Hello, Nurse! Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, returning on Apr. 12 for its seventh and final season, is a show on many people’s “I’m gonna get to that” list. It’s totally binge-worthy, so here’s what you need to know before starting. Could be just what the doctor — er, nurse — ordered.

 

Nurse Jackie

Nurse Jackie
What’s the premise? A pill-popping nurse in a frenzied New York City hospital struggles to keep a handle on her addiction and deal with a destructing marriage while tending to patients in need.

What’s it like? Sort of like a Grey’s Anatomy on steroids (or Vicodin, Xanax, Oxycontin, Adderall, or Percocet), Nurse Jackie has become a reference point for shows dubbed “dramedies.” Its charming treatment of real-life anguish steers viewers into a place of hope, connecting us to these wondrous and fragile characters. Due to its succinct thirty minute episodes, Jackie often ends up on “comedy” lists for award nominations, but its comedy is fueled by an honest portrayal of tragedy, with stand-out comedic performances by Merritt Weaver (Zoey) and Anna Deavere Smith (Gloria Akalitus).

Where can I see it? Nurse Jackie can be found on Showtime (online with subscription), Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play, Xbox Video, and XFinity by Comcast. All six seasons are also available on DVD/Blu-Ray for all you old-schoolers. Season seven premieres Apr. 12, on Showtime.

How long will it take? There are six seasons and a total of 66 episodes. With each episode running around 30 minutes, it’ll take you a total of 33 hours. You may want to schedule a visiting nurse to bring you food and fluff your pillows while you watch.

What do the critics think? Nurse Jackie is Fresh as far as the critics are concerned. Season one is Certified Fresh at 95 percent, while seasons two through five are 75 percent, 80 percent, 100 percent and 71 percent respectively on the Tomatometer. Season six drops a bit to 67%. Over the years, critics have responded positively to the show. Of season five, Matthew Gilbert from the Boston Globe said, “It’s honest, credible, trustworthy storytelling.” Matt Roush of TV Guide reviewed season four, calling it “one of TV’s most uncompromising dark comedies.” Of season one, Popmatters’ Michael Abernathy said Nurse Jackie “offers both gripping drama and outrageous comedy.” Since its debut in 2009, Nurse Jackie has been a standout work that has fans and critics laughing and crying along.

Why should I watch this? In the role of Nurse Jackie, Edie Falco has been nominated for five Emmys, one of which she won in 2010 (the show itself won three additional Emmys), and she’s also been nominated for six SAG Awards and four Golden Globes. But one stellar performance is not reason enough to get addicted to a TV series. Excellent supporting players and gripping scripts make Nurse Jackie a winner with its perfectly balanced combination of funny and sad. Many may suspect that Nurse Jackie is more of a “women’s show,” but the issues of addiction and adultery resonate across genders. And ultimately what keeps everyone coming back is the biting hilarity of the dialogue.

What’s my next step? Edie Falco’s award-winning performance on The Sopranos should be your first step. Grey’s Anatomy is an obvious choice for those who are addicted to medical dramas. And another current medical drama is NBC’s The Night Shift. Highly recommended, though, is the short-lived Laura Dern- and Mike White-created TV show Enlightened, which has a similar tone to Nurse Jackie. For those who enjoy more traditional medical dramas, there’s ER, Chicago Hope and the short runs of Trauma Center and Monday Mornings, but for sitcom-style medical antics, try Scrubs. Jackie costar Peter Facinelli can now be seen on American Odyssey. Fans of the show should also enjoy the Certifed Fresh shows The Good Wife and The Knick, which stars Clive Owen as the cocaine-addled Dr. Thackery in turn-of-the-century New York City. On the film side, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is worth watching for its critique of healthcare institutions and Erin Brockovich shows another funny-yet-serious depiction of strong women making a difference.

This week on home video, we’ve got a surprisingly solid list of new films to check out, including no less than five Certified Fresh movies. Considering the glut of bad movies plaguing most cineplexes these days, the offerings below make a strong case for staying in. Read on for details:



Nightcrawler

95%

Jake Gyllenhaal’s really been on a tear in recent years. Beginning with 2011’s Source Code, he’s starred in five straight Certified Fresh films, and his most recent effort even drew some awards attention. Nightcrawler stars Gyllenhaal as a petty thief who spies a future in amateur video journalism and, after selling some footage to a news director (Rene Russo), begins a dark downward spiral into his most sociopathic impulses. The feature directing debut of screenwriter Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler earned high marks from critics who cited Gyllenhaal’s creepy performance as a highlight and made comparisons to Taxi Driver. Certified Fresh at 95 percent, this is a dark thriller that operates equally well as a thought-provoking satire of sensationalist news media.



Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

61%

Live action family films — decent ones, anyway — seem to be rarer in supply these days, so it’s always a nice surprise when one comes along that’s pleasant and suitably entertaining. Based on the popular 1972 children’s book of the same name, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is about exactly what its title indicates: on the day before his 12th birthday, a young boy named Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) stumbles through an extremely unfortunate series of events. Spoiler alert: everything turns out okay. Most critics found Alexander a perfectly fine diversion for parents to share with their kids, even if the film fails to make a strong, lasting impression, and awarded it a respectable 62 percent on the Tomatometer. It’s not the best kids’ movie around, but it’s pretty harmless and good-natured.



Rosewater

76%

During the Summer of 2013, Jon Stewart took a short break from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show to focus on his feature directorial debut, a drama based on a true story that, at least peripherally, involved him. Rosewater depicts the plight of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari (played by Gael García Bernal), who was detained by Iran in 2009 after he sent video footage of post-election riots to the BBC. Held in prison for almost four months, Bahari was tortured and interrogated about, among other things, his appearance on Stewart’s satirical show, before finally being released. Based on the best-selling memoir that Bahari wrote about the experience, Rosewater earned mostly strong reviews from critics, who rewarded the film with a Certified Fresh 74 percent for its timely subject matter, Bernal’s performance, and Stewart’s prowess in his first stint behind the camera.



