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Featured TV on DVD Review: Nurse Jackie: Season Two

February 21st, 2011

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

I reviewed season one of Nurse Jackie last year and thought it was one of the best shows on Showtime. Now that the Edie Falco vehicle is in its second year, will it be able to maintain that quality, or will it suffer from a sophomore slump.

The Show

First a very short recap... Edie Falco stars as Nurse Jackie, whose life is completely messed up. She's married with a couple kids. She works as a nurse at the All Saints Hospital. She has a raging drug addiction. She's sleeping with the pharmacist. Most people she works with don't even know she's married. By the end of the first season, Eddie Walzer, the pharmacist she's having an affair with, finds out she's married. He also finds out he's being fired and replaced by a machine, which could cut off Jackie's drug supply. I think she's more worried about the latter, but he's more concerned about the former. In fact, this year he starts stalking Jackie. (Actually, the season starts out worse for him, but we won't get into the specifics.)

Unfortunately, that story line doesn't work as well this year as it did last year. I don't know if the writers thought him becoming a stalker would be funny or compelling, but it was neither. Instead it bounced between creepy and pathetic. It also sucks up a lot of the year, so its failure to work kills a lot of the momentum the seasons would otherwise have. Dr. Fitch Cooper's infatuation with Jackie is also a little off-putting this time around, while the character has lost a lot of his charm.

On the other hand, Eve Best and Merritt Wever are just as strong this year, while if anything Ruby Jerins got better. (The story of Grace's increasing neurotic behavior is the most touching story we get to in season two.)

Edie Falco is still a fabulous actress, but I think I'm burned out on self-destructive people. Too much of the drama in this show is Nurse Jackie dealing with a problem caused by Nurse Jackie. Having a flawed hero is great, as long as their flaws complicate their quest to overcome adversity and are not the main source of their adversity. Here it seems likes she's dealing with one self-inflicted injury after another. When the main character becomes one of the least sympathetic characters in the show, you have problems. And that's exactly what has happened here.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD include audio commentary tracks on five of the twelve episodes, which is a slight improvement over the first season. Disc one also has an 11-minute interview with Eve Best, who talks about how she got her start in acting, how she got this job and her hatred of high-heel shoes. There is also a short montage of opening credit images. Disc two has an interview with Peter Facinelli, which is just as interesting as the interview on the first disc. Finally on disc three there's six minutes of outtakes, a lot of which are actors mugging for the camera.

I don't have the Blu-ray, but it's the same price as the DVD, so unless they screwed something up, it's obviously the better deal.

The Verdict

Nurse Jackie either went through a sophomore slump in Season Two, or I'm getting burned out on this type of show. Shows with a flawed hero, where the flaws are what drive the plot . That said, it is still a well-crafted show and for fans the DVD or the Blu-ray are worth picking up, as there are plenty of extras, while the latter is the much better deal.

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