Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – A Little Nip Here, a Little Tuck There

It’s almost that time of year when our favorite television programs take a summer hiatus.  That previously meant that we would have to wait until fall programming returned to watch anything new, but this isn’t necessarily the case anymore — not with summer series on networks such as USA, A&E, and TNT.  But even with these summer hits, we still don’t have the variety of TV shows to watch during the summer, which is why Amber West and I decided to return to our Netflix Queue It Up series this week on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday.

Has anyone ever had a crush so big on a TV actor or actress that they would watch anything that said actor or actress starred in?  That’s how I found Nip/Tuck

I first “met” Julian McMahon on a fantastic criminal profiling series (Profiler) in the late ‘90s.  When the program ended in 2000, I was ecstatic to learn that the actor who played “John Grant” joined the cast of another one of my favorite television shows, CharmedFor three years, I loved McMahon’s dual role as the demon Balthazar and his human counterpart, Cole Turner – especially his love affair with Phoebe (Alyssa Milano).  But again after just a few short years, Julian McMahon was leaving the show…

So what did I do?  I followed him over to the new FX drama, Nip/Tuck, where he plays one half of the plastic surgeon team of McNamara/Troy.

And let me just say, I was very pleased with my decision to trail him over to the new series.  Already established with hit original programming (The Shield), FX didn’t disappoint with its newest drama following two plastic surgeons and friends since college –Sean McNamara and Christian Troy.

"Tell us what you don't like about yourself."

The two doctors are nothing alike – Sean (played by Dylan Walsh) is grounded, logical, and married; while Christian (McMahon) is sexy, charming, edgy and most importantly, single.  In other words, McNamara/Troy not only succeeds because Sean and Christian are two of the best in the business, but also because of the dynamic – Sean is the “brains” and Christian the “face” of the practice.

Nip/Tuck not only focused on the practice and aired graphic plastic surgery scenes (some so vivid, even the manliest of men had to look away), but also shared the life of Sean and Christian outside the office… and their personal lives were anything but perfect.

Meet Sean’s family: Julia McNamara (played by Joely Richardson), Matt McNamara (played by John Hensley), and Annie McNamara (played by Kelsey Batelaan).

Julia
Matt
Annie

Now meet Christian’s family: Sean, Julia, Matt, and Annie.  That’s right – Christian has no one outside the McNamara clan.  But that’s okay; they love him — sometimes too much (considering his love affair with Julia that produced… well, no spoilers here) and sometimes not at all.

But despite my ongoing love affair with Julian McMahon, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the real star of Nip/Tuck is the storyline/s.  Each episode usually involves at least one plastic surgery story with a new or returning patient (patients including familiar faces such as J.K. Simmons, Rosie O’Donnell and Joan Rivers), but each season also carries out an ongoing storyline that carried the show.

What made these storylines so special?  They were dark, messed up, and some of the best drama on TV at the time.  The writers and creators of Nip/Tuck pushed the boundaries, something the regular network channels wouldn’t dream of doing (at least not then; and still not today… not really).

See? Graphic...

Don’t believe me?  Season one immediately starts with Sean’s son Matt self-circumcising himself to better please his high school girlfriend.  Yea, that’s right – self-circumcision.  Also in the first season: a baby is born (it’s no surprise that the paternity is an issue), Christian inherits a stalker, McNamara/Troy is forced into surgically removing heroin from drug mules, and one of the doctors might actually commit murder.  Oh, and there’s another paternity issue.  I’m trying really hard to not give anything away here…

My favorite season/storyline is hands down season three – The Carver.  Sean and Christian (along with new surgeon Quentin Costa, played by Bruno Campos) agree to operate on The Carver’s victims pro bono, further infuriating the serial attacker.  One thing leads to another, many fall victim to The Carver (including an entire sorority house) and Christian’s bride-to-be (Kimber, played Kelly Carlson) is kidnapped and later discovered as another completely mutilated victim of The Carver.

