Warner Bros. // 2004 // 773 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Gutierrez (Retired) // October 15th, 2005
"Tell us what you don't like about yourself."
In its sophomore year, Nip/Tuck finds itself in the difficult position of trying to top over-the-top storylines from its first season. Now, with a greater understanding of its characters and situations, Nip/Tuck -- The Complete Second Season stretches suspension of disbelief and, occasionally, good taste.
Plastic surgeons Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh, Bloodwork) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon, Fantastic Four) are more than just business partners. They are brothers, rivals and reflections of what the other wants and could be. Julia (Joely Richardson, Event Horizon) may be married to Sean, but it's Christian she still pines over.
Continuing from last season, the outstanding question of Matt McNamara's (John Hensley, Witchblade) paternity is addressed. Christian tries his hand at being a father to someone else's child while Sean and Julia try to rebuild their marriage. In theory, it all sounds typical and soap operatic. In practice, it becomes a distracted mess with moments of sheer stupidity.
A warning to those reading on -- some spoilers follow.
It's no secret that the show's greatest strength lies in its actors. No one shows a breakdown like Walsh. Watching Sean's quick fall into despair is simultaneously engrossing and disturbing. Sean unravels quickly and big. When Sean decides to challenge his fear of death head on, he does so by foolishly endangering his own health and the health of his family. Depicted by anyone else but Walsh, I surmise it would have looked pathetic or boring. But Walsh brings the show some credibility. When the McNamara marriage fails, it feels like it's the viewer's relationship failing. Walsh and Richardson bring out the loving pain in their shared scenes. Richardson manages to bring life to an otherwise pathetic and tortured character. Julia's plight, like Sean's, is painful to watch, but it's impossible to look away. Add Christian's complex bout with aging, children, and self-loathing, and you have the makings of one of television's most developed characters. The rest of cast holds its own against the trinity of acting juggernauts, particularly Roma Maffia (Holes) as anesthesiologist Liz Cruz. She plays the show's conscience, so she's often ignored. Sadly, we never get to see enough of her.
Story-wise, this season progressed by taking the dangling paternity results from the previous season and turning them into a major arc. Sean's self-destruction and Christian's lessons in humility nicely buttressed the rest of the season. Even Matt's hit-and-run folly gets a revisit in a very bad, albeit brief, way. The year's best effort was Julia's near-death experience. Nip/Tuck always manages to do surreal very well. Unfortunately, the rest of the season did not fare so well.
All this season needs to kill itself is a musical episode. One storyline involves Christian falling for a blind woman (Rebecca Gayheart, Urban Legend). As nice as it was to see the Noxzema Girl back, she turns into a bad, bad joke. In one ludicrous product-placement scene, Gayheart jams out to XM Radio in Christian's car while two delinquents strip it. Gayheart's blindness becomes the butt of a second joke when Christian accuses her of mistaking his hallway closet for a bathroom.
The worst of it comes in the form of lifecoach Ava Moore (Famke Jansenn, X-Men). Ava's startling revelation at the season's close is ridiculous and sad. At the risk of spoiling it for potential viewers, her big moment is what as know as "the kitchen sink."
Spread out over six discs, Nip/Tuck -- The Complete Second Season, maintains a high DVD standard. The widescreen picture is near flawless, the only exceptions being a couple of grainy scenes. The sound mix brings the show to life, particularly when the much used music tracks begin. Also included is a healthy batch of deleted scenes and a featurette devoted to the women in Christian Troy's life. Sadly, Warner Brothers had decided against including any commentary tracks for the show.
Don't expect Shakespeare. Nip/Tuck is at its best when it motors off, never stopping to breath. It's a soap opera on speed, plain and simple. It's excessive, fantastic, and engaging. Once the first episode starts, it's near impossible to stop watching until the season's close. As crazy at it can get, it's fun to watch.
Nip/Tuck -- The Complete Second Season is no longer a cut above the rest. This show is in need of a serious dramatic facelift.
Nip/Tuck -- The Complete Second Season is hereby sentenced to probation and promise this court to improve.
Review content copyright © 2005 David Gutierrez; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 773 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted scenes
* "Recurring Pain: Three Women and Their Man" featurette
* Official Site
* DVD Verdict, Season One