November 21, 2005 12:00 PM

Deep into my spaghetti and meatballs, and Whammo! Someone’s suddenly getting sucked, tucked or sliced up to some bouncy tune by Sly and the Family Stone. While just as delightfully grotesque as ever—that lady who had to be surgically removed from the couch particularly hit home with me—the FX drama of late isn’t quite the saucy, steamy show it’s been in the past.

The third season certainly started off with a bang, with Boston Legal’s Rhona Mitra adding some spice to Christian (Julian McMahon) and Kimber’s (Kelly Carlson) relationship, but things have been a tad bland since she left. Besides the recent dearth of sex appeal, there’s also been a slowdown in the twists and turns that made last season more addictive than Botox shots, which makes me wonder: Has TV’s edgiest drama gone soft? Christian certainly has. What happened to that loveable, cocky dirt bag whose idea of a nice date was bringing a girl to a swingers party? Now, thanks to his mommy issues, he’s making friends with a guy with Down syndrome, putting together photo albums and going down on his knees to propose marriage of all things.

Despite this temporary lull, Nip/Tuck is still the most riveting hour on TV. With tongue-in-cheek turns by guest stars like Joan Rivers, Anne Heche and Vanessa Redgrave (where else are you going to see that lady sucking on a bong?) and the mystery of “the Carver” still looming, devoted viewers aren’t about to tune out. About the Carver, by the way—the masked serial stabber scarring faces across Miami—my guess is it’s Bruno Campos. He’s too slimy to not be up to no good. We’re also dying to see if Sean (Dylan Walsh) ever sends that sullen teenager of his off to Brat Camp. But please, producers, if you want to keep us happy, bring back bad Christian. Right now the only thing riveting about him are his overly tweezed eyebrows.


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