Of course, The Carver storyline isn’t the only on-going masterpiece of season three; it’s just my favorite.  Other popular and racy stories over the years include: Kimber’s sex doll (Kimber is ultimately the love of Christian’s life, who also happens to be a porn star); trans-gender sex changes; bi-sexuality; white supremacy; extreme religious affiliations; controversial pregnancies due to genetic disorders; and lots and lots of sex.

Kimber and her sex doll

Nip/Tuck featured many famous guest stars over the years (Portia de Rossi, Bradley Cooper, Famke Janssen, Vanessa Redgrave, Rhona Mitra, Brittany Snow, Jacqueline Bisset, Mario Lopez, Sharon Gless, AnnaLynne McCord, Katee Sackhoff, and Rose McGowan to just name a few), but the heart of the story belonged to Sean, Christian, Julia, Matt, Annie, Kimber, and Liz Cruz (Sean and Christian’s gay anesthesiologist played by Roma Maffia).

Liz is really the glue that holds McNamara and Troy together...

I literally could go on and on about Nip/Tuck, it is absolutely one of my favorites of all time.  It’s not for those with weak stomachs or those with strong convictions, but to me is still worthy of a GTV rating —  fine TV is like fine dining at its best: bone-in-filet cooked to perfection with a side of lobster baked macaroni and cheese, served with a $100 bottle of Cabernet and table-side banana fosters for dessert.

To this day, I will still give FX’s original programs a try because of their “out-side-the-box” way of producing and writing.  Seriously, look at their resume since:  Rescue Me, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dirt, The Riches, Damages, and Sons of Anarchy.  And what about the network’s most recent hits:  Justified, Archer, The League, and American Horror Story?  If you haven’t already, give FX a try.   But first – queue up Nip/Tuck on Netflix and watch the 100 episodes in order.

What do you think? Did you watch Nip/Tuck?  Are you a McNamara or a Troy fan?  Which storyline was your favorite and why?  Do you have a TV crush that you’ve followed from program to program?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see which programs she recommends our WatchWed viewers queue up on Netflix this summer — I smell a few BBC series in the air…

Come back next week when Amber and I review two of TV’s newest dramas starring two of Hollywood’s biggest stars – Touch, starring Kiefer Sutherland and Missing, starring Ashley Judd.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Tele-Tuesday – Down Memory Lane: 1996

The 1990s – A Decade known for the massive growth and popularity of the Internet, gaming, and cell phones, also saw tumultuous times including The Gulf War and the Oklahoma City bombing, which created two of the most hated men in U.S. history – Saddam Hussein and Timothy McVeigh.

In the ’90s, the world also experienced perhaps one of the most popular scandals involving United States President Bill Clinton and White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.

The ‘90s generation watched as music and television took over the fashion world with women flocking to the salons for the “Rachel” cut, while the men raced to the barber asking for the sideburns of Jason Priestly and Luke Perry.  One of our favorite must-have items of the decade were the plaid and flannel shirts we all purchased by the dozen.

Top entertainers in the ‘90s included: the television ensemble casts of Friends, Seinfeld, Beverly Hills, 90210, ER; the popular grunge bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam; the pop-rock acts such as the Spice Girls; and other musicians like The Offspring, Green Day, and No Doubt.

Movie theaters saw great blockbuster success with the films Titanic, Dances with Wolves, The Silence of the Lambs (an upcoming Boo Factor installment), Home Alone, Pulp Fiction, The Matrix, Independence Day, The Lion King, and Pretty Woman.

Now, let’s shift specifically to 1996. What do I remember about that year?

The city of Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympics, and amidst all of the swimming, gymnastics, and track and field, Eric Robert Rudolph killed two people and injured over a hundred more when he attacked Centennial Olympic Park with homemade pipe bombs filled with shrapnel.

Despite the tragedy in Atlanta, the United States won 44 gold medals, with a grand total of 101 medals – more than any other country.

What else?  Television programs, of course!

Today, let’s take a look back at some of the great crime dramas of 1996.

