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From Soprano to ‘Nurse Jackie’: Edie Falco’s Return to TV

edie3The above billboard, with an image of a sexy-but-sinister nurse, has sprouted up all over the advertising landscape and Edie Falco can’t stand it, as she explains in this interview:

I can see why Falco is uncomfortable with all of the attention. She’s used to being a part of one of the greatest television ensembles ever. On The Sopranos she played Carmela, the thick-skinned wife of a mafioso. As the title character in Nurse Jackie, which premiered on Showtime last week, Falco gives us another strong woman, but in a completely different universe.

The pilot begins with Jackie laying face-up on the floor in an exhausted and bewildered trance.  This first lingering shot is the only slow and quiet moment in the entire episode. We are then thrown right into the fast-paced, manic environment of the New York hospital where she works. To start off her long night, Jackie snorts painkillers and then has sex with her inside-hospital drug hook-up Eddie (Paul Schulze). We later find out that she has a loving husband and kids waiting for her at home.

She then attempts to save the life a badly hurt bike messenger with rookie Dr. Cooper (Twilight‘s Peter Facinelli). But the kid dies and Jackie is remorseful.  This is the first moment where we see her with true emotion. Jackie blames Cooper for the fatal mistake and when she tries to chew him out, he feels her boobs. “I have this weird condition when I get nervous”, he explains.  “It’s like turrets.” Jackie doesn’t buy it. And neither did I.

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Nurse Jackie is filled with so many of these idiosyncratic set-ups that, after a while, any element of surprise dissipates. The show’s creators and writers, Liz Brixius and Linda Wallem, want so badly to emulate other quirky medical dramas like House and Martin Scorsese‘s dream-like Bringing Out the Dead, that they lose their own voices in the process.

Even the ad campaign is made up of borrowed ideas. Check out the poster for Robert Rodriguez‘s 2007 zombie flick Planet Terror. The similarity is no coincidence. Nurse Jackie is a mish-mash of elements that other shows and movies have already used to perfection. While its performances are strong, especially Falco’s, Nurse Jackie ultimately leaves you feeling empty and craving the real thing. It lacks that one fundamental ingredient that made other anti-hero-themed Showtime series like Dexter so successful: originality. You can watch the pilot on Showtime’s official website.

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