Julian McMahon and Dylan Walsh by Prashant Gupta/FX
Just when you thought you'd had your fill of those over-the-top plastic surgeons on FX's Nip/Tuck, they've shaken things up and moved those hot docs Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) and Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) to the world capital of face-lifts and body augmentation, Los Angeles, for the fifth season. (The first of 22 new episodes will premiere in October; it hasn't yet been determined how this season will be broken up.)

Series creator Ryan Murphy took the stage Thursday at a Television Critics Association panel in Beverly Hills to describe the new season, and he and the rest of the cast certainly sold me - including Joely Richardson, back after taking a personal hiatus for part of last season; John Hensley and Kelly Carlson as newlyweds Matt and Kimber; and Roma Maffia as nurse Liz, whose character travels West after being offered double her previous salary. (The core cast will be reassembled in L.A. over the first three or four episodes, Murphy says.)

Guest stars will include Lauren Hutton, Jennifer Coolidge, Portia de Rossi (as an acupuncturist), the return of Rosie O'Donnell for several episodes as Dawn Budge, and, in what sounds like a much more promising development, Bradley Cooper and Oliver Platt as part of a "show-within-a-show" subplot that finds Christian and Sean being hired as medical consultants for a TV series about, what else, plastic surgeons.

Murphy describes the fictional "Hearts & Scalpels" as "the worst medical show that has ever been made. It is run by Oliver Platt, who plays me - in a weird way." Alias' Cooper plays the show's lead, "the world's biggest cad/plastic surgeon." (Sound familiar?) Murphy says the fictional show "is kind of like Nip/Tuck, and not. What happens is that it's so bad that they hire our guys to be the medical advisers, which is fun" and it allows Nip/Tuck to satirize itself. "The show has always been a satire, and I think moving it to L.A. [is] even more so."

Richardson describes the new season as "a whole fresh start. Certainly with me and Dylan, we were done with that kitchen. There was nothing left we could do in that kitchen. Thank god we don't have to go there anymore."

Murphy says the look of the show will be "shinier and bigger," and in the greater thematic scheme of things, Season 5 will explore how these doctors, who were such big fishes in the smaller pond of Miami, will readjust in their forties to swimming in a much bigger pool of professional sharks. As with so many who go to Hollywood to pursue their dreams, it's all about reinvention this season.

In for the biggest sea change is Christian, who will "switch parts in an interesting way" with Sean, says Murphy. "Dylan's character becomes much more competent and instantly successful, and Christian has to work a little harder at it and is in Sean's shadow for a while."

The Nip/Tuck panel was followed by a session introducing FX's next big thing, the terrific legal thriller Damages (premiering July 24 for 13 episodes), starring Glenn Close as a ruthless, enigmatic trial superstar, Ted Danson as a tycoon she's pursuing in court and Australian ingenue Rose Byrne as Close's initially naive protégé. We've seen the first two episodes, and they're dark and dazzling.

I'm glad to see FX back in top form with a new drama, after having been repulsed by Dirt and disappointed by The Riches (both of which have been renewed for a second season, so you have to think it will be a slam dunk to keep Damages around for a while). If Nip/Tuck's new change of venue results in a re-energized show, that's even better news for what has long been one of my favorite, and certainly one of cable's most daring, networks.