‘Nurse Jackie’ Twists

TV/DVD: Nurse Jackie — Tagged as black comedy but more black comic drama as I see it, this Showtime series takes the medical wartime spirit of *M*A*S*H* and drops it down into the urban hospital emergency room milieu and flips the equation to place the women at the forefront. And all of it to great as well as funny, telling and sometimes touching effect. Edie Falco, who built a suburban mom and mobster wife into a potent character on The Sopranos, again proves how she is one of television’s best actresses as nurse Jackie Payton. She has a pharmaceutical drug jones that helps her keep going on the job while juggling her workmate lover and husband and being a mom to two kids, and also has to negotiate the moral versus ethical demands of modern health care on the front line. The show is funny, real, sometimes provocative and even serious and by the end of season one (which comes out on DVD in late February) the increasing witty and odd twist augur for an even better second season (starting March 22).

CD: Shimmer by Pieta Brown — Amongst the plethora of female singer-songwriters on the scene today, Brown has subtly and seductively wooed me over what is now five small label releases into becoming quite the fervent fan. The daughter of longtime Midwest folk scene stalwart Greg Brown, she’s her own distinctive quantity with an evanescent allure that’s like a narcotic once her charms take old. Her latest set is produced by studio master Don Was — whose credits range from Bob Dylan to Paula Abdul to The Rolling Stones to Willie Nelson — and he shows just how canny he is by backing her sly and hypnotic songs and voice with just his bass and Brown’s longtime foil Bo Ramsey on guitar. It’s only a mere seven songs here, yet I can’t help but savor them over and over and find more to enjoy with the disc’s limited tracks and minimal settings than albums with far more numbers and musical backing. But that’s because Brown has a rare magic, and in due time she will make her mark with a larger audience in the same way this set has tattooed its imprint on my heart.

TV/DVD: Parks and Recreation — From the folks that brought you the US version of The Office comes this small town comedy series centered around Amy Poehler’s sweet, wacky and sometimes charmingly naïve civil servant. Like The Office, it’s filmed in a semi-documentary style in which the characters talk and explain themselves to the camera. The first season (out on DVD) started slow but by the final episodes caught its momentum with a light, breezy and sometimes even silly air that nonetheless hits on serious matters with a sure yet still light and loving comedic touch. By its second season currently airing, it has become one of those shows that brings you into its little family and gets even more absurdist and delightful. Combined with The Office and 30 Rock in NBC’s Thursday prime time line up, it’s part of the best sitcom hat trick on TV today.

From The Progressive Populist, Febuary 15, 2010


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