Monday, September 19, 2005

Oh, She Nipped and She Tucked, All Right

I got to see (again) the season 2 finale of Nip/Tuck the other day, and . . . god, it really was one of the better episodes of television I’ve seen this year. So much going on in it. And the big reveal concerning Famke Janssen’s character – never saw it coming. And Famke herself was outstanding. The show gets slammed sometimes for being too outrageous or for trying too hard or whatever, but I kind of don’t see it. I think if you’re going to set your show in a plastic surgeon’s office and have one of your two main characters be a vain, amoral nymphomaniac, the rest of the show pretty much has to keep up. Anyway, the episode was intense and well acted, and the only real drawback was having to see the kabuki horror show that is Joan Rivers’s face.

The thing I most liked about it was that exec producer Ryan Murphy (who I believe wrote and directed this episode) really refused to moralize or judge any of his characters too harshly. And, usually when you talk about a show that humanizes a villain in the interests of multi-dimensionality, what they do is give the villain some sort of trauma at the hands of an even worse villain so that we feel somewhat sorry for them. Murphy never asks us to feel sorry for Ava (Janssen). He even gives us Alec Baldwin as a dignified and rather sad (but not “pathetic” sad) character in place of what a lesser show would have portrayed as a cruel and tormenting bastard. No, we don’t feel sorry for Ava. Murphy and Janssen manage to give such a clear-headed portrayal from top to bottom that in the end we understand Ava. We don’t have to demonize her, excuse her, weep for her, or forgive her. We just know who she is. Seriously, well done, Nip/Tuck.

This is all in the way of saying that Nip/Tuck begins its third season on Tuesday at 10pm. Don’t miss it. It’s some wild TV.

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