Nip/Tuck gets new LA start

A couple of nights ago, I convened a focus group of four – myself, my sister and two friends – to watch the first two episodes of season five of FX’s plastic surgery hyper-soap Nip/Tuck. The verdict: they all LOVED it; I HATED it. So take what follows with the proverbial grain of salt.

I initially was a huge Nip/Tuck fan — although I have always kept my eyes squeezed tightly shut during all the graphic surgery scenes, even though I am well aware that they are very fake – entirely because of Julian McMahon. And this because of, not in spite of, his turn on The WB’s Charmed, although it definitely is in spite of his part as Dr. Doom on the horrible Fantastic Four franchise.

Don’t get me wrong, I still find Mr. McMahon extremely appealing as an actor (Ok, I really mean smokin’ hot) and apparently so does my focus group of four. That said, his part on Nip/Tuck, and actually the show itself, long ago lost all relation to reality.

When season five opens, here’s what’s happening: Drs. Sean McNamara (Dylan) and Christian Troy (McMahon) have left South Beach and moved to LA, where they hope to reinvent themselves using the apparently huge amount of money that Christian won in a lawsuit against his former finance, Michelle (Sanaa Lathan). The two are living together in Christian’s “Malibu compound,” raising Christian’s “son,” three-year-old Wilbur, who isn’t really his son but actually a child born after one of Christian’s sex addict girlfriends got pregnant, claimed it was his, but then realized upon delivery that Wilbur was actually the son of an older black man with whom she had also been sleeping. Those crazy sex addicts!

Anyway, Sean, Christian and Wilbur are all living there in Malibu like one big happy family, which is what Sean and Christian should be doing anyway. Those two should have declared the love that dare not speak its name to each other about four seasons ago.

Meanwhile, Sean’s ex-wife, Julia (Joely Richardson), has relocated to New York City where she’s moving in with her new lover. I won’t spoil the surprise here, but I’m sure it’s easily discovered on the Internet. And Sean/Christian’s son (Sean’s by parenting, Christian’s by DNA) has married Kimber (Kelly Carlson), an ex-model/actress/porn star/Scientologist and the ex-girlfriend of both Christian and Sean, Matt’s fathers. Matt and Kimber are expecting a baby. Of course!

Sean and Christian get off to a slow start in plastic-surgeon packed Los Angeles, but they are soon redeemed due to a sharky publicist (Lauren Hutton, in a part that must have been a blast to play) and exposure on what would be the worst show ever on television if it were real. It’s called Hearts and Scalpels, in which doctors operate without masks, caps, gloves or occasionally, clothes, and all the nurses wear deeply low-cut scrubs and push-up bras, so everywhere the camera turns, there’s a pair of boobs to greet you.

In one episode, the doctors tell the showrunner (Oliver Platt, playing a washed-up gay producer with some aplomb) about a case they had that required a, um, lip transplant, and then the show takes that storyline and runs it out as far as it possibly can and then a little further. (Just a note, watching Jennifer Coolidge with those lips was horrible TV torture, but I suspect EP Ryan Murphy thought it was gut-wrenchingly funny.)

Basically, Nip/Tuck has become a parody of itself, which is like a weird flip of the space/time continuum or something, because the show already was a parody of itself. Or it was at least a parody of something. Or it better have been because otherwise it’s just simply been completely ludicrous for all this time.

The fifth season of Nip/Tuck premieres on FX at 10 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.