Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nip/Tuck: Candy Richards (5.14)

Ryan Murphy spoke before season five premiered that the year's stories would be driven by the idea that Hollywood corrupts those who occupy it. In that regard, the season has been successful in some areas. Sean and Christian both got carried away with the fame and lifestyles of the Hollywood elite, embarking on a series of awful misadventures with teen tyrants, male prostitution and the relentless pursuit of attention. But for so much of the season, this idea was abandoned and replaced by an array of cheap dramatic tricks, salacious plot twists and embarrassing attempts at provocation. In one way, Nip/Tuck itself had been corrupted by its pursuit of notoriety, taking that once complimentary label of a 'boundary-pushing soap opera' and using it as an excuse to depict whatever nutty carnage they could think of.

As the finale to the first part of season five, Candy Richards isn't a complete disaster, but it sure is underwhelming. Sean is still being bothered by Colleen Rose, not interested in hiring private security or get her arrested and put under psychiatric hold despite being repeatedly stalked and threatened by her. Unlike previous Nip/Tuck bad girls, Colleen was straight out of a horror movie, from the gimmicky bear-making she did as a hobby, to the leaving of her freshly-stuffed murder victims in closets, and finally to that knife-happy stab-a-thon she embarks on at the end of the episode. I loved Sharon Gless in the role, but this entire story was an exercise in shock for the sake of shock.

Julia's shooting provided the nadir of the episode, the show deciding to saddle her with amnesia. Of course amnesia being the last resort for lazy writers who can't think of anything else to do with tired characters. I was terrified on first viewing this episode in 2008 that the show would use this ridiculous plot device to simply re-run the Julia and Sean romantic saga yet again, but they seemingly didn't have the self-hatred to go down that particular road for the thousandth time.

Of similar pointlessness was the arrival of Emme's mother, a one night stand of Christian's who was left disabled after an accident. Despite strong work from Diane Farr (conveying so much longing and disappointment as Darlene reflected on her life), the story goes nowhere fast. This also occurs with Matt and Emme's incestuous relationship, a story so ill-conceived that the writers obviously had an epiphany and dropped any mention of it right from the next episode. Emme's a kook and Matt's an idiot; there's nothing of any importance there.

Best Guest Star award goes to Jennifer Coolidge, reliably nutty as a deluded starlet unaware of just how inconsequential she is. I loved her list of low-rent guest star work (Judging Amy, Ghost Whisperer, a severed head in a freezer on Law & Order: Trial by Jury), as well as her 'dear-in-the-headlights' bug eyes. Coolidge is always wonderful, though. Just switch the camera on and she can provide the laughs.

An unmitigated mess of a season closes up its first half with an unsurprisingly messy episode. The year has featured an array of wonderful standalone stories and equally strong guest turns from a host of recurring cast members, but most of the greatness was drowned out by increasingly absurd story arcs involving Eden and annoying use of the show's key characters. As always, the show wants to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to insanity. Some of the craziness worked, but most of it this year was just plain ugly. C

Guest stars Portia de Rossi (Olivia Lord); Jennifer Coolidge (Candy Richards); Sharon Gless (Colleen Rose); AnnaLynne McCord (Eden Lord); Jeannine Kaspar (Emme Lowell); Lisa Darr (Darlene Lowell); Kelsey Lynn Batelaan (Annie McNamara); Joyce Guy (Lara); Paul Fitzgerald (Gary Gold); Michael Mantell (Doctor); Randy Vasquez (Detective)
Writer Jennifer Salt Director Richard Levine


  1. I know this isn't really important, but I just wanted to let you know that the actress that played Darlene in this episode is called Lisa Darr, not Diane Farr.

  2. Heh, thanks. I'll change that at some point. They even look sort of similar, too.