Saturday, September 24, 2005

Nip/Tuck: 'Ma Boone' (3x01)

Around March I watched the first two seasons of Nip/Tuck, a show that I enjoyed a lot, but it never went further than that. It's a soap opera through and through, in both the positive sense of long plots and character based storytelling, and the negative, in that there isn't that much character growth, the story doesn't seem to be going anywhere. But at the same time it's an extremely enjoyable show, so I was psyched for the return.

It's always a bit tough to pick up a highly continuous show after a long break, you don't have the strong connection to the characters that you develop when watching a show in a continuous binge. So, the show has to work to bring you back into its headspace and not only advance the plots, but also remind you of where they were to begin with. Six Feet Under's premiere this year did an astonishing job of bringing right back to where I was when I was finished watching the fourth season, it was one of the most emotionally wrenching episodes of the series, and I got all those emotions, by the end I was completely back in the world of the series.

Here, I was caught up on all the plots, but I was still a bit distanced and that caused to see more of the weaknesses than if I was still fully immersed in the series, as I was when I finished watching the second season. I remember right after finishing that finale I was really excited to find out who the carver was, but a lot of time has passed, and now I didn't really care, and while I do care, I never reached that same level of concern that I had at the end of the last season.

Nip/Tuck is a show that always works by blending together extreme glamour with some really nasty images, and this episode certainly did that. I'm not sure why they choose to show the really graphic surgeries, I get the idea of setting up the world, as Six Feet Under did with some early corpses, but at this point we've got the idea, do we still need to see something like the breast implant removal, which is just nasty and doesn't add anything to the plot? While the woman on the couch was very nasty, she was also the central focus of the episode, so it makes sense to spend so much time with her, and on her surgery.

I think the episode's decision to set up a parallel between Christian and Ma Boone was just too obvious. There was no need to sell it so hard. The whole Ma Boone thing was odd and nasty, but still worked from a story point of view.

There's a lot of potential for interesting stuff with Julia this season, seeing what happens to someone whose been dependent their whole life, how do they carve out a seperate identity for themselves? However, we don't see too much of her this episode, so I can imagine that'll become a more prominent feature of future episodes.

My favorite character last season was Kimber, and I'm glad to see that she's become a regular this season, and her continuing work as a director of porn films has some dramatic potential.

One thing I found really odd was the threesome. Now, I never mind two hot women kissing, but it seemed very tangentially connected to the narrative, I guess the point was that this was Christian reclaiming his personality, as he tells Kimber, "I'm back baby," but it still seemed a bit odd and came out of nowhere. But the show always seems to go for cheap thrills, and if they're still thrilling, does it matter if they're cheap?

This is a show that isn't trying to be a great work of art, it's all about entertaining the audience, and in that respect this episode succeeded, and despite the show's myriad flaws, I wouldn't miss the next episode.

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