Nip/Tuck: The Complete Fourth Season – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Created by
Ryan Murphy

Cast:
Dylan Walsh … Dr. Sean McNamara
Julian McMahon … Dr. Christian Troy
Joely Richardson … Julia McNamara
John Hensley … Matt McNamara
Roma Maffia … Dr. Liz Cruz
Linda Klein … Nurse Linda
Kelly Carlson … Kimber Henry
Kelsey Batelaan … Annie McNamara
Jessalyn Gilsig … Gina Russo
Sanaa Lathan … Michelle Landau
Robert LaSardo … Escobar Gallardo
Vanessa Redgrave … Dr. Erica Noughton
Peter Dinklage … Marlowe Sawyer
Jacqueline Bisset … James LeBeau
Joey Slotnick … Dr. Merril Bobolit
Ruth Williamson … Hedda Grubman
Larry Hagman … Burt Landau
Brooke Shields … Faith Wolper
Alanis Morissette … Poppy
Rosie O’Donnell … Dawn Budge
Catherine Deneuve … Diana Lubey


The Show:

Following in the footsteps of a tradition of Night Time Soap Operas like Dallas and Dynasty, Nip/Tuck is a show that revels in its most melodramatic indulgence. This is a series that doesn’t shy away from ridiculous storylines and outrageous sex scenes, and yet what has always set the show apart from others of its ilk is its ability to show real human drama underneath all of the gloss. The series dynamic of showing how ugly the lives of our two favorite plastic surgeons and their patients are, even after making their bodies beautiful is a formula that is still going strong, and makes this series one that somehow manages to be one to identify with, even as it goes nuclear with its ridiculousness.

The problem with the series’ 3rd season was its inability to really bring forth those human undercurrents as the show’s “Carver” storyline ravaged its characters. Thankfully, Season 4 brings a return to form for the series and shows why we fell in love with Nip/Tuck in the first place. Of course, the series wouldn’t work without personal turmoil, and the fallout from Season 3 has the cast of characters going through all sorts of crises. One of the two biggest storylines running through the season has to do with the birth of a new child by reunited couple Sean and Julia McNamara (Dylan Walsh and Joely Richardson). Complications with the birth open up a plethora of wounds for the couple, as well as destabilize a family that is already on rocky ground, with wayward son Matt (John Hensley) trying desperately to find himself after nearly committing murder in the previous season.

The other big storyline involves a criminal ring of organ harvesters, introducing this season’s main heavy, the mysterious James (Jacqueline Bisset). After the two dimensional hogwash of last year’s villain, James is a breath of fresh air. Bisset is incredible, bringing depth to a character that could have just been a run of the mill series villain. Instead, we get a wide variance from this character, showing us just how evil and yet pitiful this person can be. Bisset is a terrific addition to this cast and brings real menace to this show, which desperately needed to distance itself from the theatrics of the last season.

Also a welcome addition was Sanaa Lathan as a new love interest for Julian McMahon’s Dr. Christian Troy. As Michelle Landau, the wife of a millionaire who buys out McNamara/Troy, Lathan gives us a nice break from the Christian/Kimber (Kelly Carlson) shenanigans that have been going on since this first season of this show. Better yet, Lathan brings a terrific emotional intensity to her scenes and has a good chemistry with McMahon. I especially like the plotline involving her connection to James which builds nicely throughout the season to an exciting and excruciating conclusion.

Julian McMahon does some of his best work during this season, as we get a good look at the vulnerability of Christian Troy, whether we’re looking at the nature of his relationship with his partner and best friend Sean or as he tries to explore different facets of fatherhood, and his own empty lifestyle. Christian’s boisterous, sex-starved antics are as lively as ever, but when we find a real soul underneath all of his glamour, Christian easily becomes the favorite character on Nip/Tuck. It’s because we love Christian that we can put up with the moments when he seems like a monster.

Shouldering the harder character to portray is Dylan Walsh as Sean McNamara. Sean in the past was usually the sturdier everyman, the character it was easy to identify with, but here we get to see some of Sean’s dark side. As his marriage tries to literally weather storms this season, Sean has to deal with the consequences of infidelity as well as his own insecurities with having such a monumentally successful best friend. As Christian’s life seems to be coming to together, Sean is grasping to keep his afloat and that change is an unexplored area for this show and brings an unexpected profundity to the series.

Season 4 is also packed with guest stars, as in addition to Lathan and Bisset we also get Larry Hagman, Alanis Morissette, Rosie O’Donnell, Richard Chamberlain, Peter Dinklage, and the eternally lovely Catherine Deneuve. Best of all, each star is well placed in the series, never becoming a distraction. Each insertion is a natural fit, especially those of Dinklage, Rosie O’Donnell, and Catherine Deneuve who bring real heart and emotion to their roles, which are especially touching. O’Donnell is a complete surprise as to just how entertaining her episodes are and actually is responsible for one of the most poignant moments of the year.

Now I will say that the beginning of the season started out kind of rocky, and it’s easy to wonder if Nip/Tuck had already “jumped the shark”, especially with the Hand that Rocks the Cradle overtones that go on in early episodes. Still, once the show hits its stride, it’s hard to deny just how addictive this season really gets. The last two episodes are filled with tension, and you really get to the core of the reasons we keep coming back to a show with a lot of ugliness within it. Smart writing even allows for a little nostalgia, as a storyline from the first season finally comes full circle and ends on a very satisfying note.

One of the best examples as to how good this show was this year was in the episode,”Conor McNamara, 2026″, which actually take place 20 years in the future and tells much of its story through flashbacks. While the episode gets very silly, there’s a point where the installment becomes the most involving of the year, and through all the goofy makeup we still see real warmth and faults with these people. While most shows would flounder with an installment like this one Nip/Tuck allows it to play to its strengths, and manages to show just how far its actors will go to entertain its audience.

Overall, the fourth season of Nip/Tuck ends up being more than just a guilty pleasure. The series reaches new highs in many areas and manages to successfully set up the next year without stretching its boundaries too far. While this season may not match the glories of it first two years, it’s certainly a step up from Season 3 and is well worth the time for fans of the show.


The DVD:

The Video
The series looks pretty good on this DVD, but not sparkling, you can see how the color wash out just a little bit on this transfer, though if you’re not really paying attention, you probably won’t notice. The Show is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

The Audio
The Audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is very good. The soundscape on this show is very dynamic, and is presented nearly flawlessly on this transfer.


SPECIAL FEATURES:

The Cutting Edge – This Featurette is a terrific look at the surgery sequences on this show, which can be equally fascinating and repulsive. The series’ technical advisors as well as real life surgeons are interviewed, talking about the show’s accuracy, as well as how well the show stays on top of medical breakthroughs. This Featurette goes about 9:30.

Clever Casting – This Featurette goes about 13 minutes and covers the multitude of guest stars this season. The producers seem bewildered that so many guest stars wanted to be on the series this season, but as I said before, each of them are found nice supporting roles that manage to help this season instead of becoming distractions.

Sizzle РThis one looks at the sex scenes on the show and features sex experts as well as the cast and crew talking about how risqu̩ the series can get.

Deleted Scenes – A good portion of deleted scenes can be found here, and some are really quite good, especially one for the episode “Conor McNamara, 2026” where Julia and Christian share a tender moment.

Gag Reel – This is only two minutes, but shows just how hilarious Julian McMahon must be on this set.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Nip/Tuck – The Complete Fourth Season
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE SHOW

8.5
THE VIDEO

8
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

5.5
REPLAY VALUE

9
OVERALL
8
(NOT AN AVERAGE)