Nip/Tuck is the best first season of a television show I’ve ever
little background first. I’d seen the promos for this show, caught the little
mentions in the magazines, and heard a few friends and readers make comments
about it in passing but never formulated an opinion of it one way or another.
When the DVD arrived in my mailbox I fully intended to mail it off to one of our
illustrious reviewers but curiosity got the best of me. Three days later, I’d
ingested every episode and was firmly and wholly in love with the world of
Nip/Tuck. To make things even better, the makers had the good
sense to finish and release the first full season on the eve of the second
season’s arrival, a tactic most television shows don’t even try to
is Nip/Tuck so great? Read on…
brainchild of creator Ryan Murphy (also the name of a good friend of mine and
cousin of sometime CHUD.com contributor Steve Murphy), Nip/Tuck is
an adult soap opera about the world of plastic surgery and of human makeover
both physical and spiritual. When I say “adult” I don’t mean that it’s erotica
although the show does stretch the boundaries of television, I mean it’s
intelligent and abrasive and oftentimes quite moving. Regular soap operas, well…
they have their place I suppose but it’s no place I want to be. While the
proceedings on the show are often too convenient and outrageous to really take
place in the real world in such a compressed time period, this fairy tale has
ample juice to sustain itself and a really nice mean streak that keeps it from
being too much like its contemporaries (Six Feet Under, for
of the things that repelled me about the show was the lack of any major actors,
unless you consider Congo a major film. It usually takes either a
really memorable performer or creator to hook me, or a really amazing concept.
On the surface, this had neither. What ultimately sealed the deal were not only
the show’s incredible confidence and style but also its amazing willingness to
push as far as the limitations of television will allow and then give it another
nudge after that. Why settle for unflinching forensic shots of breasts, asses,
and faces being surgically altered when you can have a character get repeated
Botox (most vain drug ever) injections in the Johnson? Why just hint at a woman
with breast cancer scars when you can show it? Nothing is sacred in the world of
Nip/Tuck and it’s a beautiful thing.
"So that’s why
this is called a Dodge Ram!"
Sensationalism and shock tactics can only go so far, and thankfully the
real reason this show is a favorite is the work by the leading two actors. I’ve
seen Dylan Walsh in a handful of films before and found him incredibly bland and
forgettable, a fact that ends up making him perfect for his role as Sean
McNamara, the dependable and family values-centered half of the plastic surgeon
duo. He starts off the show being the rock, the human core to the madness but as
the season progresses and his life spirals out of control it’s a chance for the
unheralded actor to really strut his stuff. His arc has the most dramatic meat
as he deals with a failing marriage, an uncomfortable relationship with his son
(John Hensley, who IS an elf), a career that sometimes baffles him, and a
budding romance with a recent divorcee (Doc Hollywood’s Julie
Warner). It’s compelling stuff made increasingly better by the work of Walsh,
Hensley, and Warner as well as Joely Richardson as his troubled wife.
If my pants
are any indication, attempts to crossbreed Minnie Driver with hot Latin sex were
The other half of the mix is the real reason I love this
show. When looking at the box of the show, the name Julian McMahon did nothing
to inspire me to see the show. After seeing it, I have no doubts that he’s my
favorite Australian import in a long time and one of my favorite new faces
period. This guy literally rips the show away from his costars and the hosts of
sexy women and cool scenarios. He is alternately reptilian and vindictive,
seductive and impossible to ignore, and at times the only sane thing onscreen.
Imagine if Neil Labute were to craft a perfect amalgam of his vicious
protagonists played by Aaron Eckhart, Jason Patric, and even Rachel Weisz and
then invest more shading and depth and you’d have McMahon’s Christian Troy. He’s
not a brilliant surgeon, but a passable one. His strength lies in networking and
a complete dearth of ethics. He’ll seduce his way into more clients, lie, cheat,
and whatever else. He’ll ruin the good record of a reformed sexaholic. He’ll
dump a model like a bad habit once he gets what he needs. He’s a snake, but just
as Walsh’s character starts to lose his way, Troy begins to find his. Or so he
"Wait… Asian massage includes Ninja Assaults?"
