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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Nurse Jackie - Season Six (Blu-ray)
Nurse Jackie - Season Six (Blu-ray)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // Unrated // February 10, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $29.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted February 19, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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Nurse Jackie returns for its sixth and penultimate season. (The seventh and final season premieres on April 12th. One imagines it will be out on Blu-ray before the end of summer.) As before, the series continues to be one of the best dramas (with comedy) on television today. It hasn't lost a bit of its punch, and like its titular character, drug addict and acerbic nurse Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco), the show is full of ballsy surprises and stronger than ever.

As I discuss in my reviews of Nurse Jackie's first, second, third, fourth, and fifth seasons, I actually didn't care for it all that much initially; the first few episodes of season one struck me as overly-familiar variations on Paddy Chayefsky's The Hospital (and later the NBC series St. Elsewhere), a black comedy take on a hopelessly broken health care system, albeit done on a much smaller, more intimate, 30-minute show scale.

But Nurse Jackie quickly found its footing, sporting a similar mélange of deliriously eccentric characters and situations. At its core it is a portrait of a working mother of two little girls who, by this point in her story, can no longer hold everything together. Her addiction destroyed her marriage and her now teenage children, primarily cared for by their father, are having serious problems of their own, problems that Jackie's addiction helped create. Outwardly she's rock-solid, strong, assertive, confident, and unfazed by the dozens of problems and injustices hurled at her every day. At the beginning of the season everyone thinks she's sober, but old habits die hard and once again she seems to be spiraling out of control. It's not going to end well.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray of Nurse Jackie - Season Six is, as usual, way above average, with two discs containing all 10 half-hour episodes, buttressed by strong transfers and a lot of extra features. (One BIG complaint, however, is that it takes forever to actually get to the show itself. The FBI warnings and legal disclaimers are not skippable, and there are what feels like 20 minutes of ads.)

Nurse Jackie's season five had been all about Jackie's determination to stay sober as the world seemed to be collapsing around her. When her older daughter, Grace (Ruby Jerins) is caught with drugs, she realizes that the kids would be better off living with their father. That and myriad other problems cause her to fall off the wagon on the evening of her one-year anniversary.

At the beginning of season six, Jackie projects an image of being sober and healthy, but secretly she's back on drugs whole-hog, from a dealer working out of Jackie's gym. Grace, meanwhile, is doing lines of Adderall and openly defiant and hostile toward Jackie all the time, even after Grace is arrested for shoplifting.

As often happens on Nurse Jackie, things quickly go from bad to worse. Her dealer is found out and fired, forcing a desperate Jackie to hook up with a new dealer she has sex with, despite her ongoing relationship with loving new boyfriend Frank (Adam Ferrara), a cop. After Grace is arrested for shoplifting, she spitefully reveals to Jackie ex-husband Kevin's (Dominic Fumusa) secret that he's become engaged to hitherto unknown girlfriend Mia (Laura Benanti).

Jackie's only lifeline this season is her straight-shooting AA sponsor, Antoinette Mills (Julie White). A recovering drunk, Antoinette is scathingly direct while sharing in her past similarly self-destructive behavior that Jackie can relate to. Jackie confesses her various family and work problems, but isn't honest about the fact that she's using and perilously close to losing it all - again.

At work, sexy but self-absorbed and terminally stupid Dr. Carrie Roman (Betty Gilpin) is not only off suspension but, like St. Elsewhere's bumbling Dr. Victor Ehrlich (Ed Begley, Jr.), ironically offered a high-profile TV gig representing All Saints' Hospital's finest. Vain Dr. "Coop" Cooper (Peter Facinelli), dissatisfied with the direction of his own life, finds meaning when a high-end sperm bank recruits him, while flighty Nurse Zoey Barkow (Merritt Wever) and handsome Dr. Ike Prentiss (Morris Chestnut), continue their torrid, not-so-secret relationship.

When it first premiered Nurse Jackie's drug addiction premise received harsh criticism from the New York State Nurses Association, decrying Jackie's unethical behavior, no matter that drug addiction is not at all uncommon among health industry professionals. Of course, they missed the whole point of the show, that Jackie is in many ways a remarkable nurse who probably never could have lasted as long as she did without her steady dose of painkillers and stamina-builders. She thinks of herself as a kind of Supermom, juggling her insane schedule with the (increasingly tough) love and support for her daughters, mothering she wrongly thinks she is adequately providing.

Though predominantly a drama, Nurse Jackie is also very, very funny at times. As always, Merritt Wever's hilariously eccentric nurse, Zoey, so sentimental and anxious to bond with the resolutely unsentimental and nearly misanthropic Jackie (despite Jackie's contrastingly superb bedside manner) remains a truly original, captivating creation.

As noted in my previous reviews, Nurse Jackie episodes run about 26 minutes each. This is the length half-hour shows used to be back in the 1950s and '60s, before encroaching commercial interruptions reduced the number to 24 and, finally, to around 22 minutes. Those extra four minutes are critical; Nurse Jackie works great in a 26-minute format and it makes me wish more current series could return to this ideal running time.

Video & Audio

Nurse Jackie - Season Six is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen in 1080p high-definition. Ten half-hour episodes are presented on two single-sided, region A discs, supported by optional English and Spanish subtitles. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is impressive and, as noted above, only those endless disclaimers and ads get in the way of enjoying the program.

Extra Features

Supplements include a couple of featurettes, both in high-def: "Deceit, Descent, Destruction: Jackie's Fall" and "Growing Up Peyton." Also included are audio commentary tracks by members of the cast and crew and deleted scenes.

Parting Thoughts

Still this critic's favorite continuing American TV drama, Nurse Jackie is terrific while the Blu-ray offers a spot-on presentation and is Highly Recommended. If you haven't seen it, catch up with it now.

Stuart Galbraith IV is the Kyoto-based film historian and publisher-editor of World Cinema Paradise. His credits include film history books, DVD and Blu-ray audio commentaries and special features.

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