Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Nurse Jackie, "Tiny Bubbles"

This dark medical dramedy was never better — as drama or as comedy — than when it stared into the eyes of death. Judith Ivey guest-starred as a former nurse dying of cancer who asked her old colleagues for a farewell toast: a glass of champagne and enough medication to kill her. With Edie Falco as the title character — a dedicated, overworked and overtired nurse who battles for her patients and cheats on her husband — Nurse Jackie emerged as a story of imperfect people trying to do good, even (and especially) when they didn't know what good was. The freshman show was like a hospital Rescue Me, a gallows comedy about professionals bearing up and flipping death the bird. Ivey captured the show's spirit: feisty, profane, defiant and yet — when her asked-for death approached — humanly afraid. It's not easy to go head-to-head with Edie Falco in anything; Ivey managed to do it lying down.