Things finally caught up with "Nurse Jackie" in the show's fourth season -- newly released on DVD and Blu-ray (Lionsgate) -- as the drug-addicted nurse played by Emmy winner Edie Falco fought hard to kick her drug habit, but had to fight just as hard to keep her daughters when bitter, estranged husband Kevin became fully aware of her drugging and philandering ways.
And then there was a new hospital administrator to battle, the ambitious Dr. Cruz (Bobby Cannavale), who made sweeping changes, brought more complications than a recovering Jackie needed, and whose son, Charlie (Bobby Cannavale's son, Jake), also added drama that ultimately took the dark comedy to a tragic place to end Season 4.
The season, which hits DVD and Blu-ray with cast and crew commentaries, a featurette on the Cannavales as the Cruzes, a gag reel, and a featurette on the cast's favorite on-set moments working with Falco, also found Zoey becoming Jackie's new roomie (and embracing her new position as a pseudo second mom to the girls as only Zoey could) and taking her romance with Lenny up a notch, while Coop (Peter Facinelli) pitched himself as a father figure for Dr. O'Hara's (Eve Best) unborn baby.
The cast talks about filming in NYC:
With the show's fifth season still a few weeks away, Zoey's portrayer, the Emmy-nominated Merritt Wever, talked to Yahoo! TV about Season 4's finale, where the characters find themselves when the show picks up a couple of months later in Season 5, and which other cable drama she'd like to visit someday.
Have you already filmed all of Season 5?
Yes. We finished December 21st. So yeah, now we just wait for it to air and see if we come back in the fall.
That ending for Season 4 was emotional, with the tragedy for Dr. Cruz, but then, happily, the birth of Dr. O'Hara's baby. Where do we pick up with Season 5?
I know what you mean about the end of Season 4; it was a bit of a blockbuster. But we open in Season 5 a couple of months [after the end of Season 4]. And Jackie's working at the hospital again. As is Akalitus [Anna Deavere Smith].
Oh, that's great news!
I know. I know … that was so sad at the end of Season 4, when she and Eddie [Paul Schulze] get fired. That was … they were really good scenes, but they were really upsetting. So the two of them are back on the, well, Akalitus is back in her old position. And I believe that Eddie is about to be reinstated, rehired. So the gang is together again.
There are major departures of, or there is a departure [by] a beloved character, and we also have some people coming back who I guess you thought were gone. But it's definitely a different kind of season, I think.
What's the temperature of Season 5? Is it happier, is it less stressed than last season?
Well, I think … this is my first interview for Season 5, and I've never done them before without watching the new season right before. So I haven't seen any of [Season 5] yet. I know it's very unhelpful for an interview. But I know it felt different shooting it, and I hear that it looks different, maybe. But I think, yeah, it is different. A lot of new things are happening with Jackie, and we also have three new characters, to kind of add a little bit of new blood.
And what is happening with Dr. Cruz?
He definitely is going to be back. In a different position than he was in when we last saw him. I don't think Quantum Bay is in charge anymore. And so his relationship with Jackie is quite different than it was for most of Season 4.
Speaking of him, how tough was it, touching back on the Season 4 finale, to watch that scene being filmed with Cruz, and Charlie dying in the ER? Especially given that this father and son are being played by a real-life father and son in such a heartbreaking scene?
I know! It sounded awful. I remember when doing the table read, everyone was like, oh, ouch! And of course, when something happens in finale scenes like that, it always seems to end up being the kind of thing you shoot on late Friday/early Saturday morning at 2:30 AM. It's the last thing. Everybody wants to go home. It's the last day of work, and you're expected to lose your son or something. And that's exactly what happened, I remember. I didn't watch it being filmed, but I was there in the building, and I remember being glad I was not them having to film that scene.
And what is our dear Zoey up to this season?
Oh, Zoey. (Laughing) Zoey is just … she's found her voice in the hospital. She's confident that she belongs and everything. And she, at the beginning of the season, moves out of Jackie's apartment.
Aw, that's disappointing.
