. It can slip over-the-line, but for the most part it is still an excellent show.

Extras on the first disc include audio commentary tracks on two episodes and a 14-minute interview with Anna Deavere Smith, who plays Gloria Akalitus, the administrator. Disc two has another audio commentary track and a 12-minute interview with Dominic Fumusa and Paul Schulze. The final disc has two more audio commentary tracks and 8 minutes of outtakes.

I don't have the Blu-ray to compare audio and video quality. The MSRP are the same for both formats, but on the discount for the DVD is much higher than the Blu-ray. I don't think it will be as extreme all the time, so keep an eye on the price before purchasing.

The Verdict

The third season of Nurse Jackie is an improvement over the second season and there are more than enough extras on the show that it is worth picking up. If the prices of the DVD and the Blu-ray were the same, as their list prices are, then the latter would obviously be the better deal. Even if they were within $5 of each other, the Blu-ray would likely be the better deal.

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