‘Nurse Jackie’ offers a shot of dramedy

Posted June 07, 2009, at 6:13 p.m.

Edie Falco isn’t one to rest on her laurels.

She could have sat back and savored the three Emmys she won as Mafia wife Carmela on “The Sopranos.”

Instead, less than two years after the acclaimed HBO drama faded to black to the strains of Journey, she returns as the titular character in the new Showtime dramedy “Nurse Jackie,” debuting at 10:30 tonight.

Jackie Peyton is an opinionated, veteran nurse at All Saints Hospital in New York who seeks to help patients coming through the emergency room doors, and she’ll overcome all obstacles to do that.

But don’t mistake Jackie for one of those saints in her hospital’s title. She’s having an affair. She has a pill problem. She has her own code of justice that has little to do with what’s legal. Still, her heart is in the right place.

Jackie is aided in her mission by her pharmacist boyfriend, Eddie (played by Paul Schulze), fellow nurse Mo-Mo (Haaz Sleiman), student nurse Zoey (Merritt Wever) and her best friend, Dr. Eleanor O’Hara (Eve Best).

She’s constantly working to outwit incompetent Dr. Fitch Cooper (Peter Facinelli) and cold-hearted administrator Gloria Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith).

“Nurse Jackie” is the often bittersweet story of Jackie’s life, whether she’s dealing with problems at home with her bar owner husband, Kevin (Dominic Fumusa), and their two daughters or at the hospital working, often for long hours to the point of exhaustion.

Showtime has finally found a fitting companion piece for its stellar series “Weeds,” which airs before “Nurse Jackie.” Both series revolve around strong women doing whatever they have to do to keep their families afloat in an uncertain world.

Viewers should fight to be admitted to the world of “Nurse Jackie,” where they’ll be treated with ample doses of both humor and pathos.

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