Predestination

84%

It’s unusual for a genre flick released during the first half of January to earn high marks from critics, especially one that, save for the involvement of star Ethan Hawke, reads more like something you might find in the direct-to-dvd listings, but Predestination managed to beat the odds. In it, Hawke plays an unnamed “Temporal Agent,” tasked with time-traveling to the past to stop crime. Given one last job before retirement, the Agent travels to the 1970s to meet with a man whose unusual life story leads to a twisty, decade-hopping pursuit of the truth. Certified Fresh at 81 percent, Predestination impressed critics with its surprisingly smart storytelling — as well as a remarkable performance from costar Sarah Snook — and helped offer a mindbending alternative to the usual January dreck.

Also available this week:

  • The Cannes Festival-winning Force Majeure (93 percent), a Swedish drama about a small family vacationing in the alps whose bonds are tested when its patriarch leaves them in the lurch during an avalanche scare.
  • Taiwanese import Stray Dogs (88 percent), a drama about a destitute man living on the streets and his two children, who encounter a mysterious woman that may change their lives.
  • Kill the Messenger (77 percent), a Certified Fresh thriller starring Jeremy Renner as Gary Webb, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who publicized his findings on the birth of the crack epidemic and the shady dealings of the CIA.
  • Felony (74 percent), starring Joel Edgerton and Tom Wilkinson in a crime thriller about three detectives at odds with each other after an accident that nearly kills a child.
  • Lynn Shelton’s Laggies (69 percent), starring Keira Knightley and Chloe Grace Moretz in a dramedy about a 28-year-old slacker who befriends a teen and falls for her father.
  • Addicted (8 percent), a drama about a married woman who embarks down a dark road of temptation.
  • HBO’s miniseries Olive Kitteridge (95 percent), starring Frances McDormand and Bill Murray in a four-part adaptation of the Elizabeth Strout novel of the same name.
  • Season six of Showtime’s dark dramedy Nurse Jackie (67 percent), starring Edie Falco as a drug-addicted nurse.
  • And finally, two choices from the Criterion Collection: Nicolas Roeg’s classic thriller Don’t Look Now (96 percent), starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, and Jean Renoir’s A Day in the Country (100 percent), a shorter feature about a family’s idyllic vacation in the French countryside.
This week, we learn that Chris Pratt will host SNL, Terry Crews will give directions on Waze, Gilmore Girls will head to Netflix, George Clooney will visit Downton, and Nurse Jackie will retire.

Chris Pratt will host the season premiere of Saturday Night Live.

As the box office numbers for Guardians of the Galaxy continue to rocket higher and higher, Chris Pratt‘s stock continues to rise as well. This week, NBC announced that Pratt will host the premiere of the 40th season of Saturday Night Live, airing Sept. 27. Pratt, who showed off his comedy chops on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, will be joined by musical guest Ariana Grande, a singer whose 2014 song “Problem” was the fourth largest single debut by a woman in history. NBC will celebrate the 40th anniversary of SNL with a three-hour special scheduled for Feb. 15 of next year.

All seven seasons of Gilmore Girls are coming to Netflix.

According to the entertainment website Decider.com, all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls will be available on Netflix, starting Oct. 1. For the uninitiated, that’s 153 episodes of Gilmore Girls. The series aired on The WB and eventually The CW from 2000 to 2007, and starred Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel — and also introduced us to Melissa McCarthy, who played Lorelai Gilmore’s best friend, Sookie St. James. All seasons of Gilmore Girls are also available on iTunes and DVD.

George Clooney will star in a Downton-themed short film.

Hold onto your exquisite hats. George Clooney is coming to Downton Abbey in a short film for charity, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. The short Downton-related film will air during the holiday season on ITV, the British home for Downton Abbey. Clooney, whose character is still unknown, is doing the project as part of the “Text Santa” campaign, ITV’s annual fundraiser that raises money for six U.K. charities. ITV will premiere season five of Downton later this month. We’ll see it here across the pond on PBS Jan. 4, 2015.

Nurse Jackie is retiring.

Nurse Jackie‘s seventh season, which begins production this week, will be its last. Showtime made the announcement on Wednesday, tweeting: “#NurseJackie is working one last shift! Join us in celebrating and bidding farewell to the 7th & FINAL season in 2015.” While the Emmys have continued to acknowledge Jackie throughout its run (and especially star Edie Falco), the show has dropped off the radars of viewers and critics alike, many of whom say it got a little too “been there, snorted that” in its most recent season.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Terry Crews will voice the Waze app.

Sitting in traffic is awful, but thanks to the crowdsourced GPS app Waze, you can circumnavigate jams with funnyman Terry Crews as your guide. Crews is the second celebrity to give directions on Waze (the first was Kevin Hart for his film Ride Along), promoting the second season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. To cruise with Crews, Waze users can update the app, select “Settings,” “Sound,” and “English (US) – Terry Crews.” Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine premieres Sunday, Sept. 28, at 8:30 pm.

Bruce Willis will play opposite Halle Berry in the upcoming James Foley crime thriller "Perfect Stranger," says Variety.

"Berry plays a woman who goes undercover, both on and offline, to investigate a friend’s murder. Willis will play one of the chief suspects Berry is investigating."

Originally written by Jon Bokenkamp, with subsequent rewrites by Frank Rinzulli and Todd Komarnicki, "Perfect Stranger" will be brought to the screen by James Foley, director of "Fear," "Who’s That Girl?," "Glengarry Glen Ross," among others.

Production on the Revolution Studios project is scheduled to begin early next year.

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