Warner Bros. // 2006 // 713 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // December 1st, 2007
Make me beautiful.
I have a feeling that there are three primary segments of the population reading this review. The first group wants to know if anything major has changed in the show to make it more palatable, like maybe Dr. Troy becoming a minister while Dr. McNamara joins Doctors Without Borders. The second group felt disappointed by Season Three and/or the Carver storyline and wants to know if Season Four gets better. The third group are diehard fans of the show and all its seasons but want to know if the technical presentation has improved over the previous season releases. The answer to the first group is no, the series hasn't changed. There are still scantily clad men and women, gruesome surgeries, and the blackest humor this side of the gallows. For the third group, the short answer is no, not really. The technical presentation is adequate, but fans want better. The rest of this review is really aimed at that second group.
There are spoilers ahead.
Season Four begins where Season Three left off: business is booming, Sean (Dylan Walsh) and Julia (Joely Richardson, Return to Me are (tentatively) back together with a baby on the way, Christian (Julian McMahon) is still alone after Kimber's (Kelly Carlson, The Marine) depature, and Matt (John Hensley) is still dealing with the fallout of his relationship with Ariel. The first episode of the season does an excellent job setting up the template for the rest of the season. With Christian unable to commit to an adult relationship, his therapist thinks he needs to examine his love for Sean. Meanwhile, Sean and Julia discover that their son is going to be born with a birth defect that will fuse his fingers together. At the office, One of their patients, a businessman who specializes in managing medical practices, offers to buy a majority share in McNamara/Troy. This move would leave Sean and Christian with more time and money, but with oversight by his beautiful wife, Michelle (Sanaa Lathan, Blade). The main storyline develops as Christian becomes more involved with Michelle, and we discover more about her past.
Warner Brothers presents the season's entire run of 15 episodes across five discs.
I wasn't a big fan of Season Three, or the Carver storyline. Something about Quentin's character never sat well with me, and the drama dragged on so long that by the time the killer was revealed, I no longer cared. The supporting storylines, like Matt's relationship with Ariel and the opening of the spa didn't grab me either, leaving me with an ambivalent feeling about the season. I didn't hate it, as the characters were interesting even if the story wasn't, but I didn't love it like I did Season One. Sadly, Seaon Four's main storyline leaves me feeling about as cold as the Carver did. Michelle is ably played, but her character just isn't compelling enough for me. If her backstory had only constituted one or two episodes, I would have appreciated her much more. Instead, her past comes back to haunt her over and over again, slowly leeching the drama out of an initially interesting idea.
Season Four, however, bests its immediate predecessor by providing more interesting subplots to supplement the main story. Giving a handicapped son to a plastic surgeon was a stroke of genius, providing opportunites for both drama and character development. It also opens the door for one of the better aspects of the fourth season: Marlowe. As a dwarf and a nanny, Marlowe has the decked stacked against him, but Peter Dinklage keeps his character from being freakish or melodramatic. Instead, he provides a much needed voice of reason in the McNamara household. Watching his relationship to the other characters unfold was a joy. Also worth noting is Matt's increasing involvement with Scientology and Kimber. The former provides much drama, and the latter, while less satisfying, is still an interesting place for his character to go.
It's very easy to laud the acting of the principles (Julian McMahon, Dylan Walsh, and Joely Richardson), and I certainly do. This season, however, also featured some stand-out performances from some of the other actors as well. John Hensley made Matt's transformation to Scientologist seem natural and believable, and he adopts their jargon without batting an eye. Personally, I can't say "thetan" without giggling. Peter Dinklage, as I mentioned, is perfect as Marlowe, and I hope they find a way to keep using him. Roma Maffia is also given a chance to shine a couple of times this season, as victim and patient. The guest stars also deserve a nod, especially Jacqueline Bisset, Alanis Morrisette, and Rosie O'Donnell, with the latter two providing two of the more satisfying subplots of this season.
For a show which focuses this much on the superficial, one wishes the DVD had more shine. The video transfers are acceptable, but grain is often distractingly visible. The audio mix is likewise adequete, presenting a balanced mix of sound with the dialogue easily audible. It's a little better than the previous seasons of the show that I've seen on DVD, but I still want the presentation to wow me, which it sadly doesn't.
The extras are on par with previous seasons as well, with a few minor featurettes and some deleted scenes. Kudos to Warner Bros. for putting the deleted scenes on the same disc as the episode they were taken from, rather than as a single group on the final disc. The scenes range from "I wish they'd have put that in the show" to "why did they even film that" in quality, and while they don't offer that much in the way of development, they're nice to have. The featurette "Clever Casting" includes talking head bits from the casting directors, guest stars, and most of the principles behind Nip/Tuck. It's a bit on the EPK side, but buried beneath the gushing about how talented some of the guests are, there were some good stories about how inviduals were brought on the show. The featurette "Sizzle: The Sexuality of Nip/Tuck" is pretty light stuff, seeming like an excuse to string together all the sex scenes from the season with some pro-sex comments from a sexologist, as well as some thoughts from the creative team. The final featurette -- "The Cutting Edge" -- focuses on the show's surgeries, pointing out some of the real-life medicine that was used as inspiration. Finally, a gag reel is included, showing the sillier side of the show.
Warner Bros. loses serious points for including major spoilers in the disc menus. A clip from almost every significant plot point in the season gets shown in a loop on the menu of each disc. The preview for season 5 that opens the fifth disc also spoils the the ending of the last episode of the season. I don't have hard numbers, but I'm guessing that there are enough people out there like me who get their TV on DVD to make it inexcusable for the studio to spoil so much without warning.
If you have a mind to be offened, this show will provide something to offend you. If you want your dark comedy omelette with no broken eggs, look elsewhere. This review has been mostly positive because I find the show fascinating in a car-wreck sort of way. To play devil's advocate, the show might easily be considered the most melodramatic and ridiculous hour of drama on television, with a bunch of beautiful, rich people whining about how hard their lives are. But if you've made it as far as Season Four, you know what to expect.
While I wasn't a fan of the main story line for this season, there were enough other interesting subplots going on to make this my vote for best season since the first. Warner's presentation of the show won't win in any beauty pagents, but it gets the job done.
The show is found not guilty, and Warner Bros. is put on probation for their treatment of the show on DVD.
Review content copyright © 2007 Gordon Sullivan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 713 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "Cutting Room Floor" Unaired Scenes
* "Clever Casting" Featurette
* "Cutting Edge" Featurette
* "Sizzle: The Sexuality of Nip/Tuck" Featurette
* Gag Reel
* Official Site
* Season 1 Review
* Season 2 Review
* Season 3 Review