This is an interesting concept. The character of Big Nurse in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was a control freak who couldn’t tolerate a free spirit like Randle McMurphy, and eventually has him lobotomized. This series tells the story of her early days, in 1947, and reveals that she is not actually a nurse at all, having lied about her credentials. Not that it matters; she actually did serve in the Pacific, where she put some soldiers out of their agony. She comes to a deluxe looney bin on the California coast that is run by Nurse Bucket (Judy Davis, pretty looney herself) and a Filipino doctor who wants to try out new therapies, including a lot of lobotomies performed with an ice pick. Ratched is there to rescue her brother, who is under review to see if he can be executed by the bloody-minded governor (Vincent D’Onofrio) for the savage murder of four Catholic priests.
It looks ravishing, with colorful and inventive sets, and it gets off to a good, weird start, and carries on like that for a while, but by the time we got to the end it all felt like it had lost focus, wandered all over the place, and in the end was unsatisfying. The ending was left wide open for a second season. I doubt if I’ll watch it.