Sunday, April 8, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Nurse Jackie' and 'The Big C'...

TV Talk for Sunday, April 8th 2012

Nurse Jackie (SHO, 9pm) - S4, Ep1: "Kettle Kettle Black Black" - I wish this episode hadn't started with Jackie (Edie Falco) checking herself into rehab only to flash back to why. We know why. We watched three years of why. Bringing home a random stranger (I'm sorry, but I didn't even recognize Billie Joe Armstrong!) who dies on her floor didn't seem that terrible when compared to the things she did to her own family while "in her disease." So starting in rehab and then leaving it only made me want to hurry up and get through her parts to get her back into rehab, where I knew she belonged-- at least for a little while. And it immediately made me think: assuming she really does give sobriety a chance, will she still be the same Jackie I fell in love with in the pilot? Drugs affect so much of behavior that it can also influence the personality. Will she be good at her job sober, or will she hesitate more? Will she make better decisions about her personal life or were the drugs keeping her distracted from screwing things up too badly? It's going to be an amazing season if and when it starts diving into all of that. This premiere, though, was all about Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith) for me. Seeing her kicked down a notch humbled her-- and will undoubtedly allow for a lot of her fun, quirky side to come out. I can already imagine the kind of team she and Zoey (Merritt Wever) will make! And Coop's (Peter Facinelli) "Nurse Jackee" reference? Gold! Bring, it season four!

The Big C (SHO, 9:30pm) - S3, Ep1: "Thin Ice" - This show used to be one of my favorites, but it committed a cardinal sin, in my opinion, but bringing Paul (Oliver Platt) back from the dead. First of all, I've always hated his character. Maybe he reminds me a little bit of my own father with his needling that he thinks is cute but I (and sometimes Cathy) find smothering and annoying; maybe I just hate how he couldn't be a mature man around her diagnosis; maybe for as non-judgmental as the previous show taught me to be toward addiction, I just wanted his drug use to do him in. Certainly it didn't help that the showrunner spent last season talking about three deaths to occur by the finale, so when Cathy (Laura Linney) ran towards her husband at the marathon finish line the way she planned to, only to see him standing next to Marlene (Phyllis Somerville), it felt like the perfect ending. She was fighting for her own life so hard while he had literally snorted his away. I would have found it acceptable to have Platt around for this season-- in ghost form the way we've seen Marlene since her own death. I think that would have added a really interesting layer; maybe in death he finally could have been there for her the way that was healthy. Because now that the show revived him, he's certainly not doing anything to help her. He doesn't have a renewed sense on life where it matters: to take inventory and clean up an act. Sure, he enjoys padding around the house in pajamas all day (who wouldn't!?), but he's still a problem for Cathy-- just a problem with a Key Fob (sic?) now. Boooo. I kept waiting for that key fob shock system to accidentally electrocute him or something and actually kill him permanently this time, as if the finale had been a fake-out, but the show still wanted to drive home that you can't cheat death forever. I thought he might have another heart attack when he saw Cathy slip under the ice. Or that he'd jump in to rescue her and drown. Or freeze to death. I don't know, something to not completely invalidate the end of the last season. The only thing that salvaged it was watching Cathy revert back to living a secret life, clearly hurt by this new turn of events (though, does she even know he brought on the heart attack himself with all of the drugs or is the show trying to trick the audience into forgetting his indiscretions by keeping it from her?). She'll find a way to hurt him the way he hurt us! Also, I'm glad Andrea (Gabourey Sidbe) has returned from Africa, and I think she must have taken acting lessons while down there because tonight's episode was the most natural I've seen her deliver dialogue on this show.

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