September 26, 2007 / 12:51 AM / 12 years ago

"Dirty Sexy Money" a tiresome family soap

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - If it’s true we are fascinated by the lives of the very rich, then “Dirty Sexy Money” may be the cure. In this curious mix of “Dynasty” and “Arrested Development,” just about the only thing the wealthy accomplish is keeping us from feeling inferior to them.

The cast of "Dirty Sexy Money" in a promotional image courtesy of ABC. REUTERS/Handout

Part drama, part mystery and part unintentional comedy, “Dirty Sexy Money,” the creation of executive producer Craig Wright, is full of well-drawn characters. Unfortunately, except for the two played by Peter Krause and Donald Sutherland, each is more tiresome and off-putting than the last.

Krause plays Nick George, whose father had the all-consuming job of being personal attorney to the Darlings, the wealthiest family in New York. Nick’s dad was such a workaholic that Nick’s mother couldn’t stand it and left, thereby depriving little Nick of a close relationship with either parent.

As the series begins, Nick’s dad has died in a plane crash. By now, Nick is a lawyer himself, specializing in low-paying but fulfilling work for charitable groups. The funeral was to be Nick’s last contact with the Darlings.

However, Tripp Darling (Donald Sutherland), the family patriarch, thinks Nick was the only one who could replace his dad. “No one seems right,” he tells Nick. “You’re the guy.” That may not seem sufficiently persuasive to overcome a lifetime of negativity, but when coupled with a big salary and an offer of $10 million a year for charity, the deal is sealed. Nick assures his wife that, this time, things will be different. Of course.

In just hours, the five adult Darling children start calling. Patrick the politician (William Baldwin) needs help dumping his transgender hooker girlfriend. Karen (Natalie Zea) needs a pre-nup for her fourth husband but still carries an Olympic-sized torch for Nick.

Juliet (Samaire Armstrong), a Paris Hilton wannabe, is upset that she got a theatrical role just because her father bankrolled the production. Ne’er-do-well Jeremy (Seth Gabel), Juliet’s twin, is arrested after “winning” a yacht used to smuggle illegal aliens.

Finally, there’s the Rev. Brian (Glenn Fitzgerald), a priest so malicious and evil he could give child abusers a good name. He wants Nick to figure out a way to get a boy into an exclusive private school without having to acknowledge his own paternity.

As the commercial says, there are some things money can’t buy, and Nick starts to realize his life may be one of them. So he quits, then discovers that his dad’s plane crash may not have been an accident. Then he goes back to work for the Darlings.

Photography, set design and Peter Horton’s vital direction are flawless, but the series, even after a second episode, is stuck in a rut. After awhile, the insane predicaments of these overprivileged characters are more pathetic than funny. The murder-mystery element is just a tiny part of the show. As for the money, it is not so much dirty or sexy as it is dull and overbearing.

Cast:

Nick George: Peter Krause

Tripp Darling: Donald Sutherland

Letitia Darling: Jill Clayburgh

Patrick Darling: William Baldwin

Karen Darling: Natalie Zea

Brian Darling: Glenn Fitzgerald

Juliet Darling: Samaire Armstrong

Jeremy Darling: Seth Gabel

Lisa George: Zoe McLellan

Freddy: Daniel Cosgrove

Executive producers: Craig Wright, Greg Berlanti, Matthew Gross, Peter Horton, Bryan Singer; Consulting producer: Andrew Ackerman; Producer: Jane Raab; Co-producer: Shana Fischer Huber; Director: Peter Horton; Teleplay-creator: Craig Wright; Director of photography: Oliver Bokelberg; Production designer: Dan Leigh; Editor: Tanya Swerling; Music: Peter Nashel; Set decorator: Ron Von Blomberg; Casting: Mary Jo Slater, Steve Brooksbank, Beth Blanks.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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