Having been such a big fan of this show for the first three seasons, it's hard to admit that Nip/Tuck has become something so far removed from what it originally started out as that it has become nearly unidentifiable. The sharp drop in quality has been both abrupt and staggering and those of us hoping for some sort of respite after the mediocrity of season four certainly haven't gotten our wish; if anything, season five is shaping up to be worse.
I'm a pretty forgiving person when it comes to entertainment. I can watch just about anything and glean some fun out of it, assuming it maintains some level of quality. I can also forgive a bad season of a good show assuming of course the writers and producers are willing and able to get that show back on the proverbial track the following season. After being enormously disappointed with season four, I had hoped that the relocation of the business to Los Angeles would facilitate a fresh start for the show and inject some life into the new plotlines. After four seasons it was obvious the writers were running out of ideas so the notion of taking the surgeons and depositing them into a completely different construct would eliminate stale plotlines and force some originality.
Unfortunately, the exact opposite has occurred and the show has continued to drag along the limp, lifeless and dull corpses of plotlines that need to be retired, including the love triangle between Christian, Shaun and Julia and Matt's never ending angst. What's truly bizarre about this season is that they've managed to transplant nearly everyone from Miami into California, making the location change completely irrelevant. Even Gina has returned, her annoying and two dimensional character traits in tact, only to be quickly killed off in a twist that was embarrassingly reminiscent of a daytime soap opera.
Along with the glut of returning characters, season five is peppered with an assortment of new characters that redefine the term generic archetype. Eden is such a transparent and unconvincing villainess that the notion of her nefarious machinations being any sort of surprise to anyone seems ridiculous. Her character is so blatant in execution that she might as well don a black mustache that she twists while winking at the camera.
Then we have the fake-stalker-agent Colleen, who is so obviously not a legitimate agent than even a country bumpkin tourist visiting Hollywood could spot the holes in her credentials. Yet, Christian (a normally intelligent and thoughtful person) swallows her act even when all facts point to her being an unstable, manipulative liar. Even worse is her recent murder of a rival agent by stuffing him with teddy bear materials; the entire setup of that murder was not only woefully predictable but mundane in execution. There was nothing even remotely frightening or believable about the manner in which she dispatched her rival. Contrast that bombastic scenario with the chilling attempt by a rival surgeon to remove and wear Sean's face in season two. The dip in quality from those seasons to the present is palpable and frankly, depressing.
Perhaps even more damaging to the integrity of the show are the schizophrenic story arcs and the lack of meaningful resolution to any of them. Nip/Tuck has always been a show that juggled numerous subplots but in the past those multiple stories were handled in a manner that progressed the narrative forward to a reasonable conclusion in an economic and compelling way. The subplots found in this season seem more random in nature; a collection of extreme situations and circumstances that will no doubt suffer equally sensationalistic endings. As previously mentioned, the entire venture now seems more like daytime TV, and that is most certainly not a compliment considering what Nip/Tuck once was.
While I could go on shredding this show, the real concern in my opinion is that Nip/Tuck is well on its way to demolishing any legacy of quality it might have once possessed. After two brilliant seasons and a pretty decent third, this show no longer retains even a measure of its former quality. If Nip/Tuck continues in this fashion, it will run for another couple season and eventually, the ratio of quality-to-crap episodes will lean in favor of the crap. As it stands, we have been given two almost worthless seasons and I have serious doubts that season six, assuming there is one, will be any better. Any TV show is eventually defined by the legacy of quality that it leaves behind and unfortunately, that quality is often decided by the later episodes. Consider a once great show like the X-Files, which ended so poorly and suffered through several seasons of mediocrity that much of its otherwise impressive episodic run was tarnished.
Even worse is that Nip/Tuck actually tarnishes the quality of FX, which has become one of the best sources for original programming in all of television. With critically acclaimed shows like The Shield, Damages, and Rescue Me rivaling the best efforts on Showtime and HBO, Nip/Tuck looks and feels like the product of something more akin to UPN or the CW. What was once an interesting drama based in character conflict and the exploration of hedonism has become a corny, predictable amalgamation of plot contrivances and mundane revelations steeped in shock value that insult our collective intelligence.
I understand that some of you still like this show and for what it's worth, you're entitled to that opinion. However, I can't imagine anyone, including the most ardent defenders, asserting that these last two seasons have even approached what seasons 1-3 accomplished. The decline in quality and content is so apparent that literally every one of my friends and family who've been watching the show since day one have recently abandoned it in response to how far off the grid this series has fallen.
Nip/Tuck is finished and my sincerest hope is that FX cancels it before it completely ruins the legacy of the first three seasons.