Nurse, mother and wife, Edie Falco's Jackie Peyton is quick, as in sizing up the situations that find their way to the ER in All Saints Hospital in Manhattan in the new Showtime drama, Nurse Jackie.
Quick to tell a self-absorbed Dr. Cooper (Peter Facinelli) to get on the stick after his incorrect diagnosis costs a life; quick to slide around hospital protocol when it comes to saving or an improving a patient's condition; and quick to lash out a school psychiatrist for labeling her older daughter Grace (Ruby Jerins) as having an anxiety disorder.
But Peyton is an anti-heroine with her own flaws. She's popping or snorting various pharmaceuticals to get through her back pain and the pressures of the day; cheating with hospital pharmacist Eddie Walzer (lust finally requited with Paul Schulze, Father Phil in The Sopranos); and in letting her husband Kevin (Dominic Fumusa), who owns a bar in Queens, handle most of the parenting.
This moral dichotomy and duality -- her compassion and duplicity -- play out quickly in a half-hour bursts that end storylines more abruptly than most dramas and keep the action bouncing back to Falco.
That's a good thing because the other characters don't play to her standard: a pair of stereotypical male nurses with eyes for each other; an intrusive administrator Gloria Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith) who graduated from the nurse's station; and a look-down-her nose physician Dr. O'Hara, (Eve Best), whom doesn't seem to be the type Jackie would suffer long, but somehow does.
Nursing newcomer Zoey (Merritt Wever) is more amusing, bringing a sense of professional and social naivete to the jaded hospital world, exemplified by comments referring to Jackie as a saint.
A devil, too, which made this reviewer quickly screen through all six installments that were made available.
Nurse Jackie debuts on Showtime June 8 at 10:30 p.m. (Click here for a sneak preview.)