Looking back, it's almost quaint to think how scandalous Nip/Tuck was when it premiered nearly a decade ago. The series took its first bow in July 2003 and, almost immediately, invited controversy for its unflinching depictions of plastic surgery and some of the excesses of its fast-living characters. Created by Ryan Murphy (best known these days for breathing life into the perpetually perky teens of "Glee"), Nip/Tuck follows the lives of plastic surgeons Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon), whose initially Miami-based practice plays host to all manner of, shall we say, vivid clients.
A lurid soap opera with surprising intelligence, not to mention a startling empathy for its deeply flawed characters, the multiple Emmy nominee Nip/Tuck is high-minded storytelling masquerading as cable-ready sleaze. Much as in his current series, "Glee," Murphy and his stable of creative collaborators have a tendency to hammer home points a little too frequently; the themes of homosexuality and acceptance of all people, regardless of their orientation or appearance, pulse beneath nearly every episode here. Nevertheless, Nip/Tuck is, most importantly, compulsively watchable, not only for the outrageous and gore-slicked surgery scenes (and, yes, the hot-'n'-heavy sexacapades), but also for the superb ensemble cast's work through six uneven seasons. What begins so strongly, arguably peaking in the third, riveting season, falters mightily as the creative staff attempts to transplant doctors McNamara and Troy cross-country, as well finding a satisfactory way to bring everything to a conclusion.
It's messy -- both doctors, while (mostly) the model of professionalism at the office, have extraordinarily complicated domestic lives -- and, often, broaches subject matter (gender reassignment surgery, for example) that many television series, even in 2011, shy away from. It's a credit to FX, which broadcast all six seasons of the show, that Nip/Tuck was allowed to paint a frank, frequently compelling portrait of adults behaving badly. In that respect, I found myself through these 100 episodes recalling another, much-adored series that featured a squirm-inducing profession and profoundly dysfunctional characters: Alan Ball's "Six Feet Under."
But while "Six Feet Under" portrays its calamities and couplings in more mundane, conventional ways (that's meant as a compliment), Nip/Tuck layers on the decadence, cloaking its hollowed-out characters in the flashiest, most luxurious surroundings it can muster. For as much as the show is a running commentary on the horrible things people do to themselves and each other in the name of external beauty, so too is it a sly commentary on the very American past-time of attempting to better our collective selves through the pursuit of superficial, ultimately empty prizes. The boats, the cars, the condos, the smoking hot girlfriends -- all of these, Nip/Tuck, seems to say, are wonderful perks, but making them the sole focus of one's existence makes for a long, lonely, soul-crushing experience.
Nip/Tuck: The Complete Series is housed, naturally, in a very stylish silver foil-covered box, which contains all seven season sets (the fifth season is split into two parts). These sets are identical to the previously released versions; each season features a standard DVD case contained by a foil slipcase. Although it's a sizable package, it's very beautifully presented and fittingly luxe for a show so enamored with decadence.