by pat howard

NURSE JACKIE | 1×01: “Pilot”

In Nurse Jackie on June 8, 2009 at 9:00 am

Contains spoilers for the series premiere airing tonight on Showtime. You’ve been warned.

Showtime has made no secret of its desire to become the network of bad girls and boys. In that spirit, Nurse Jackie is a good fit with its summer timeslot companion Weeds, also returning tonight with a new episode. And in much the way it can be captivating to watch Mary-Louise Parker stare at the walls as her series falls down around her, Edie Falco’s got a built-in audience to beat the band. But kind of like how I spent all last year waiting for Weeds to dig itself out of the disastrous hole it’s sunk into, I find myself more excited about Jackie‘s potential than what it presented me in this initial episode.

Perhaps I would’ve been more surprised by some of the “twists” if Showtime had promoted this a little less relentlessly. Nevertheless, the production values are excellent, Falco and her supporting cast turn in solid performances, and the character of Jackie seems quite a bit more grounded in reality than Nancy Botwin. Ironic that the drug addict here is the most together character, whereas Parker’s sober drug dealer has melted into a puddle of helplessness.

I loved Falco in Oz, and while I have yet to watch The Sopranos (I know; I’ll get to it), I have no doubt that she was brilliant there as well. There are certainly plenty of moving parts here, and I’m optimistic about the story possibilities. I’d love for Anna Deavere Smith’s hospital administrator to be a little less wet-moppy in future episodes, but props to any show that can make Peter Facinelli work — his character here seems irritating by design, like Alec Baldwin inĀ  30 Rock. Jackie’s voiceovers are working for me as well, and I’m curious about whether she’ll continue guiding us through her life in subsequent installments. It’s definitely a wait-and-see attitude, but the silver lining is that there’s a lot less on the line for this pilot than Glee; both shows still have to prove themselves, but for opposite reasons.

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