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3.5 stars
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Overall Grade
3.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
3 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3.5 Stars
Supplements
2.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Rent It

Nurse Jackie: Season One

Street Date:
February 23rd, 2010
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
July 8th, 2010
Movie Release Year:
2009
Studio:
Lionsgate
Length:
333 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Unrated
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Hospital shows are like cop shows on TV, you can't flip through the channels without seeing about three of each. When a new medical show comes along the question is how is it going to distance itself from the glut of medical shows already on? The answer, for 'Nurse Jackie,' is Edie Falco. After wonderfully portraying Tony Soprano's wife in 'The Sopranos,' Edie Falco has found a new role where her hard-nosed attitude can shine through.

Jackie is an exceptional nurse at All Saints hospital in New York. She runs a tight ship, bosses doctors around, and essentially runs the hospital. Problem is, she's not the saint she makes herself out to be. Right away we find out that Jackie is addicted to any kind of pain medicine that comes in pill form. Chewing them or crushing them up so she can snort them are her chosen methods of getting the drugs into her system. She's also got a boyfriend at the hospital who just so happens to be the resident pharmacist. Sure doesn't help her drug habit.

Jackie is a flawed character who is hard to root for, yet she remains one of the most dynamic characters on TV. 'Nurse Jackie' follows Jackie around her life as it's falling apart because of her choices; all the while she's trying to be the best nurse possible. Her conscience is soothed when she does good things for people. When she cuts through the bureaucratic nonsense of hospitals and insurance forms for patients she feels good about herself.

The supporting cast and their performances are just as mesmerizing. Dr. O'Hara (Eve Best) is the hospital's best doctor and Jackie's closest friend. Jackie's new trainee, Zoey (Merrit Wever, 'Righteous Kill') is a hilarious young nurse who wears cute scrubs plastered with puppies and hearts. Zoey is one of the most endearing characters on the show, and the one that develops the biggest character arc throughout the season. Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith, 'The Kingdom' ) is the sulking bureaucrat whose job it is to keep everyone in line. Talk about character development, Akalitus goes from one of the most hateful characters to one of the most beloved during the course of the season.

I didn't know what to think of 'Nurse Jackie' when I first heard about it premiering on Showtime. Another ER show. I had some hope, because it was coming from Showtime who have provided us with some top-notch quality viewing the past few years, but still I was surprised when I liked 'Nurse Jackie' so much that it now resides in my top five favorite shows currently running.

'Nurse Jackie' is full of colorful characters and employs a cleverly written script, which continues to surprise as the show moves along. One thing that stood out while watching 'Nurse Jackie' is the way the show makes us think about what is going on. Scenes are routinely cut short, or transition at odd moments, making us mull over what just happened and what it means for that certain character. 'Nurse Jackie' just has a different feel to it. Its closest cousin would probably be 'Weeds.'

With all the quality programming that Showtime is putting out, it's getting to the point where you can just leave your TV on the station without needing to change it.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Nurse Jackie's 1080p transfer truly is a mixed bag.

The pilot episode suffers from extreme background flickering that almost resembles a strobe light going off. Grain, in the pilot episode especially, is very heavy wiping away much of the fine detail. As the show moves along through the season it looks a lot better though. The flickering in the background becomes minimal (perhaps the cameramen get the frame rate and lighting in sync), but is still a regular occurrence throughout the season. The entire presentation lacks that HD pop we're looking for, but it does add to the gritty realism of the show. Colors are well done, but not overly amazing. Blacks are flat and oft times hazy. Frequent DNR is noticeable throughout each episode.

I am currently watching the second season in HD on Showtime. The video presentation looks to have improved, so here's looking forward to season 2's Blu-ray. Hopefully the image will be more refined and clear.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Kind of strange to include a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack when a 5.1 would have been quite enough.

The show just doesn't support such a broad spectrum of sound. It's nice that Lionsgate is thinking ahead and still adding 7.1 where they can, but here it seems out of place and doesn't really lift the presentation up. Dialogue is crisp and clear through the front channels while the surround channels give off a faint but believable ambient feel. The musical soundtrack is often boisterous, and allows the entire soundfield to shine whenever music is introduced. From rock songs to country songs, 'Nurse Jackie' has them all, it just depends on what is happening on screen. LFE is given room to breath during the musical scores, but stays silent for the rest of the show. One of the most underwhelming 7.1 tracks I've heard, but at least they're using it.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

The special features are labeled on here are being in HD, they are in 1080i. Also, all features only come with Dolby Digital 2.0.

  • Audio Commentaries – The following episodes have commentaries: "Pilot," "Tiny Bubbles," "Ring Finger," and "Health Care & Cinema." Participants in the commentaries include Edie Falco, writer/producer Linda Wallem, writer/producer Liz Brixius, and executive producer Ritchie Jackson. Seeing that I love so many of the characters and actors that play them in this show, it was sad to see that none of them join Edie during the commentaries. The commentaries as they are now are still informative and the commentators have a great rapport with each other, but they aren't as great as they could have been if the whole cast were included.
  • All About Edie (HD, 5 min.) – Everyone involved gets a chance to talk about Edie and the role she's taken on.
  • Unsung Heroes (HD, 5 min.) – Just a short snippet that focuses on real nurses and how hard the job is.
  • Prepping 'Nurse Jackie' (HD, 11 min.) – Gives the actors some time to talk, in-depth, about how they feel about the show and what attracted them to taking their roles.
  • Nurse Stories (SD, 7 min.) – Just a short collection of real-life nurse stories. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives.

Final Thoughts

I would love people to discover 'Nurse Jackie' for the treat that it is, but it isn't for everyone. Most people might be better off renting it or watching it On Demand. However, the series itself comes highly recommended from me. The video is so-so, and the audio is serviceable. More reasons to just go out and rent the show instead of buying it.

Technical Specs

  • 50GB Blu-ray Disc
  • 2-Disc Set

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 Surround Sound

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, Spanish

Supplements

  • Audio commentary with Edie Falco, creator/producers Liz Brixius and Linda Wallam, and producer Richie Jackson
  • Prepping Nurse Jackie
  • All About Edie
  • Nurse Stories
  • Unsung Heroes

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

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