Nurse Jackie: Another Hit for Showtime?

It's not TV or HBO. It's Showtime.

The battle between HBO and Showtime seemed like a David vs. Goliath affair for years, with the latter's slingshot perpetually empty.

Now, it is Showtime's turn to capture the zeitgeist with original offerings like Weeds, Dexter, and The Tudors. All the while HBO trots out noble attempts like The Comeback and John From Cincinnati, two shows which couldn't hold a candle to the pay channel's iconic hits like Sex and the City and The Sopranos.

Showtime's latest salvo hits HBO where it hurts, since it stars Carmela Soprano herself, Emmy winner Edie Falco.

Nurse Jackie, which debuts tonight at 10:30 on Showtime, follows a no-nonsense nurse trying to heal the sick, right the wrongs, and pull off any other noble gesture she can during her endless stream of double shifts. Yes, the world hardly needs another medical drama, but casting someone like Falco as a complicated nurse is enough to chase away most cynical thoughts.

Falco is an unconventional beauty, the kind of actress whose talent somehow can't transition to the big screen. Or maybe it's that few screenwriters write the kind of rewarding roles for which she's uniquely qualified. Like Holly Hunter and Kyra Sedgwick, Falco has decided to make her way via small screen projects. It's the film industry's loss, but today's studios too often look askance at actresses over 40 who aren't named Streep or Sarandon.

Falco sports a boy-like hairdo in Nurse Jackie, a style completely removed from the New Jersey coif we've come to know and love. The series opens with Jackie rationalizing her need to pop pills to make it through another day. From there she correctly diagnoses a patient who comes into the ER with a seemingly minor leg injury. Naturally, the doctor on call (Peter Facinelli of Twilight fame) is too arrogant to consider her opinion, setting the stage for the first episode's big moral crisis.