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Great, if flawed, Season of the show
on 30 May 2006
Nip/Tuck Season 2 ended with one of the show's two main characters-Christian Troy-at the hands of serial slasher, The Carver. As Art Garfunkel's track 'All I Know', The Carver's blade fell, leaving fans on edge. Suffice it to say that that edge grew even sharper when it was revealed that a whole year lay between that and the Season 3 premiere, due to show creator Ryan Murphy's working on the film 'Running With Scissors' and Julian McMahon filming 'Fantastic Four'
So, when the Season 3 premiere rolled around, how was it going to live up to fan expectations? Well, it wasn't, obviously. NOTHING can live up to a year's worth of speculation and theorising. I've heard a lot of things about Season 3, mostly about how weak it is compared to the previous two seasons. I disagree with that. I wouldn't call Season 3 weak, just... different, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.
The season picks up a month after Christian's being attacked and the first episode in and of itself is a testament to the show's usual bizzare patient storylines, with a 650 pound woman who has become fused to her couch. Other patient storylines this Season include a fraternity prank gone wrong, a facial transplant (oddly enough, that particular episode was transmitted a week or so before it happened successfully in real life) and a man who wants his leg amputated.
Whereas I disagree with the season's detractors, I do agree that this season lacks one particular thing-cohesion. There is a LOT of random plot jumping between various arcs, making the whole season feel slightly disjointed. Things that happen at the end of one episode are not even mentioned in the next in some cases. Whereas this isn't exactly a reason to jump the show, it can become slightly annoying.
But where Season 3 really, really shines is with the characters. Seasons 1 and 2 kept them all in, basically, the same places-Julia was the housewife, Sean was the 'good man' with a dark streak, Christian was the playboy and Matt was the mischievous son. Season 3, though, takes these characters to new places, especially towards the middle. Without giving too much away, Julia ends up in a spa business and Sean ends up working for the witness protection program, leaving Christian with new doctor Quentin Costa). Some might say that these are all out of blue (Julia never really struck me as a business woman, to be honest) but out of the blue or not, it is still interesting to see the characters spread their wings and explore new areas and I applaud the writers for taking that risk. But the best character development this Season came from Matt, whose downfall is played wonderfully by John Hensley. Again, I won't give anything away, but, despite Nip/Tuck's knack for being 'out there', Hensley makes this storyline totally believable, portraying Matt as a guy who is genuinely angry and hurt.
Apart from the regulars, this Season also brought in two new characters. Quentin Costa, who was first brought in in late Season 2 to fix Sean's face following an attack by The Carver, comes in to join the practice following Christian's attack. Played by Bruno Campos, I think he can be best described as a combination of both Sean and Christian, with a few secrets that are gradually revealed over the course of the season. There's also British detective, Kit, whose primary focus is on The Carver case, although she does, naturally, get involved with Christian at one point (surprised?)
So, the Season's great shining point is its characters. Its downfall? Its villain. The Carver was first introduced in late Season 2 as a masked man who went around cutting beautiful people's faces into a 'smile'. And he was genuinely scary at some points, namely the scene in Sean's bathroom. He also contributed to that Season's brilliant final twist, turning what was already an intense finale into something that would keep fans guessing for a year. In my opinion, though, that's where it should have ended because, by the end of Season 3, The Carver has not only grown stale, he's grown into a slasher villain. Now, I'm not going to deny that speculating about who it may be was good fun, but, in general, he ruined the Season for me. Putting aside the finale and the big reveal (which seems to be very love it/hate it) he really felt shallow, especially compared to previous villains Escobar and Ava. Not only because he was hiding behind a mask for the majority of it, but simply because he did not tie into the Season, either thematically or plot wise. Escobar and Ava both felt right-Escobar in kept with Season One's theme of the dark, gritty side to the plastic surgery industry and Ava in kept with Season Two's theme of aging and hiding your true identity. The Carver is just... there, randomly, weaving in and out of the Season, contributing to the disjointed effect I was talking about earlier and offering nothing to make us think beyond 'Wow, he's got a big knife!'
The DVD itself is pretty average. The episodes look and sound nice, and the cover art and menu screens match up nicely with the previous two, but the extras are nothing to write home about. Basically, we get a few deleted scenes, most of which feel rather randomly picked. It's better than Season 2, where we got nothing, but it's always such a disappointment when a great show such as this goes without any real meat packaged with it. Would some commentaries or behind the scenes be too much to ask for?
Despite its flaws, Season 3 is a solid entry in the shows history, taking the characters to new places. Will everyone like it? No. But Nip/Tuck has always been a niche show and, let's face it, there's nothing else quite like it on TV.