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Every year there are at least 15-20 new shows that debut on either ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX. These shows are supposedly the “cream of the crop” of nearly 100 “pilots” that are created before the big networks create their new TV schedule each year. After all of the hard work, though, only a handful of shows survive to see a second season. Most new shows quickly get dumped within the first year due mostly to lack of ratings. Some years are better for networks than others, and luckily for ABC the 2007/2008 “strike-shortened” TV season was good to them in terms of new television series. Their entire Wednesday night lineup from last year featured new shows, and all 3 of them are back this year for a second season. Perhaps the most underrated show on ABC that debuted last year on Wednesday nights was Dirty Sexy Money.
Dirty Sexy Money centers on Nick George (Peter Krause), who has been living in the shadow of the Darling family his whole life. Now as an adult, George is leading the perfect life as an idealistic lawyer. That is until his father’s suspicious death in a plane crash. The wealthy Darlings of New York have asked Nick to take over his father’s job as their personal lawyer, but the money that will allow him the freedom to be an altruistic do-gooder is only part of the picture. That same money pulls him into the dubious behavior of the Darling family. But Nick must get close to the Darling family, because he knows that it will allow him to find out what happened to his father and get revenge on whoever is responsible.
From the outside, Dirty Sexy Money looks like every other prime-time soap opera before it, and really it is. However, this series doesn’t hide that fact, instead it celebrates this element to the show. This show is thick on the drama, but there is plenty of romance, comedy, and mystery weaved into the storylines that it never feels too melodramatic. Not only does Nick have to deal with the individual issues of each member of the Darling family, but there is also the underlying mystery, of what happened to his father, that he must try to solve along the way. The writing is definitely smart on this show as you get the sense that every idea is carefully plotted for the long run. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the first season only had 10 episodes and you are left wanting more.
But the best part of this show are the intriguing characters and great actors that play those characters. It’s hard to find an uninteresting character on this show. The Darling family is filled with interesting characters starting with the children, which include Nick’s old girlfriend and marriage-a-holic, Karen Darling (Natalie Zea); trouble-making and rebellious, Jeremy Darling (Seth Gabel); sweet, but insecure and childish twin sister of Jeremy, Juliet (Samaire Armstrong); attorney general and aspiring senator Patrick Darling (William Baldwin), who happens to have an affair with a younger transgendered cosmetology student; and Reverend Brian Darling (Glenn Fitzgerald) who has illegitimately fathered a child. In addition, the patriarch of the Darling family, Tripp (Donald Sutherland) may be behind the death of Nick’s father, because the matriarch of the Darling family, Letitia (Jill Clayburgh) is revealed to have had an affair with Nick’s father for more than forty years. Each of these characters are acted to perfection. Even the supporting cast, led by Blair Underwood who plays the mysterious “techno-philanthropist” Simon Elder, is fantastic.
The cast and crew of Dirty Sexy Money are probably thanking the writers for going on strike now. The first season of this new show was only 10 episodes, but every episode was solid. You are left wanting to know more about the multi-layered characters and fascinating storylines. This series is pure soapy fun that never feels overly melodramatic. Whether this show keep that momentum going for a full season’s worth of episodes this year is something we will have to see. There is no doubt, though, that Dirty Sexy Money has the best chance of becoming the next big breakout hit show for ABC.
Episode 1 – Pilot
When attorney Nick George’s father dies, Nick takes over his law practice and must take care of the Darlings and their problems, including human trafficking, illegitimate children, and illicit affairs.
Episode 2 – The Lions
Nick searches for his father’s killer. When the family has a photo shoot Juliet refuses to be there. Patrick has to deal with his father who wants him to run for the senate.
Episode 3 – The Italian Banker
Nick tries to fix things when the Darlings are blackmailed over a sex tape starring a family member. Patrick is upset over being forced to end things with Carmelita. Brian’s wife gets suspicious over the Swedish orphan he brought home. Jeremy tries to keep it quiet about him and Natalie, but when they all show up at a fundraiser for Patrick things get out of control.
Episode 4 – The Chiavennasca
Tripp sends Nick to a vineyard in Italy to get information about his father’s death. Nick decides to bring Lisa along to spend some time with her away from the Darlings but Freddy and Karen are following them everywhere they go. After Leticia admits she was unfaithful to him, Tripp decides to find out if all of his children are really his.
Episode 5 – The Bridge
Nick finds he has a lot in common with Simon, Tripp’s nemesis. In a case of sibling rivalry Jeremy and Juliet decide to try and outdo each other for their separate birthday parties. Brian Jr. wants to tell Brian’s wife the truth. Karen tries to get Freddy into a fancy country club.
