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'Nurse Jackie' returns for second season

Edie Falco stars as Jackie Peyton in the

Edie Falco stars as Jackie Peyton in the Showtime original series, "Nurse Jackie." Credit: AP Photo

Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) is an ER nurse at Manhattan's All Saints who got hooked on pain meds after a back injury, and subsequently got hooked on the guy scoring them for her - Eddie (Paul Schulze), the hospital pharmacist. That complicates life because she's married to the extremely perfect Kevin (Dominic Fumusa) - he runs a bar - and is mother to two little darlings, Grace (Ruby Jerins) and Fiona (Mackenzie Aladjem). Grace, however, is becoming a budding nihilist. Meanwhile, Eddie nearly tried to kill himself in the first season over his crossed love for Jackie, who is determined to get her life on track.

This week: It has come to the attention of New York state authorities that a drug "shrinkage" appears to be taking place at All Saints. Hospital administrator Gloria Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith) tells the assembled staff that the pill dispenser "is not a candy machine, people." Demonstrating proper use of the machine - while clandestinely palming a vial or two - Jackie tells the gang, "any shrinkage makes us look bad, even if its Imodium." ("It never is," Gloria says.)

Meanwhile . . . Dr. "Coop" Cooper (Peter Facinelli) has taken to tweeting, while Dr. Eleanor O'Hara (Eve Best) has just lost her mom, and has been appointed godmother to Grace and Fiona.

My say: Last year, the fiendishly clever people at Showtime unveiled their dastardly plan to conquer HBO - snatch some of the finest actresses in the English-speaking world, put them in shows about addicted nurses or people with multiple personalities - not TV comfort food, by any means - and watch them morph to must-see status. Mission accomplished. With Best, Falco and Smith, the network could've put 'em in a show about potato sacks and still scored.

Bottom line: Not consistently funny, perhaps, but when Best and/or Falco are on screen, the angels sing. Both are remarkable.

Grade: B+

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