One of the things I read while waiting to be called for jury duty Tuesday was a review of the upcoming season premiere of “Nip/Tuck.” It was, if not a rave, certainly respectful. I watched, I think, three episodes of this show when it first came on the air, which was maybe 2.5 more than I needed to figure out its schtick. And that is? Let’s freak out the squares! Those who know me know (I hope) that I’m not squeamish about these things, language and bare bums and all the rest of it. I’m no Lileks; you won’t catch me going mano-a-mano with straw over this stuff. But I do want people who seek to break barriers and bring a new level of honesty, so to speak, to television, to be about more than saying “cock and balls” at 10 p.m. on basic cable. And I don’t think these people are.

(“To live outside the law you must be honest.” — Bob Dylan. He knows a thing or two.)

I watched, giving the NYT reviewer the benefit of the doubt. Bad move. I found the show — how is this possible? — offensive. How offensive? A mother-daughter pickup team goes to bed with one of the main characters. Mom snuggles with him while daughter goes Monica on him outside the frame. “Move over, honey,” mom says, taking her place. “I was sucking dick when you were still sucking pacifiers.” Larry Hagman does a regrettable guest turn to complain that his testicle implants don’t match his “wang,” and he wants to trade up to “kiwis.” There’s lots of dry humping, explicit boom-boom without the nudity (bare butts are OK, bare boobs not yet). Just an aside: Only on cable do so many women choose to have sex while wearing bras. Much bad language: Shit shit shit shit shit. Cock. Cock and balls. Goddamn. It was kind of like the finale of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” a few years back, the one in the restaurant. Kathleen Turner — Kathleen Turner! the once-great Kathleen Turner! — plays a phone-sex operator who wants something done to her larynx so her voice will sound younger and sexier. Does she demonstrate some of her patter? Do you even need to ask?

What else? I lost track. By the time Brooke Shields, playing a therapist, was bent over her desk, taking it stern-on (again, more or less fully clothed) from her client the doctor, I was thinking this is really really it. Brooke looked like she wasn’t having a very good time. I believe she was thinking, “I am going to kill my agent.”

It’s not often that a TV show leaves me feeling dirty. That’s sayin’ something.

Please, please contrast this with this very smart and honest take on “The Wire,” and ask yourself if we live in a just world. Don’t answer that; I already know.

(Thanks to Michael G for the Wire tip-off. I should look up Tim Goodman more often.)

Posted at 1:12 am in Television |

4 responses to “Crap/Swill”

  1. Rich B said on September 7, 2006 at 2:11 pm

    That “The Wire” episode was as good as a “Sopranos”. Except what’s McNulty for. Romantic interest? He sticks out like a sore thumb. And yet another nice version of the theme song, by Tom Waites.

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  2. Mary O said on September 7, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    Thanks for confirming my view of Nip/Tuck. I tried to watch it sometime last season, but found it offensive too. People don’t learn the lessons of The Wire/Sopranos/Deadwood: Yes, we want cutting-edge, but do it with quality. This was cutting edge too, but downright offensive cutting edge.

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  3. mary said on September 7, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    Speaking of offensive and uninteresting stuff on basic cable, I saw about five minutes of the William Shatner celebrity roast on comedy central the other night. I know expectations should be very, very low for something like this, but it was worse than my lowest expectation. Witless and filthy it was.

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  4. nancy said on September 7, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    Roasts are tricky. They’re always high-wire acts of crudity, but can also be sidesplittingly funny. The one for Rob Reiner contained a line I’ll never forget: “His body is so hairy his dick looks like a button on a fur coat.” There’s a guy at the NYObserver who occasionally covers the Friars’ Club roasts, which seem to set the standard. That’s where I first heard about the Aristocrats joke, when Gilbert Gottfried did it at Hugh Hefner’s roast. (Speaking of clueless; the guy sat there like a lox through the whole thing. Either he needed his hearing aid turned up or he really is that stupid.)

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