NEW YORK – Take two fabulously studly surgeons, a love triangle and several nauseatingly lifelike operations and you've got cable's latest gritty roller-coaster ride.
Stay tuned for Nip/Tuck (search),"the plastic surgery drama that promises an antidote to the Extreme Makeover credo that happiness is a vacuum pump away.
The series, premiering on FX July 22, follows the ethically-challenged exploits of the sexy, sleazy Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) and the gorgeous, guileless Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) as their thriving plastic surgery practice beautifies Miami, two breasts at a time - while Sean's beleaguered wife, Julia (Joely Richardson), wrangles herself an impromptu "consultation" from Christian.
But the real drama is on the operating table. From fat suctioning to skin slicing to oozing blood - no effect is left to the imagination.
"I keep telling our medical advisor, 'What you're doing is far too violent. You're breaking this nose far too hard.' She'll say, 'This is nothing!' " says show creator Ryan Murphy (search), a former journalist who previously created WB's Popular.
"This isn't a show that glamorizes plastic surgery. These are morality tales about the price you pay for beauty that don't always have happy endings."
Murphy enlisted the talents of The Burman Studio, Inc, an Oscar-winning special effects house that uses real meat under prosthetic skin and creates body parts so lifelike that McMahon once tickled a mannequin's foot to say hello.
Adding to the realism is Linda Klein, an emergency room nurse and advisor to Six Feet Under, whose handiwork appears in the surgery footage.
"We named all the prosthetics and bodies, and we're now building a closet for all the leftover carcasses and body parts from the operations," says Murphy, who became interested in plastic surgery while writing an undercover expose of a Beverly Hills practice during his reporting days.
"It looks like a serial killer was involved."
Meanwhile, this show will probably qualify its stars for medical degrees.
"When we first started dealing with the blood and guts, it was pretty disgusting," says Walsh. "With a nose job, you use these tools that look like a hammer and chisel, and break the nose and twist it with both hands. The cameramen would groan."
McMahon is one better. "The pilot starts with an [expletive] implant and I had to take out the scalpel and cut into the skin, and this thing looked like an [expletive]!' " he laughs.
"When I sliced into it, it felt like meat, then the fake blood started to ooze down the side of the cheeks. I just thought, 'Oh man, I don't know if I can do this all the time.' "