Edie Falco returns in 'Nurse Jackie'

Ediefalco_nursejackie_290 Edie Falco is fantastic in her new series "Nurse Jackie," premiering Monday at 10:30 p.m. on Showtime.

As Jackie Peyton, Falco is positively mesmerizing as an ER nurse who fiercely cares about her patients. There's not a trace of Carmela Soprano to be found. That may sound like an obvious thing to say but the way Falco so fully and effortlessly embodies a character should not be taken for granted. Falco is a rare and special actress.

But here's the thing about Jackie. She's goofed up. She has, shall we say, interesting ways of managing the stress of working in the ER. And for reasons that after six episodes still aren't entirely clear, she's insistent on keeping her personal and her professional life very, very separate.

Jackie's best friend at work is Dr. Eleanor O'Hara (Eve Best), an extremely rich doctor (she'll throw clothes away rather than dry clean them) who only sees her patients as problems to solve not people with real lives behind the reason they're in the hospital. She kind of what would have happened if Samantha from "Sex & the City" was a doctor. So far O'Hara is so devoid of emotions, it's hard to care about her. She also has way too much time to go out for big fancy meals and often drags Jackie along with her which really doesn't fit well with Jackie being a nurse at an understaffed ER.

At work, Jackie carries on with pharmacist Eddie Walzer (Paul Schulze). It's very fun to see Falco and Schulze, who played Father Intinola on "The Sopranos," actually having a chance to play on the natural chemistry. Jackie is also supervising nervous student nurse Zoey Barkow (Merritt Wever, and I'll tell you because it drove me crazy, that she looks familiar because she was Matthew Perry's assistant on "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"). Jackie's no nonsense attitude plays particularly and amusingly well in Falco's scenes with Wever. Peter Facinelli also stars as the smug Dr. Fitch Cooper, or Coop as he insists on everyone calling him. He's a great character because I think every office as someone like him roaming around.

I breezed through the six episodes available for review. They're intensely watchable. But yet I still felt like something was missing from the show. And I think it's that even though the show is told from Jackie's perspective, we still don't know enough about her. I don't understand why she's making some of the very bad choices she is making. I have no real insight into her character, only theories I can concoct in my own mind. That's fine for now, but I hope the show starts telling us more soon. Four (out of five) stars.

After you've watched "Nurse Jackie" let me know what you think.

The 2009 Amy Awards

Thank you so much to everyone who sent in the nominees for the 2009 Amy Awards. This really is my favorite time of year and I learn SO much by reading through your nominations -- it's definitely a window into your remote. I'll spend the week tabulating your votes and then on Friday, I will announce the nominees for the 2009 Amy Awards and voting for the winners will begin.

Highlights of the Week Ahead

All times listed are Eastern Time for the week of June 8-14

"The Big Bang Theory" is on twice tonight on CBS. Once in its old 8 p.m. timeslot and once in its new 9:30 p.m. time slot which is a repeat of the episode that found the boys on a train with Summer Glau.

I hope you have your DVRs ready for tonight. You would think it's fall with all the new shows airing on a Monday night. And file under random coincidence, three shows are back for their fifth season. Beginning with "The Closer," which returns Monday at 9 p.m. on TNT. Kyra Sedgwick is always good but she gets a chance to really do some fantastic work tonight. And if you missed my review of the second season premiere of "Raising the Bar," check out my column from last Friday.

Kathy Griffin returns for a fifth season of "My Life on the D List" Monday at 10 p.m. on Bravo. The show heads in a new direction this season as Kathy visits celebrities in the hopes of getting on the A list. In the premiere, she visits Bette Midler and repeats a joke that got her into trouble on New Year's Eve. We'll still get glimpses into her life (including the remodeling her house is undergoing) but the setup is a little more contrived than in season's past. Thankfully Griffin is still as funny as she's ever been. And that's why I've always liked her. Bottom line -- she's hilarious. She may have no censor but, more often than not, she says what many of us are thinking.

"Weeds" has gone off the rails the way "Nip/Tuck" did a few years ago. To me, this once black comedy, which returns for a fifth season Monday at 10 p.m. on Showtime, has become far too disturbing to watch. I should clarify -- it's disturbing without being compelling TV. Nancy (Mary-Louis Parker) is a terrible mother. We know this. But I no longer can watch her sleepwalk through the series. She's infuriatingly passive about what's happening all around her. Even now, when Esteban (Demian Bichir), the drug lord she's sleeping with, knows that she's ratted him out to the Feds and her life is in dire danger. The only thing preventing Esteban from killing her is that Nancy is pregnant with his child. Meanwhile her youngest son Shane (Alexander Gould) is selling drugs at school and her older son Silas (Hunter Parrish) is plotting how to take his business to the next level. Meanwhile Celia (Elizabeth Perkins) has been kidnapped but no one cares enough about her to want to pay her ransom. It's a one-note joke that the show keeps hitting throughout the episode with little pay off. The series is trying to do anything in the name of black comedy, but it's lost sight of its characters or a reason for viewers to care about them.

I plan on watching the repeat of the pilot of "90210" (Tuesday, CW, 8 p.m.) to see if Annie was as annoying when the show first began. Also I have a question for those of you who watch the new show but never watched the original. Will you miss seeing the original cast? From what I understand, we won't be seeing as much as the original cast next season and I know fans like me are very disappointed by this but I'm wondering how people who never watched them originally feel.

I wonder why it is that the contestants on "So You Think You Can Dance" are so much more gracious when the are booted from the show in the audition phase than the contestants on "American Idol" are. Do you think it's because you really can't be as delusional about your dancing ability as you can about your singing ability? Whatever the reason, I like it. The Top 20 perform this Wednesday at 8 p.m. on FOX and then two contestants will be eliminated on Thursday.

ABC airs the last episode of "Pushing Daisies" Saturday at 10 p.m. Nora Dunn and Wendie Malick guest star as a synchronized swimming duo. Word is we will get at least a little bit of closure before the series says goodbye. I do have a question for all you "Pushing Daisies" fans . . . how have you found these final three episodes? I'll be asking the same question soon of "Eli Stone" and "Dirty Sexy Money" fans. ABC begins airing the final episodes of "Eli Stone" on Saturday, June 20 and "Dirty Sexy Money" will begin on Saturday, July 18.

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That's all for today. I'm back on Wednesday with a review of the new season of "True Blood" and this week's familiar faces. Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate a quote of the week or a topic for discussion? Write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com. Have a great weekend. Talk to you on Monday.