Is Nip/Tuck a car crash? Is watching these
lives so horribly out of whack the real addictive crack rock at the center? Yes
and no. While there is a certain beauty to just how horrible things can get,
there’s more to the show than that. One episode alone brings that fact
resoundingly home, Adelle Coffin. It’s one of the most moving and brave
episodes of television I can remember and one that gives The West Wing’s
Two Cathedrals a run for its money. In the episode, the issue of suicide is
addressed in a mature and tasteful way and the show pulls off the rare feat of
not only making the idea feasible but almost beautiful in a way. I happened to
be watching the episode with my wife in the office and since she has not
invested in the previous nine hours of the show, she wasn’t taken by it. Funnily
enough, the suicide is a cancer patient (my wife is a cancer nurse
practicioner). That said, I was considerably shaken by it. The episode features
the most haunting and somehow hopeful usage of Elton John’s Rocket Man,
and I’ll never hear the song the same way again. That’s the power of a good
film, or in this case good television. It takes the familiar and bends it into
an amazing new shape. We’ve seen terminal disease before. We’ve seen death.
We’ve heard popular songs used as a crutch. This show takes all these familiar
elements and manages to massage it into something special.
"Do you smell
mask? Something smells like mask."
it boils down, it’s the way that Nip/Tuck does its business that
works for me. It’s heightened and far from realistic but its honest and it has
the balls to twist convention on its ear. There’s a paternity issue late in the
season that is resolved in a funny and refreshing way that kind of represents
that to me. In the same way that The Shield brilliantly takes the
boring police procedural and kicks it in the ass so goes
Nip/Tuck’s approach to medical drama.
publicity still for Mario Puzo’s The Blurfather.
is an incredible show that I fear can only get worse. This is damn near perfect
and the best show about transformation since Cybertron’s great
Julie could only be satiated by a nice rousing game of Hide and Go
9.3 out of 10
intense training and degree from the Drescher School of Botany, Lewis could not
get his customer to efficiently "talk to the hand".
Presented in a matted widescreen, the show looks lovely right down to the
last talking autopsy head. The show is set in the pastel trendy world of Miami’s
wealthy sector, so the show does showcase considerable pizzazz. Thankfully, the
transfer is gorgeous and offers no discernible artifacts (though I may have
spotted the Ark of the Covenant a few times). Everything comes through crisp as
a fresh head of lettuce and I was really surprised at how such a relatively low
profile show managed to get such a nice transfer when bigger Warner Bros. Titles
Either way, this is sharp.
9.0 out of 10
enjoyed working on the set of Hideo Nakata’s THX 1138 remake but
not as much as his time spent with the 22-inch Obsidian
with the video, the aural portion of the set is quite impressive. Though I could
go without hearing the show’s opening song for the rest of my life, there’s a
surprisingly solid 5.1 track on hand to allow for the screaming matches,
thudding bass of nightclubs, and whirring of medical drills to tickle your
eardrums. It comes through quite well, something not always evident in shows
though the trend seems to be catering more towards the HDTV and videophile crowd
each season. More and more shows seem to want to kick ass on all technical
levels both because of the incredible new hardware folks are watching TV with
and because the ancillary market of DVD has become so robust.
work, though not quite on par with a feature.
8.0 out of
what’s it like being bashed apart forever?" …. "An ironic query, Jakes."
Here’s where the trouble enters paradise. There’s not one commentary
track on this whole set. Not even one from the severed autopsy head. What gives?
There are some informative and moderately in-depth documentaries about the show,
the cast, and the makeup effects but none of them really drive home the smaller
and finer details. That’s where commentary shines, as an intimate audience with
the creators and stars. There’s really no substitute (except Treat Williams and
"It says here
that you’re suffering from flu-like symptons but have also noticed a slight
limp, is that right Mrs. O’Vanquished?"
are a few deleted scenes, something the menus and packaging highlight but
overall a neat curiosity but nothing that makes the show worth buying solely for
the special features. There are some rather considerable cuts, a rarity for
television, but still nothing transcendent.
addition there are a few outtakes and a music video for that title song I am
truly tired of. This could have whipped its competition if there were a few more
special features, but alas.
5.0 out of 10
out gorgeous. Aside from the Lenticular cover where a sexy female eye gets all
bandaged when you move the cover, the whole thing is elegant, simple, and clean.
That goes a long way as some boxed sets try to overdesign themselves and the
result is just plain busy. This is tasteful and classy.
course, if it were an autopsy head, it’d be a 10.
9.0 out of 10
THE FLICK: 9.3
THE LOOK: 9.0
THE NOISE: 8.0
THE ARTWORK: 9.0