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Nip/Tuck - Season 2 review (18)



Review: Jack Foley

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: None listed

FEW programmes set out to shock quite so deliberately as Nip/Tuck, yet for all of its hedonistic excess, there is a great deal of substance too.

The show falls into that rare category of not being afraid to confront difficult, even taboo, issues in a grown-up, unflinching manner that almost always takes the breath away.

Its excess is epitomised in the graphic nature of many of the plastic surgery operations it depicts, yet it has a sensitive side as well which makes for compelling viewing.

Season one set the standard but season two matches it in almost every department.

The series focuses on the lives of plastic surgeons, Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon), as they look to create plush lives for themselves among high-society Miami, while confronting their own personal demons.

Season two picks up as Christian, the bad boy of the two, is having to deal with fatherhood, even though the child in question is not his; while Sean, the calmer, more reflective partner, has to cope with the arrival of his wife, Julia's (Joely Richardson) mother coming to stay (played by Vanessa Redgrave).

Each episode incorporates at least one plastic surgery, thereby allowing the show to explore some of the issues surrounding the world's current lust for beauty at any cost.

Part of Nip/Tuck's allure is the way in which it confronts difficult issues in a challenging and frequently amusing fashion.

It walks right up to the bad taste line and occasionally tip-toes over it, yet always knows when to come back with a hard-hitting shock.

Hence, an episode about the rebuilding of a woman's clitoris after she had been forced to endure a female circumcision as a child may include hysterial one-liners such as 'if I build it, she will cum', but it is offset by some of the more poignant moments later on.

Likewise, most, if not all of the central characters, can be unsympathetic at times, even if viewers continue to root for them in the end.

Series two was also notable for the presence of former Bond girl, Famke Janssen, who played a predatory life coach who embarks on an affair with Julia's son.

This, while frowned upon by the adults, eventually leads to the truth being exposed about Julia's son's true father.

The revelation and fall-out in question came in the series highlight, Agatha Ripp, about a patient who claims to be suffering the stigmata - neatly contrasting Sean's loss of faith in his family and friends with the religious issues surrounding Agatha's claims.

It remained one of the most powerful, thought-provoking and emotionally engaging episodes of the series.

Yet series two also finished with a flourish, not least because of the presence of a serial rapist known as The Carver, who comes to target Sean for providing corrective surgery to the victims he disfigures on a pro bono basis.

The story arc contributes to the shock ending, in which one of the two surgeons looks to have become The Carver's latest victim.

It's reassuring to know, given the open-ending, that a further two seasons have been commissioned, thereby ensuring that a series of the quality of Nip/Tuck will remain with us for a few more years yet.

It really is outstanding viewing for those who like to be challenged (and possess strong stomachs).

 

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