I actually forgot to watch this last week, which tells you just how compelling I find it. Based on this week’s episode, I don’t seem to have missed much. This was more of the same old same old, with Patrick Darling’s secret affair that everyone knows about, Brian Darling’s secret son that everyone knows about, Karen Darling’s secret love for Nick the lawyer that everyone knows about and so the list goes on. Even the addition of Blair Underwood – from LA Law! – to the cast as a speaking character, instead of a photograph, has failed to do anything other than raise an eyebrow at Casa Cregg. The eyebrow is up way high though, seeing as there seems to be a law that Blair is too cool to button up his shirts and thus has to wear medallions instead of ties. Nice.
Anyway, I’m bored with this. Even Donald Sutherland declaiming his way through every scene like it’s Shakespeare while everyone else sasses through it like they’re on Melrose Place is not enough to hold my interest. There are better things to watch, and definitely better things to review. Sorry, guys, this show was nowhere near enough fun while it lasted, so Unpopcult is done here.
Ooooh, here’s an idea! Let’s spend almost an entire episode on tiresome twin tantrums and drunken serial divorcee daughters playing gooseberry. Ooh yes!
Oooh NO. Why, writers, why? The twin storyline is only saved from complete unbearability by Seth Gabel doing a good job as boy twin Jeremy Darling, the only likeable character in the pseudo-love-triangle where his bitchy girlfriend and bitchy sister hate each other. The serial divorcee storyline is not saved by anybody. Her latest fiance had one good moment, nobody else in that plotline had any. Stop it now, people. STOP IT NOW.
A fairly entertaining episode this week concentrated almost wholly on the Darling children, which sadly meant not enough Donald Sutherland for my liking, but you can’t have everything.
This show is really a flashier, trashier Brothers and Sisters which is fair enough, if not exactly original or weighty. Something tonight’s episode in particular had in common with that show was a well-drawn sibling relationship – just as the Walkers in Brothers and Sisters seem like they really did grow up together, so too do the Darling twins. Unfortunately, they are the only ones out of the children who actually seem related to each other. The rest just seem to be in the same room every now and again, being all rich and mad. The twins bicker but they also have a believable and quite endearing closeness – it’s just a shame the girl twin Juliet is so stupendously annoying. Does anyone actually want to watch a cheap knock-off of Paris Hilton when they can see the real one on TV any time any where?
I keep reading various puff pieces telling me that Dirty Sexy Money is Dynasty for the 21st century. Can I ask why we need a Dynasty for the 21st century? I thought we had a Dynasty back in the 1980’s. Can we not just get that one on DVD? Or are Dynasties like flares and micro-skirts – inexplicably coming back into fashion every couple of decades despite their failure to make anybody at all look good?
Not that DSM, or for that matter the original Dynasty, suffers from that type of failure, oh no, everybody looks just beautiful, thank you, no issue there. The clothes are exquisite, the make-up immaculate and even the lions(!) who appeared in the Darling family photoshoot this week looked like they’d had their manes done at Vidal Sassoon.
So, yes, everybody looks pretty, and rich, but did episode 2 come up with any of the substance that episode 1 lacked? Hm. Kind of.
It was miles better than the pilot, to be fair, and I did enjoy it. The best bits yet again involved the veterans – Donald “Jack Bauer’s dad!” Sutherland and Jill “No Relation to Jack Bauer That I Know Of!” Clayburgh – as the Darling parents. They are great. Their scenes are moving and believable, and the characters are well-rounded and interesting.
Sadly, the same can’t quite be said yet for the Darling children. Last week they were cartoonish, one-dimensional and completely idiotic. This week they were, well, not quite as bad. Still caricatures, and still fairly stupid, but there seemed to be a hint of some personality and potential dimensions other than outright cliche in a couple of them. Build on that ALOT, and we might have something which isn’t just a giant take-off of Hello! magazine. Maybe.
Excuse me, but was that it? Really? I’m all for honesty being the best policy but seriously – that was all this was? Dirty deeds, supposedly sexy people and a load of money? Exactly what it says on the tin? Hm. While conspicuous consumption and brazen badness can be entertaining for a while, it also gets pretty old pretty quick. I like my superficiality with a side order of something I can chew on, thanks. This was like a cartoon for adults, which is probably unfair to some cartoons – the Simpsons, for instance, is far deeper and more profound. Reading Jed’s post below, even Horton Hears a Who! sounds deeper and more profound.
DSM was showy and shallow, which can be fun, I know, but not where every character is a caricature and every plotline slightly preposterous. For those unaware of the plot, it’s about a lawyer who goes to work for the ludicrously rich family his father worked for till he died. His job is to clean up all their messes. And they keep him very busy by making a great many messes of the type only the Hilton-level rich can make, all in a fairly charmless manner. Well, not entirely charmless, I suppose. Donald Sutherland and Jill Clayburgh are kind of likeable as the clan’s parents, but their children alternate between worthless, spineless and ridiculous. And hence, fairly tiresome to watch.
The lawyer, played by the always-reliable Peter Krause, views these shenanigans with both distaste and resignation, and there is obviously some secret reason for the family’s insistence on hanging on to him when they could easily get someone less judgemental to help them out – ie the makers are clearly trying to inject some much needed substance into the show with an overarching mystery plot and some father-issues.
On the basis of this week’s pilot, they’ll have to work alot harder. This is expensive, flashy television, but it seems to be expensive and flashy just for the sake of it. Here’s hoping that next week the makers show us there is actually something likeable and worth watching under all that glitz.