Yeah, yeah, no more of that. But it's time. I think that they both decide that it's for the best. Their relationship is probably strained from being in such close quarters. And they need a little bit more space. But it doesn't come from necessarily a fight or a bad place.
Do you agree that Zoey is the character who has evolved the most throughout the series?
You know, I don't know. I don't know about that. I definitely don't know about that, but one thing I kind of struggle with now in later seasons is what to do with Zoey, now that she's not a newbie. Because so much of her was defined by that, and all of the positions they put her in and the way that she interacted with all the characters, it was so much about her being young and new and unknowing. So it's difficult to decide where to go with her when she's not necessarily like that anymore. It's been a quandary for me.
What would you like to see happen with Zoey going forward, or how else would you like to see her evolve?
I don't know. I've always been the last … I don't know how to make those decisions. I've never been good at it, and if I came up with an idea, I'm positive that someone else could come up with a better one. (Laughing) I definitely know when something doesn't feel right. But I don't always know … even after five seasons, I'm still trying to figure out how she works.
How does Zoey remain so optimistic in the face of everything she sees at work, both in terms of the patients, and in terms of what happens with her co-workers, in their personal and professional lives?
That's a good question, but I'm trying to think right now about whether she stays optimistic this season, and I think that she does. I would be interested in seeing that challenged more. But I have a feeling it's something that's not uncommon. Even if it's not optimism, I think that the kind of energy you have to have to be able to do this job must mean that you're a pretty strong person. I mean, even -- I know it sounds weird to say -- but even Jackie has to have some optimism behind all her stuff. She wouldn't be able to go to work every day if she didn't think that what she was doing was helpful. So I don't know if that's optimism, but obviously Jackie hasn't stopped thinking that she can do good in the hospital.
You co-starred in Lena Dunham's movie "Tiny Furniture," and I keep waiting for you to pop up on "Girls" … any chance of that happening soon?
Oh, I would love to pop up on "Girls." But it's one of those things, you know, you don't do other [premium cable] network shows when you're on one. It's in the contracts and stuff. And I understand it, and where it comes from. But yes, I would love to be on the show at some point, if there was ever anything for me. I really, really like that show, and I have a feeling it's a great place to work. I'm a fan of Lena's. Did you see the ["One Man's Trash"] episode?
Yes. We think it's the best episode of the whole series so far.
Wasn't that amazing? I was so impressed and happy. It made me think of, like, "Louie" episodes and the feeling I had when I would watch some of those that really seemed to be bold or brave, that you could tell it was just coming completely from the mind of this one person, and I loved it. I really loved that episode.
OK, one more question, and this is an odd one. IMDb.com profiles often have some strange info, and there's a quote on yours that says you like to "eat steak, have a little wine, walk in the snow, and talk to Canadians." Which sounds like a perfectly lovely evening, but it's oddly specific.
(Laughing) Well, I do indeed like all of those things. I didn't write it. But I cannot say that I dislike any of those things. I will not fight that sentence.
"Nurse Jackie" Season 5 premieres April 14 on Showtime.
Other noteworthy new TV DVD releases:
"Gossip Girl: The Complete Series" (Warner Bros.)
Did you know that Lindsay Lohan -- the "Mean Girls"-era Lohan, of course -- was originally going to star in "Gossip Girl" when Cecily von Ziegesar's books were being adapted for a movie? It never happened, of course, and the books became this TV series instead. The series wrapped its six-season run in December, with the big reveal about the identity of the titular gossiper who'd shaken up the lives of the Upper East Siders these many years. No worry: No spoilers here in case you plan on catching up with the show in a marathon DVD viewing, but it was a surprise for many devoted fans. As for the box set, it includes all 121 episodes of the CW series, along with gag reels, deleted scenes, downloadable audiobooks, music videos, featurettes on the show's trademark fashions, an interactive map of "Gossip Girl" filming locations in New York City, cast interviews, and a pair of retrospective features tied to the series finale.
