I'm sitting in Cafe Roma at the top of Cavenagh St, my current air-conditioned escape in Darwin. It's so highly humid that previously dry clothes I've left out to 'air' during the night have become limp with moisture by morning. The motel where I'm staying smells entirely of mold, which I put unfairly down to poor housekeeping when I arrived. I made a polite complaint about my room (always a good bet in a tourist down season), and got moved to a larger, sunnier room upstairs, but it still smells of mold. If nothing else, Darwin's not a place where you need much moisturiser (tho there's a surprising amount of haggard and world-weary-looking people around -- hard-living, hard drinking?).
In my luggage, I bought with me the fifth season of Nip/Tuck. I wasn't sure what the boys' move to Hollywood would bring, and ironically it did seem to result in the loss of a certain hyperreal glow. Since N/T has always been filmed in Hollywood, maybe they put more effort into creating the Miami feel, but the LA season seemed to have lost some of the big blocky colour, unreal set look. It also featured a somewhat clunky, 'show within the show' parody, where Dr Sean ends up playing himself in a soap opera about plastic surgeons. It depicts Hollywood as full of people with control issues who find outlets through bizarre fetishistic behaviour…not an altogether surprising or original portrayal.
I hadn't watched N/T for at least a year, so I was struggling for a couple of episodes to remember who had slept with whom (if in doubt, presume everyone else). N/T is fascinated with pushing the incest taboo (tho perhaps this is common to all soaps and I don’t watch enough of them), and features all manner of relationship convolutions, and breaches of personal and professional boundaries, from which the main characters seem to bounce back remarkably well (i.e. within one or two episodes), along with finding corpses in their closets, being stabbed by stalkers in their surgeries, etc. There's been some simply inspired couplings, like when the unicorn-like Joely Richardson falls for the nanny, who's also a dwarf. The characters are never given the hubris of a full-length Shakespearean soliloquy, either; just a couple of dead-pan lines at the end of a pile up of corpses and alienated family members: 'Gee, I wasn't really thinking at the time, but it seems my pride has led to this. I guess I'd better quit the show.'
Some of my friends eschew my patronage of this show, but I still claim it's fabulous television (and it involves so much less concentration than The Wire). It slides between the long-running soap and the quality mini-series, but at a higher level than a show like Desperate Housewives, but never quite makes it to Dexter or True Blood. I'm little disappointed that the show's makers didn't try and do for plastic surgeons what 6FU did for funeral directors: N/T is Waugh-ian in its excesses but still a semi-tone off satire or black comedy. But being about plastic surgery, it has to be trashy.