Episode 6 – The Game
A high-stakes poker game pits Simon Elder against Tripp. Simon tells Nick he will help him find the man who killed his father if Tripp puts up something he wants very badly. Karen needs a favor from her irresistible ex-husband, and Jeremy gets a real job working as a parking valet.
Episode 7 – The Wedding
Karen is getting married, but her strong desire for Nick might be more of a distraction than she could have ever thought. Brian Jr.’s mother comes back into town trying to get her son back, but the once arrogant Brian has another idea.
Episode 8 – The Country House
Thanksgiving has arrived and Nick George wants to spend the day with his wife and daughter, but Tripp has another idea. Tripp wants Nick to set up a meeting with Simon Elder so Tripp and Simon can talk face-to-face once and for all. Meanwhile, Letitia helps Karen try to get closer to Nick. Brian fights to keep his ex-girlfriend, Andrea, from taking his son away from him while Jeremy goes on a first date with Sofia.
Episode 9 – The Watch
This flashback episode reveals secrets about Dutch (Nick’s father) and the relationships he had with Nick, Tripp, and Letitia. Karen’s intimate view towards Nick is put on hold as she takes a liking to Simon Elder. Brian’s attempt to get his son takes a turn he didn’t expect and Jeremy continues to hide how much he is worth from Sofia.
Episode 10 – The Nutcracker
Nick learns Simon and Karen are secretly together, but refuses to say why it truly bothers him. Karen doesn’t attend the family tradition of watching “The Nutcracker” in order to meet a mysterious person. Brian’s suspension from the ministry makes him look elsewhere for a job, and Letitia suggests he go to Tripp for guidance. Meanwhile, Juliet has a visitor from the Seychelles, and Carmelita tells Patrick she thinks she’s being watched by someone.
The video is given in anamorphic widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is enhanced for 16X9 TVs. The transfer is great with minimal grain. ABC shows always look great on TV, so you wouldn’t expect anything but greatness for the DVD’s video quality. No problems at all.
The audio included is in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. No major problems here either and the overall quality is a little better than your average TV on DVD set.
Audio Commentaries –
There are 3 audio commentaries for 3 different episodes this season. Craig Wright (creator/executive producer), Greg Berlanti (executive producer), Matthew Gross (executive producer), Peter Krause (actor), Natalie Zea (actress), and Peter Horton (director) comment on the “Pilot” episode. Craig Wright (creator/executive producer), Peter Krause (actor), Seth Gabel (actor), Zoe McLellan (actress), Jess Brickman (writer), and Peter Elkoff (writer) comment on “The Bridge” episode. Craig Wright (creator/executive producer), Williams Baldwin (actor), Glenn Fitzgerald (actor), Candis Cayne (actress), Will Shadley (actor), and Andrew Bernstein (director) comment on “The Watch” episode. It can get a little bit overboard with so many people talking at once on these commentaries, but for the most past there is a good mix of information and entertainment.
“The Road To Excess: Making Dirty Sexy Money” Featurette –
This runs 20 minutes and it’s all about the making of show. This is your typical “behind-the-scenes/making of” featurette. There is in-sight into how this show came to be, so that is always interesting to find out.
“Enter the Penthouse” Featurette –
This runs 7 minutes and it’s all about the lavish sets of the show. Pretty neat to see how they create all of these sets.
“Haute Couture” Featurette –
This runs 7 minutes and it’s all about clothes each character on the show wears. Again, fairly intriguing.
“The Other Woman: Candis Cayne” Featurette –
This runs 5 minutes and it’s all about the transgender actress, Candis Cayne, who plays the woman who is having an affair with Patrick Darling, Carmelita. We get an in-depth bio of her character and the actress herself. This is definitely one of the most unique and diverse characters on any TV show today. Very fascinating.
There is 3 minutes worth of gags and bloopers from the first season. Not really funny.
Deleted Scenes –
There are 8 scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the season and they total 14 minutes. Nothing “must-watch”.
Everyone should at least give this show a rental and give it a chance. Only absolute haters of prime-time soaps will probably dislike this show. It’s a short season, which only benefits this show, so it’s worth a look. If you watched every episode when it aired on TV, there is not a whole lot of extras on this set, so if you are only casual fan of the show it might not be worth a purchase. But if season two can keep up the momentum and turn out to be just as great, then this set will become a “no-brainer must-buy”.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment presents Dirty Sexy Money – Season 1. Created by Craig Wright. Starring Peter Krause, Zoe McLellan, Donald Sutherland, Jill Clayburgh, William Baldwin, Natalie Zea, Seth Gabel, Samaire Armstrong, Glenn Fitzgerald, Blair Underwood, and Lucy Liu. Running time: 426 minutes. Rated: NOT RATED. Released on DVD: September 16, 2008. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Donald Sutherland