As of last December, fans of television’s most “cutting”-edge medical drama, FX’s “Nip/Tuck,” were left to wonder if Drs. Sean McNamara and Christian Troy would return to the screen. Fortunately, they returned triumphantly Tuesday, in a new location. The team is seen relocating their practice from the sun-drenched locales of Miami to the plastic surgery capital of the world — Hollywood.
This cross-country move may have left longtime fans of “Nip/Tuck” apprehensive, but the setting change has revitalized the series. The fifth season’s premiere episode, “Carly Summers,” works the glamour of Beverly Hills and the “image-is-everything” philosophy of Hollywood into the show’s famously outrageous plot trends, trading shocking drama for equally shocking humor.
Knowing how and when to test boundaries has always been one of the FX series’ highlights, and this time around “Nip/Tuck” has a few new talented actors to assist in the operation.
Oliver Platt (“The Ten”) joins the cast as an overstressed, overweight television director who recruits the doctors to add realism to his medical program about the love lives of plastic surgeons, colorfully called “Hearts & Scalpels.” Show creator Ryan Murphy and his cast of skilled writers are apparently just as good at making fun of themselves as they are at satirizing Hollywood. Bradley Cooper of “Wedding Crashers” fame is introduced with Platt as Aiden Stone, a narcissistic and immature actor whose good looks draw the female audience to “Hearts & Scalpels.” Lauren Hutton plays a publicist hired to make Christian (Julian McMahon) and Sean (Dylan Walsh) famous in cold-hearted splendor, and — perhaps in the most entertaining new role — Mistress Dark Pain (Tia Carrere) works her dominatrix charms on one of the doctors’ new patients.
Using the series’ cross-country leap as an opportunity to rehash the roles of its existing characters, “Nip/Tuck” quickly incorporates the challenge of Hollywood into the lives of Christian and Sean. Having been placed in a city where selling the talents of plastic surgeons initially is — as Christian puts it — “like selling semen at a whorehouse,” they quickly realize their Miami notoriety isn’t going to get them anywhere in Los Angeles. An empty clinic and failed attempts to get exposure on their own prompt Sean and Christian to seek desperate measures.
With the help of their publicist, the pair joins the ranks of “Hearts & Scalpels,” and then find Christian is no longer the face of McNamara and Troy. Both surgeons sit in on an episode of “Hearts” based on one of their second-season cases, “Pussylips,” in which they fixed a burn victim’s lips with a graft from her genitals (and the always entertaining Jennifer Coolidge guests as the clueless actress casted to play the lucky patient). Unfortunately for Christian, Sean gets all the attention and fame, and the pair’s playboy is no longer the center of attention. However, Christian’s shocking actions at the end of the premiere suggest this won’t be the case for long.
The newest season of “Nip/Tuck” has everything fans have come to expect from the series, while embracing a comedic and irreverent Hollywood critiquing tone. The series’ leads are just as entertaining as in the past, and the premiere brings new characters to the show that promise to be refreshing. The doctors may have moved to a whole new setting, but the writer’s scalpels haven’t “cut out” the excess and spectacle that make the show great.