It's all starting to unravel around Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) as the second season of 'Nurse Jackie' starts up. Her lover Eddie has found out about that she's married and has a family and now he seems determined to make matters worse by becoming friends with her husband. Jackie's habitual prescription drug abuse is beginning to take its toll. When Eddie is replaced at the hospital by a Pill-O-Matix (an electronic pharmacy) she finds it increasingly difficult to get the drugs she is now addicted to.
Meanwhile, many of the secondary characters are forced into the forefront as we focus more on colorful characters like Dr. Cooper (Peter Facinelli), Zoe (Merritt Wever), Dr. O'Hara (Eve Best) and Gloria Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith). The reason why 'Nurse Jackie' is so much fun to watch is its diverse and endearing supporting cast.
In the first season, Zoe was innocent and afraid, but she's come into her own now and has become one of the best characters of the series. Dr. Cooper is always good for a laugh even though he's so damn frustrating sometimes. His "If Looks Could Cure" advertising campaign is one of the best moments of season two. Dr. O'Hara wants to set up a college fund for Jackie's kids and is also dealing with her own relationship troubles. Akalitus, who I thought was a standard uncaring bureaucrat at first, has blossomed into a deep, well-rounded, and often hilarious character. There aren't many other shows on TV that seem to give their supporting cast so much to do. They're usually there to fill out the edges, in 'Nurse Jackie' the supporting cast is the lifeline that holds everything together. Often they're more interesting to follow than Jackie herself.
Season two comes to a head quickly as Jackie becomes increasingly more brazen in her attempts to find drugs and sneak behind her husband's back. Even though she's the main character, it's often hard to associate ourselves with her. She's not a decent person in the sense of the usual protagonist. She's usually the antagonist, here. She uses her family and her friends for her own means, but gets angry when the tables are turned on her. She's a tough character to love, but it's hard to look away.
'Nurse Jackie' is so simple. It isn't like the myriad of ER shows out there that deal with soap opera-like love stories between doctors. It isn't a medical show featuring the most bizarre disease imaginable. It's a show about real people that just so happens to be centered on a hospital.
Showtime has become adept at showcasing television shows about real human drama with wonderful writing. 'The United States of Tara' and 'Californication' are just two of their dramas that have won my heart. 'Nurse Jackie' has followed suit. It's an easy show to love, and if you've followed it into its second season, you know what I'm talking about.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'Nurse Jackie: Season 2' comes packaged in your standard sized Blu-ray keepcase that has two disc hubs inside (one on the back cover and one on the front). Each 50GB Blu-ray Disc comes with six half-hour long episodes on it (12 episodes in the season). There's also a flimsy insert provided that tells you the name of each episode, who wrote it, and who directed.
In my review of 'Nurse Jackie: Season 1' I commented that the pilot episode, and a few episodes after that, were prone to unsightly noise and unattractive background flickering that drove me crazy. I'm proud to report that none of those problems have found their way onto the season two Blu-ray release.
Sporting a 1080p image with the help of an AVC encode 'Nurse Jackie's 1.78:1 video presentation is clean, clear, and free from all of the noise that hampered the first season. This season's clarity is nearly top-notch. Close-ups reveal endless amounts of fine detail. One close-up shot of Jackie's young daughter sporting stitches on her upper lip is one of the most detailed shots you'll see. You can see the lines in her lips, the tiny weave of the stitches, and her faint freckles. Colors are bright and vivid throughout, even in the sterile florescent-lit hospital. Blacks are nice and deep while whites are effervescent (the dream-like scenes that feature stark white backgrounds are really fun to watch).
Season two has bested season one by miles when it comes to video performance on Blu-ray. This is about as good as it's going to get for this show. There is some softness, but that's to be expected. I didn't notice any artifacting other than a slight shimmering that was present on a teacher's tightly checkered jacket and tie. Other than that, this is a very clean looking high-definition transfer.
'Nurse Jackie' season two, like the first season, actually comes with a 7.1 DTS-HD lossless surround sound mix because it's from Lionsgate. The video from this season didn't mirror the first season, but the audio certainly mimics it in every way.
This is a very reserved 7.1 mix even when the majority of the show is based inside a busy, bustling hospital. The side channels are only occasionally busy with activity, while most of the sound design is centered in the front. Dialogue is crisp and comes through intelligibly through the center and front channels. The rears seem very quiet most of the time, usually only springing to life when music blares from the show's soundtrack. LFE is almost non-existent and only pops in when large hospital doors are swung open or when someone kicks the Pill-O-Matix because it isn't working.
It's an underwhelming 7.1 mix, but like I said about the first season, it's just nice that people like Lionsgate are trying to make it the norm.
While the commentaries with Best and Facinelli are the best because of their light-hearted discussions, the commentaries with Falco and the producers are the most informative. They talk about how the show has evolved and Falco discusses what it's like to play Jackie even when she constantly has to lie to everyone.
I just really like 'Nurse Jackie' ok? There's not much else to it. Showtime has become a one-stop shop for character-driven drama. The writing is spectacular in a sort of understated glory. The characters are rich and diverse. It's often funny and at times poignant. What else could you want in a half hour of television? The video is a big step up from the problematic first season release. Even though this season, like the first, sports a 7.1 DTS-HD mix it's still pretty unglamorous. The special features are pretty run-of-the-mill. This one comes recommended, especially for fans of the show that are waiting like I am for the third season to start up at the end of March. This is a wonderful way to pass the time.