Nip/Tuck: Season 5 Part 1 (DVD)
L.A. City of Angels. Tinseltown. La-La Land. The place thats made a bundle selling glamour, illusion and dreams the perfect place for the newly relocated plastic-surgery practice of McNamara/Troy. Its also the place for Lights! Camera! Scalpels! as Sean and Christian go from consulting on a TV drama about plastic surgery to being on-camera players (and rivals for stardom). Its the place for wavering Kimber to become porn again, for strung-out Matt to try to go straight, for Julia and Christian to rekindle a flame, for all the personal and professional entanglements that are McNamara/Troy. And its the place for skilled surgical procedures some silly, some heartrendingly serious. Welcome to L.A.!
With its fifth season, Nip/Tuck slips the surly bonds of drama and enters a state of quasi-camp, which proves eminently appropriate for its mix of lurid melodrama and operating room theatrics. Four seasons of murder, adultery, serial killer hijinks and other over-the-top plot points precipitated the tone shift, which was cemented by the relocation of Troy/McNamara and staff to sunny Los Angeles; things turn immediately off-kilter as both docs become consultants to a prime-time sudser called Hearts 'n' Scalples. The boys go off their own respective deep ends as well, with Sean (Dylan Walsh) blossoming into a TV star and indulging in an affair with the teenage daughter of Julia's (Joely Richardson) lover (Portia de Rossi), and Christian (Julian McMahon) hitting new lows at every turn, including a layout for Playgirl and a turn as an escort. Along the way, there are encounters with a doctor (George Coe) who believes he's carrying an extraterrestrial implant; dueling Marilyn Monroe impersonators, a society matron who wishes to resemble a cat, and the return of Rosie O'Donnell's Dawn Budge, who endures a mauling by eagle while hang-gliding, assault by a sex maniac with a particular fetish, and vehicular assault by a lesbian biker. That's just the first 14 episodes.
Despite the dips into Dynasty territory, Nip/Tuck remains anchored by its solid cast, with both McMahon and Walsh turning in straight-faced and sincere performances; they're well-abetted by Richardson (returning to the show after her departure in Season 4) and a solid guest cast, including de Rossi, Sharon Gless as Sean's agent, and John Schneider as an oily porn producer. They and other guests make up for the show's shortcomings, which unfortunately mount as the season progresses. One wonders whither Nip/Tuck from here, but not without a little wince. Extras are relegated to a brief introduction to the new season, a smattering of deleted scenes on Disc Three, and the by-now standard gag reel. --Paul Gaita