Inside Pulse DVD Review – Nip/Tuck: The Complete Second Season

Creator:

Ryan Murphy

Cast:

Dylan Walsh……….Sean McNamara
Julian McMahon……….Christian Troy
Joely Richardson……….Julia McNamara
John Hensley……….Matt McNamara
Famke Janssen……….Ava Moore
Roma Maffia……….Liz Cruz
Vanessa Redgrave……….Erica Naughton
Kelly Carlson……….Kimber Henry
Jessalyn Gilsig……….Gina Russo
Kelsey Lynn Batelaan……….Annie McNamara
Ruth Williamson……….Mrs. Grubman
Joey Slotnick……….Dr. Bobolit

Warner Bros. Home Video in association with Ryan Murphy Productions and The Shephard/Robin Company present Nip/Tuck: The Complete Second Season. Total running time: 773 minutes. Not Rated.

The Show:

“Tell me what you don’t like about yourself?” A simple sentence. Eight little words. All the answers vary in delivery, because this question is raised inside the plastic surgery offices of McNamara/Troy. Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) are a dynamic duo of surgeons in Miami, Florida; and business has been booming ever since a rival doctor, Dr. Bobolit (Joey Slotnick), had an unfortunate accident while performing surgery on a rich heiress’s prize-winning dog.

On July 22, 2003, Nip/Tuck premiered on the FX Channel. By this time the executives at FX were on a natural high. The Shield had just finished its second season and the show had garnered a few Golden Globes and an Emmy award for Michael Chiklis. When the pilot episode for Nip/Tuck aired, it created another critical buzz. TV Guide was declaring it “the coolest show on TV.” Can’t fault them for that. It’s an over-the-top guilty pleasure.

Perhaps it’s because no subject is taboo. Despite Sean and his wife Julia (Joely Richardson) having martial problems, it is not the strangest thing on the show. Adultery and sexually explicit language and scenes pale in comparison to the “gross out factor” of the surgeries and the unique character-driven narratives. Over the course of the first season the McNamaras’ son Matt (John Hensley) attempts circumcision on himself; the two doctors get involved with a drug lord named Escobar; Matt participates in a hit-and-run accident that injures a classmate; and Gina (Jessalyn Gilsig), the sponsor from a Sexaholics group, and who Christian had a one-night stand with, finds out that she’s pregnant with Christian’s baby.

And these are situations that take place outside the operating room. Inside the OR the doctors remove a birthmark from a patient who may have sexually assaulted children, and perform surgeries on a transsexual and a woman with multiple personalities.

Having seen both seasons on FX, I can honestly say that season two is not the victim of a sophomore slump. In fact, these 16 episodes open up a whole new can of worms for Sean and Christian. For the first season, creator Ryan Murphy placed emphasis on how both men’s attitude towards their practice changed as they dealt with their own personal demons. During surgery, Sean and Christian work dutifully together to create art; but they are skilled workers whose personalities are polar opposites from one another. Sean is a dedicated family man – albeit for having an affair – with two children. Christian is an eligible bachelor who has an insatiable appetite for sex. His good looks and wealth are most advantageous in attaining his next sexual conquest. As for the practice they both have different beliefs. Christian is in the business of making money; Sean wants the patients to attain a new level of satisfaction with each procedure.

In the second season the two doctors have a total role reversal. Sean has just turned the big 4-0 and is going through a mid-life crisis. His face is weary, and he’s wondering if the best that life has to offer has slipped away. So when his best friend’s ex-lover Kimber comes into his life, how can Sean refuse?

Christian still embodies the adult child of season one. He’s cocky, arrogant and a sex fiend who’s had multiple partners. But when Gina gives birth to a son he knows isn’t his, Christian grows up a little. Sure, he’s still a little immature, but Christian’s interactions with young Wilbur makes him ponder about his absent father growing up.

As the season progresses a new character arrives on the scene that destroys everyone she encounters. Famke Janssen (Goldeneye) plays Ava Moore, a “life coach” who begins to have a dangerous liaison with Sean’s son. This leads to bombshell revelation, affecting the lives of Sean, Christian and Julia. And it is this type of shock and awe that attracted me to the show. The promos may advertise the show as a newfangled medical drama with an emphasis on plastic surgery, but who are they kidding? This is gut-wrenching television.

While definitely not a show for everyone, Nip/Tuck appeals to those who are sick and tired of reality TV and stale dramas. (ER ran its course a long time ago.) The success is in the writing. Ryan Murphy, the man who created the WB underrated dramedy Popular, gets a free pass on FX. Like Denis Leary’s Rescue Me, personal demons are allowed to bubble up to the surface. No pussyfooting around. While networks try to nurture and sustain shows for years and years, basic and premium channels think outside the box and push the envelope. Besides, no way the big four (ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX) would allow the scene where Christian gets his nose broken as a result of performing clitoral stimulation.

The second season of Nip/Tuck is something really special. The characters are deconstructed revealing layers we didn’t know existed. The lives and motivations of the three major players (Sean, Christian, and Julia) are explored in much detail. They drive each episode. It’s astonishing the stories that can be told with such a strong ensemble cast.

The greatest addition to the cast this season has to be Famke Janssen. She’s a femme fatale on the small screen. Cunning and mischievous, Ava Moore possesses an unmatched psychologically manipulative personality. In layman’s terms: she’s a psycho bitch. Put her in a battle of sexual wits with Christian, and surprisingly she intimidates him. Now that I think about it, if Ava wasn’t a life coach, she’d be sharing a room with Glen Close from Fatal Attraction.

Score: 9/10

The DVD:

VIDEO: How does it look?

Even though the show is presented in anamorphic widescreen measuring 1.85:1, the video quality is not up to par. The images are slightly grainy and dark and the colors do a disservice to the Miami setting. A washed out backdrop is never a pretty sight. Considering there are three episodes to a disc – except for disc six with only one episode – I am perturbed that most new shows look great on DVD while this hit FX channel show has to suffer with less-than-desirable video transfers.

Score: 6.5/10

AUDIO: How does it sound?

Nip/Tuck has only one audio option: Dolby Surround 2.0. Man, this show really deserves a 5.1 soundtrack. 2.0 is okay, but it is too pedestrian for this type of drama. You need a soundtrack that will make the earth shake. Just imagine the eloquent verses in “Perfect Lie” during the show’s opening credits. “Make me beautiful” undeniably. The DVD also has three subtitles options: English, French, and Spanish.

Score: 7/10

SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes and a featurette!

Like a botched facelift all I can say about the extras is “shoddy” attention to detail. It’s as if Sean and Christian sucked all the fat out of this release. The only supplemental material is 40-plus minutes of deleted scenes and a feature on three women who are in awe of Christian.

It’s not like the deleted scenes aren’t worth your time, because they are. The brains behind of this release should have incorporated the scenes in the episodes through a dual-branching setup like The Abyss: Special Edition and Terminator 2: Judgment Day – Ultimate Edition on DVD. Wishful thinking I suppose.

The featurette, Recurring Pain: Three Women and Their Man, runs close to nine minutes and takes a look at how the lives of three women – Kimber, Mrs. Grubman and Gina – have affected Dr. Christian Troy. The actresses appear as talking heads pointing out some poignant moments that happened between their characters and the good doc.

Score: 3/10