Picks and Pans Review: Nip/Tuck

updated 07/28/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/28/2003 01:00AM

FX (Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET)
Critic's Choice

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Nice guys may not finish last at FX, but they're a low priority when it comes to drama development.

The network that brought you The Shield, a show centering on a rogue cop with a brutal streak, now unveils a series that's no less provocative: the weekly adventures of lecherous Christian (Julian McMahon) and fretful Sean (Dylan Walsh), two Miami plastic surgeons with questionable professional ethics and disordered personal lives. Are they lovable? No. Are they watchable? Compulsively so.

The 90-minute premiere airing July 22 tries too hard to keep topping itself with ever more graphic operating-room scenes and an increasingly outrageous plot that involves a vile criminal seeking surgery for disguise. But the opener entirely succeeds at drawing us into Christian and Sean's world and clearing the ground in which the characters can grow. McMahon (Charmed) is perfect as a satyr with a seductive smile, an unblinking eye for cash and long-smoldering feelings for his medical partner's unhappy wife, Julia (superbly played by Joely Richardson). Walsh fares well in the difficult role of a man who swings back and forth between self-righteousness and complete moral confusion. Like so many of his patients, Sean has problems that run too deep to be fixed with a nip here and a tuck there.

BOTTOM LINE: Successful operation

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