DRAMA

FX (Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET)

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



There's a scene in the July 6 episode of Nip/Tuck that's so breathtakingly nutty I assumed it had to be a dream sequence. Libidinous plastic surgeon Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) has finally said no to a woman, his manipulative, sex-addicted paramour, Gina Russo, who'd asked if she could have a child with him. Now he walks into her apartment to find Gina (NYPD Blues' Jessalyn Gilsig) trying to get herself impregnated by not just one but three eager volunteers from her Sexaholics Anonymous group. No, it turns out Christian isn't dreaming. And, really, given this series' penchant for delivering shocks and surprises at nearly every turn, why should this scene have been any different? In that regard, the second season of Nip/Tuckseems giddily determined to top the first. A gunshot-wound victim reveals her hideous disfigurement. A face-lift is shown in graphic, skin-crawling detail. And (eww! better fast-forward your TiVo here) Christian performs a rhinoplasty on himself.

But it's in the bedroom rather than the O.R. that the show has really been upping the ante. A patient whose clitoris Christian has reconstructed invites him to take a test spin. Meanwhile, his nebbishy surgical partner, Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh), is grimly determined to satisfy his unresponsive wife, Julia (Joely Richardson), through strenuous bouts of oral sex.

Frankly, I prefer the verbal byplay—especially a venomous exchange between the insecure Julia and her preening mother, Erica, a child psychiatrist (archly played by Richardson's real-life mum, Vanessa Redgrave). I also like it when these glib, seemingly shallow characters are allowed to plumb untapped reservoirs of feeling—as Julian does in tender moments with Gina's son Wilber, the baby of mixed-race origin Julian knows he didn't father but who has awakened his paternal instincts nonetheless. For all its "look what we can get away with" grandstanding and scalpel-sharp wit, Nip/Tuck succeeds best when it deftly pierces the heart.

DRAMA

WB (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET)

bgwhite bgwhite   



Lori Loughlin, the Full House alum who co-created this bland sand-and-surf family show, is the principal reason for tuning in. As Ava Gregory, a thirtysomething fashion designer sharing a California beach rental with three single friends, she exudes tawny, wholesome, shampoo-ad sexiness. Plus, she's good with children, as she proved in the June 1 pilot, when Ava's traumatized young niece and two nephews from Kansas, orphaned after their parents were killed in an accident, came to live with her and her pals. Ava is a fount of empathy and wisdom. That, as much as lazy writing, may explain why this party of three happily adjusted to life without Mom and Dad by episode's end. In the three subsequent ones I've seen, 16-year-old Bradin (Jesse McCartney) develops a crush on his surfing instructor, while kid sister Nikki (Kay Panabaker) falls for a cute teen neighbor. The grown-ups? They mostly just fawn and fret over the orphans, though in the June 22 episode Ava and housemate Johnny (Shawn Christian), her former beau, seemed to be rekindling their romance, while another roomie had a steamy brief encounter with her ex. Summerlandcould use some more of that adult sizzle.

DRAMA

BET Awards '04 (BET, June 29,8 p.m. ET) Janet Jackson, live? Yep, she'll perform along with OutKast, Usher, Alicia Keys and other hot artists.

General Hospital (ABC, June 29,3 p.m. ET) How will American Idol judge Randy Jackson fare in a cameo as himself? Please do not phone in your votes.

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (NBC, June 30,8 p.m. ET) The first of a three-week summer broadcast run of the hit cable series has the Fab Five feverishly trying to make over fraternal twins.

World Poker Tour (Travel Channel, June 30, 9 p.m. ET) Not to tip our hand, but see how Sweden's Martin De Knijff won a record $2.7 million pot at April's WPT championship in Las Vegas.

The trail to Hope Rose(Hallmark Channel, July 3, 9 p.m. ET) Ernest Borgnine and Lee Majors are good guys in this TV-movie western about an ex-con (Lou Diamond Phillips) starting over in an 1850s mining town.

Kim Fields Kim Fields, 35, guest-stars on the June 28 season finale of Lifetime's The Division, reuniting her with fellow Facts of Life alum (and current Division star) Nancy McKeon, 38.

ON RECONNECTING WITH McKEON It was like old times. We still have the same laughs. Nancy was like a big sister to me. The last bit of advice I remember getting from her was when I didn't know how to shave my legs. We still talk about guys and relationships. It was truly like picking up where we left off.

ON THE REST OF THE FACTS SET Mindy [Cohn] and I e-mail. Lisa [Whelchel] has children and she's moved out of [California], so it's not as convenient for us to get together, but we keep in touch. Charlotte [Rae] and I talk on the phone. It's not at all out of sight out of mind.

ON WHAT'S NEXT I have a couple of TV projects in development that I'm pitching. There are two independent features that just got financed. And in September I'm performing my spoken-word CD Smooth Is Spoken Here at a music and poetry festival. People are digging it, and I'm excited.

ON AGING SCHOOLGIRLS There's this scene on The Division where a car explodes and we run. Nancy, who had just had her baby, runs holding her tummy. I run, holding my breasts. And we're just like: This is why we weren't cast as Charlie's Angels.

  • Contributors:
  • Mike Lipton,
  • Amy Bonawitz.