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Nurse Jackie - Pilot episode reviewed

Nurse Jackie

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

NURSE Jackie, the latest import from American cable television, premiered on BBC2 on Monday night and immediately appeared a tasty proposition.

Condemned by a member of the Christian Parents’ Television Council in the US as “a filthy degenerate”, Nurse Jackie – as played by The Sopranos‘ Edie Falco – is a tough, sassy, drug-addicted, cheating mother of two with a heart of gold.

She’s House minus the limp and cold-heart, with a little of the street-wise New Yorker thrown in for good measure.

Her opening half an hour was, however, only moderately successful. While Falco provides an engaging central presence, fellow Sopranos veteran Allen Coulter’s quick direction left you breathless in trying to keep up with her.

Part of that was deliberate, as if to emphasise the hectic day-to-day of Jackie’s life. But it was also in keeping with the stylised approach, which often came at the expense of building proper characters. We only got snapshots.

Hence, her affair with Paul Schulze’s Dr Eddie Walzer was only properly realised during the final five minutes, while she’s still in the early stages of building her relationships with the likes of Haaz Sleiman’s gay Mohammed ‘Mo-Mo’ De La Cruz and Peter Facinelli’s seemingly incompetent Dr Fitch Cooper.

The caustic wit that makes House so cutting, and yet so delightful, isn’t there quite yet, while the humour suggested from the programme’s PR has yet to be fully realised. At present, it’s offbeat and subtle at best – a gaggle of nuns stopping to admire a male patient’s exposed backside being one of several blink-and-you’ll-miss-them sight gags.

But crucially there is potential… and the last five minutes suggested we could be in for another US cable treat (the show is in the running for two Golden Globes and has done well enough States-side to warrant a second season).

The caring side of Nurse Jackie was fully realised as the show finally paused to catch breath during those moments, offering an insight into the depth of feeling that exists between her and Dr Walzer, as well as the set-up of her home life (a surprising denouement that showed her in a less than angelic light).

So, let’s stick with Nurse Jackie and see if she gets better as the omens are certainly good – even if the BBC’s wretched scheduling of yet another American import means that we have to slavishly tune in at 10pm every night of the week!