"Dirty Sexy Money" Recap #1.01 Pilot
The day I read a rough outline of the ABC pilot "Dirty Sexy Money" in February of this year I knew it would be love at first sight. What I didn't know is that Craig Wright and Greg Berlanti were about to come up with a witty and wacky pilot that may easily evolve into my new #1 show on television.
The escapist saga of Nick George (Peter Krause) and the notorious Darling clan of New York (whose net value runs into billions of dollars), begins with a plane crash that kills Dutch George, Nick's father and the Darlings' attorney and shenanigan-fixer.
The family patriarch Tripp Darling (the superb Donald Sutherland) offers Nick, who promised his loving wife to stay away from the Darlings for good, 5 million dollars for his charitable projects on top of a lucrative salary to take over his father's job. As Tripp explains, Johnny Cochran and Bill Clinton were not available for obvious reasons.
Despite his prior convictions, Nick is intrigued and asks for 10 million. As Tripp replies "Done!" one is to wonder, has Nick just made a pact with the devil?
Before the Georges have had a chance to celebrate, Tripp's kooky offspring begin to demand their money's worth.
Ne'er do well and coke-head Jeremy Darling (Seth Gabel) gets himself arrested while unknowingly smuggling a group of immigrants into the US on a yacht he won gambling. He possesses zero self-confidence and believes his father thinks he's an idiot.
Wannabe thespian Juliet Darling (Samaire Armstrong) learns her daddy bankrolled the play she unsuccessfully auditioned for and in a fit of hysteria wishes she's dead
The deliciously vindictive man of cloth, Brian Darling (Glenn Fitzgerald) tries to get his illegitimate son enrolled in a private academy and threatens the principal. Brian also hates George and thinks both he and his late father just inserted themselves into the family to squeeze money out of them.
The oblivious socialite Karen Darling (Natalie Zea) needs a prenuptial agreement prior to her fourth marriage, although she still adores her childhood love - George who as she points out to fiance Freddy - deflowered her.
NY state attorney general Patrick Darling (William Baldwin) is married with children, but has a weakness for his transsexual lover (Candis Cane). He is not able to break up with her, so he asks Nick to do it for him.
Finally, there's the boozy but swell matriarch Letitia Darling (Jill Clayburgh) who appears to be crushed by Dutch George's death more than anyone. Later, Nick gasps for air when he learns from Karen that Letitia and his father had an affair for 40 years.
By the end of the hour, an exhausted Nick exchanges fists with Brian on the Darling marble floor in the lobby, witnesses Juliet's suicide attempt, leaves his job with the Darlings, persuades Patrick to be the man and break up with Carmelita himself and learns there may be more to his father's death than meets the eye.
In the closing moments, a determined Nick returns to his job, but decides to find out who killed his father and make them pay for it.
The cast is stellar, the sets are impeccable, the execution is brilliant. Even the use of music is hilarious: Led Zeppelin rock out as the dysfunctional Darlings arrive for the funeral.
Also, each family member gets a different ringtone on Nick's phone - it was fun trying to guess who's calling when the phone played tunes like "Born to be Wild" or "Pretty Woman."
I loved the performances of the cast. Inept actors could easily portray the Darlings as cartoons, but the cast manages to reflect the humor, the tragedy and the emotional depth behind each character.
Part glossy soap opera, part witty satire, "Dirty Sexy Money" is a gem of a show which has made it to the very top of my must-see TV list.
Here are now my favorite lines. They are not as funny as the situations in which they are said or the tone in which they are delivered:
Brian (to Nick's daughter at the funeral): "I'm sorry grandpa's dead."
Reporter (to an arrested Jeremy Darling, barely audible): "Are you getting back together with Kylie Minogue?"
Peter Bogdanovich (about Juliet's acting): "She's uhm... She's not good."
Karen (after Nick's wife ironically excuses herself for interrupting her tender moment with Nick): "Oh, that's OK."
Tripp (to Nick after the wreckage of the helicopter in which his father died was retrieved): "Take my helicopter."