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Nip/Tuck – Recap & Review – Don Hoberman

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photo: fx

Nip/Tuck
Don Hoberman

Original Air Date: Oct 14, 2009

Tom R. – Sr. Staff Writer
tom@thetwocents.com

Dear Mr. Murphy:

Congratulations on the success of GLEE. We are all very proud that it’s become such a phenomenon. But please, we beg you, don’t neglect your “other” show.

I’ll start with the positive notes, most of which come from the divorce proceedings between Liz and Christian, who waited until after the honeymoon to break the news about the cancer mix-up. While Christian is represented by Wayne “Hello, Newman” Knight, Liz had enlisted the services of superstar litigator Roger Payne (Barry “Massapequa” Bostwick). Payne is blind, but as Christian’s attorney points out, “So is Justice.”

Liz holds all the cards, since Christian put everything in her name, thinking he wouldn’t survive the honeymoon. He approaches Payne ex parte, hoping to sway him privately. Payne decides that if he humiliates himself professionally, Christian has to do it personally (quid pro quo). He asks Christian to pleasure himself, describing exactly what he’s doing and feeling at each point. He’s aware of all Christian’s bluffing, and the entire session is really nothing more than an exercise in leverage. It’s the kind of character that we’ve seen before, but the blind voyeur angle does provide a nice twist.

The episode is framed by a narration by Linda Hunt (Silverado) that traces America’s spending on luxury items, which parallels the rise and current decline of McNamara/Troy. In the face of a down economy, Sean and Christian find that people are less willing to go under the knife. As the practice goes into financial turmoil, Christian, Teddy and Matt continue to tap Sean’s dwindling cash flow, leaving him with chronic insomnia. To supplement their income, they bring in Miami surgeon Mike Hanoui (Mario Lopez), a “pod surgeon” who gives them 10% of his revenue from his niche market, vaginal reconstructions.

At first, the narration provides an interesting “storybook” tone, but the more it’s used, the more intrusive and confusing it becomes. The references to the practice turn out to be Sean’s late night imagination, but even that’s not clear. It takes the easy way out, making it feel like one of the recap episodes run by Lost. The sheer amount of exposition does nothing but drain the momentum.

Matt decides to become a mime (Yes, you read that right…white face, striped shirt, French music). He sets up on Venice Beach, where he has to contend with bikes, dogs, thieves and an uncooperative music system. He is about to be evicted by Christian, but all he can get for a day’s work is one dollar from a child. Attempting to buy a coffee, he has a silent altercation with the cashier and ends up robbing the place without a word, waving his fake pistol.

The major issue with the episode is the suddenness of so many things. We don’t understand Matt’s fascination with mime, because we never see him fall in love with the craft. His line about “the pure language of gesture” falls flat without any kind of setup. So does the scene where he breaks the news to Sean and Christian. Christian has asked Liz to move out, but we don’t see any of the moments where he decides not to say anything. Kimber is suddenly an aesthetician, but we don’t see any of it unfold. We don’t get to see her make the decision to change her life; we don’t see her wrestling with the prospect of seeing Christian every day. What could be important points come off as WTF moments. Only Teddy’s proposal (Rose McGowan! Yay!) and Sean’s potential overdose of sleeping pills manage to register emotion.

With all its successes, with all its innovation, Nip/Tuck has a nasty habit of putting up a disappointing episode at the wrong time. Taken in the context of seasons, it’s still one of the best shows out there. There’s never any reason to believe it won’t rebound from its missteps, but seeing those missteps gets a little annoying. It’s like Pavarotti putting an Oasis song in the middle of a concert. Is this episode interesting? Yes. Are we glad to see the boys back in action? Of course. Will I keep watching to see what happens next? You know I will. But right now, I’m disappointed.

What did you think? How does Payne rank with your favorite blind characters? What do you think of the new partnership? Post your comments below, or drop me a line at: tom@thetwocents.com.

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