50 David Foster Wallace, Matt Wagner
50 Red Hot Chili Peppers
TV NIP/TUCK Channel 4, Wed 1 1 Aug, 10pm 0000
‘ T ell me what you don‘t like about yourself,‘ say the
good doctors of McNamara-Troy plastic surgeons.
Faced with such a question, most of us would reply:
“How long have you got?’ But the transitory characters in this US drama invariably have a good storyline tucked up their sleeve. Nip/Tuck ranges from the tragic (a breast cancer patient who wants to feel like a woman again) to the dangerous (3 Cuban drug-runner caught with the boss’ daughter and now needs a new face) and on to the comical (a wealthy widow who wants her 70-year-old vagina tightened to please her new husband).
But like most of its patients, Nip/ Tuck suffers from something of an identity crisis. On the one hand, it’s Miami Vice with surgery. Beautiful Florida sunshine, tanned faces, white teeth, fast cars and lots of sex; most of which comes courtesy of Christian Troy. On the other, it’s a serious drama trapped in superficiality. Stumbling from gratuitous orgies and rides on Christian’s penis-extension sea vessel, ‘The Boatox’, to painful storylines about child abuse and miscarriage, Nip/Tuck tries hard to keep up with the more heavyweight HBO-style dramas. And we try hard to treat it as one.
But while programmes such as Six Feet Under or The Sopranos carry none of the guilt usually associated with TV
viewing (that deep-rooted
feeling that you should be
l' ° llif , th th
$2332.23: aniline? .512. SLIT OPEN As
I I- ° h'
short of the mark. Instead
we get that Big Brother- EYELIDS ARE SLICED AND PEELED; EXCESS FAT
esque guilty pleasure, knowing that it’s not the best use of our time, but loving it anyway.
Where Nip/Tuck really succeeds is by throwing us curveballs when we least expect it. It takes us for a ride on a frivolous wave, only to drag us under with murder, stalking, infidelity and corruption; or from the unblemished glamour of Christian’s latest conquest to the unremitting gore of the operating table. Viewed by anyone with an ounce of squeamishness from behind several well-placed fingers, the McNamara-Troy handiwork takes no prisoners. Bottoms are slit open as implants slide in; eyelids are sliced and peeled; excess fat siphoned out. And the male fraternity may want to avoid transsexual Sophia Lopez’s final journey from man to woman. But whatever your views on plastic surgery, the show neither promotes nor decries it, but simply says that it has the potential to do good and bad in equal measure.
Ultimately, what elevates Nip/Tuck from shows such as The CC is the acting. The marital discord of Sean and Julia McNamara (Dylan Walsh and an accent-perfect Joer
53 DRIV3R, Athens 2000
53 Gods and Generals, Gettysburg
Richardson) tugs surprisingly hard at the heartstrings, as does the anguish of their teenage son, Matt (John Hensley). And although much of the drama created by Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) takes place in the bedroom, his need for a family and unspoken love for Julia is genuinely touching. McMahon himself has taken on the role of show sex symbol with aplomb, acting as the perfect advertisement for the McNamara—Troy industry; not that Dannii Minogue’s ex- husband needs much in the way of surgery.
The Nip/Tuck producers have sent their programme out
with the tagline: ‘A disturbingly perfect drama.’ It’s not. But in
much the same way as Sean’s unflinching scalpel, it gets under your skin within seconds. And by the end of season one, like plastic surgery itself, it’s become horribly addictive. (Kelly Apter)
0”” Excellent 00.. Recommended 000 Good
54 Six Feet Under
55 Notre Dame
t ,' ‘.'
Addictive plastic surgery from Sean Macnamara (Dylan Walsh, above right and top left) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon)
’\...: .2 THE LIST 49