"Weeds: The Final Season, Season Eight" on Blu-ray (Lionsgate)
Primetime is a less kooky place now that pot maven Nancy Botwin and her brood have ridden off into the sunset, and this final season was no exception to their legacy of lunacy. Nancy and brother-in-law Andy (Emmy-deserving scene stealer Justin Kirk) finally addressed once and for all the sexual tension between them, while Nancy and son Silas found a way to make a legitimate living, sort of, with their marijuana knowledge. Friend Doug (a hilarious Kevin Nealon) and youngest son Shane (the very talented Alexander Gould) also had more than their fair share of funny and bizarre moments, and the DVD collection highlights them all, along with a gag reel, deleted scenes, cast interviews, audio commentaries, and an "Everyday Advice from Guru Doug" featurette.
"The Loretta Young Show: Best of the Complete Series, 100th Birthday Edition" (Timeless Media Group)
That mouthful of a title aside, this 17-disc set collects interviews with Young's children, her family's home movies, and a featurette with archival video of Young discussing her Hollywood career, which included Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe wins, along with episodes of her 1953-61 NBC anthology series. Young was a child actor who became a leading lady (she won a best-actress Oscar for "The Farmer's Daughter"), and then followed her big-screen career by becoming one of the first major stars to make the successful transition to TV. She is the first actress to win an Oscar and an Emmy, her first for Season 1 of "The Loretta Young Show," in which she told stories aimed at women, from heavy dramas and tragedies to lighter fare like romantic tales. As with most anthology series, stars you know from other movies and TV shows pepper the episodes, including Dennis Hopper, Ricardo Montalbán (Young's brother-in-law), Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton), Barbara Stanwyck, Hugh Beaumont (aka Ward Cleaver), Alan Hale Jr. (Gilligan's Skipper), "Happy Days" mom Marion Ross, "Days of Our Lives" star Susan Seaforth Hayes, and Cloris Leachman.
"Family Matters: The Complete Third Season" (Warner Bros.)
His alter ego, Stefan Urquelle, is still a couple of seasons away, but endearing geek Steve Urkel manages to cause all kinds of ruckus on his own in this season's 25 episodes, which find him playing Romeo opposite his beloved Laura's Juliet in a school play, taking Carl to court when Carl kills his prized bug, being a contestant on the teen dating show "Dudes," and creating the Urkelbot.
"Bonanza: The Official Complete Fifth Season" (Paramount)
Thirty-four episodes and guest appearances by Dennis Hopper and Marlo Thomas highlight this collection of the Emmy-winning classic western's 1963-64 season. One of the season's best installments: "Enter Thomas Bowers," in which the Cartwrights help an African American opera singer and former slave who encounters prejudice when he arrives in Virginia City to perform.
"Matlock: The Eighth Season" (Paramount)
The penultimate season (1993-94) of the Andy Griffith legal drama found his Ben Matlock investigating the murder of a community theater actress, recalling his first case (from 1962), and defending an aging comedian accused of murdering a young comic who had insulted him, with guest stars like Milton Berle, Rene Auberjonois, and "Breaking Bad" alum Jonathan Banks.
"Duck Dodgers: Dark Side of the Duck, Season One" (Warner Bros.)
Daffy Duck reprises his role from the classic Looney Tunes short "Duck Dodgers in the 24th 1/2 Century" -- Captain Duck Edgar Dumas Aloysius Dodgers -- and, along with sidekick Porky Pig, helps protect Earth from Martian invaders. Along with 13 very clever episodes, the two-disc set also includes Duck's infectious theme song, as performed by Tom Jones.
"Dora the Explorer: Dora's Butterfly Ball" (Nickelodeon)
The adorable Dora and her friends go to the titular Butterfly Ball, travel through famous paintings while helping pal Daniela finish a mural, and celebrate Dia de los Padres. Bonus: A Dora sticker sheet is a surprise treasure to be found inside the DVD case.
"The Hardy Boys: Season Three" (Shout! Factory)
Teen dreams Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson played amateur sleuth brothers Joe and Frank Hardy in this short-lived series featuring the characters from the young-adult book series. In this final season of the series, Joe goes undercover as a surfer to help solve the murder of his fiancée (really), the brothers go to London to find their MIA dad, the pair head to Greece to investigate a drug-smuggling ring, and -- no, really -- they have to find the missing daughter of a Russian official before the KGB locates her.