Nash Bridges (1996-2001)

Nash Bridges follows two of San Francisco’s elite investigators:  Nash Bridges (Don Johnson) and Joe Dominguez (Cheech Marin).   Bridges has a photographic memory, and battles the difficulties of living with his aging father (James Gammon) and daughter (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe).   As far as the police work, Nash and Dominguez team with Harvey Leek, a Grateful Dead fan (known as a “Dead-Head), and  Evan Cortez, Nash’s daughter’s eventual fiancé.

A Don Johnson television show wouldn’t be complete without his character driving a super-charged sports car, and of course, Nash drove a 1971 Barracuda convertible.

Fun Fact: Johnson’s Miami Vice co-star, Philip Michael Thomas, and Marin’s cinematic co-star, Tommy Chong, guest-starred in a 1997 episode, “Wild Card.”

NYPD Blue (1993-2005)

NYPD Blue aired over a decade on television, a feat that’s rarely accomplished anymore.  Perhaps the series lasted because of the story-telling, or perhaps it was because of the fabulous characters.  I’m going with characters.

Who will ever forget New York City Detective Andy Sipowicz, played by the great Dennis Franz?  Sipowicz may have been plagued by the interchanging partners throughout the seasons (John Kelly played by David Caruso, Bobby Simone played by Jimmy Smits, Danny Sorenson played by Rick Schroder, and John Clark, Jr. played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar), but audiences still tuned in on a weekly basis because they loved Andy and his relationships, something that was very difficult for him.

Sipowicz managed to be one of the most intense detectives on the squad, maybe even in television history, while also raising his young son alone following his wife’s death.

Over the years, the precinct consisted of other fine detectives and district attorneys played by Gordon Clapp, Amy Brenneman, Nicholas Turturro, Garcelle Beauvais, Henry Simmons, Charlotte Ross, James McDaniel, Currie Graham, Esai Morales, and Dana Delaney to name a few.  Undoubtedly, after more than ten years on the tele, NYPD Blue survived because of its spectacular ensemble cast with Dennis Franz taking the lead.

Law & Order (1990-2010)

“In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”

Sound familiar? Television viewers heard this narration by Steven Zirnkilton for twenty years on NBC during the opening credits of Law & Order.

Reigning as television royalty for two decades, Law & Order ranks as one of the best police procedural and legal dramas in television history.  The series, now turned into a franchise, has spawned four spinoffs: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, and Law & Order: LA.

The format of Law & Order focused the first thirty minutes of the hour-long program on the detectives solving the crime, and the final thirty minutes on the district attorneys taking their case to court.  Many television and big screen greats have called Law & Order their home at one time or another, including Chris Noth, Richard Brooks, Jerry Orbach, S. Epatha Merkerson, Benjamin Bratt, Jill Hennessy, Sam Waterston, Jesse L. Martin, Angie Harmon, Dianne Wiest, Fred Thompson, Jeremy Sisto, Dennis Farina, and Anthony Anderson.

Abruptly cancelled in 2010, the Law & Order fans can only hope that some network out there in the television universe will one day grant the closure the dedicated fans deserve, with maybe a two-hour made for television movie?

Profiler (1996-2000)

Perhaps the success of Profiler was due to the fact that Dr. Samantha Waters (Ally Walker) was one of the first forensic psychologists on network television.  Up to this point, viewers met a ton of cops, detectives, and private investigators on their favorite TV shows, but Profiler introduced a team of FBI agents that focused on criminal behaviors to find their suspects.

Samantha is haunted throughout the series by “Jack of all Trades”, the serial killer who took the life of her husband.  Her team consists of a detective (Julian McMahon), a computer hacker (Peter Frechette), and a forensic pathologist (Roma Maffia), and is led by Sam’s longtime friend and mentor (played by the great, Robert Davi).

Ally Walker’s character eventually retired, and Jamie Luner joined the cast as a new forensic psychologist in the fourth and final season of the show.

Fun Fact Trivia – What television hit did Julian McMahon and Roma Maffia star in, together again, from 2003-2010?

What do you remember from the 1990s – the politics, the entertainment, or the technology?  What are some of your favorite crime shows from the ‘90s? Did you enjoy any of these 1996 television series? I’d love to hear from you!

Stop by #teletuesday in Twitter so we can chat about these shows and many more!

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