Spend ten episodes in Never-Never Land.
and viewers wouldn’t have it any other way.
In Peter Pan, it was the title character himself who never wanted to grow up and kept trying to inspire the exact same attitude in members of the Darling family. In critically acclaimed playwright-turned-television producer, scribe, and creator Craig Wright’s sinfully sudsy and satirically salacious new dramedy, Dirty Sexy Money, it’s the other way around.
Starring Six Feet Under’s Peter Krause as the straight-laced and serious lawyer Nick George, the pilot introduces us to another privileged family, given the tongue-in-cheek name of “The Darlings,” who have never seemed to grow up either. This time around, it’s not the outside agitator “Peter” (or in this case Nick) leading the call for the temptation for childish behavior and petty, reckless deeds but the entire Darling clan themselves as Nick is lured into their world of astronomical billionaire wealth and ridiculous privilege when he’s talked into becoming the family attorney.
The viewer quickly learns that Nick spent his entire childhood suffering because of the family’s grasp on his father, the beloved Dutch George. In fact, Dutch's devotion to the Darlings drove Nick’s perpetually ignored mother to abandon them and caused undeniable strain in his relationship with his father. And although he had to share his dad with every member of the Darlings and their capricious whims, Nick is drawn into the same arrangement for two irresistible reasons. The first consists of the fact that with all of their wealth, he’ll finally be able to make a positive change in his community, doing the type of pro bono and philanthropic work of which he’d always dreamed. But the second is far less saintly and much more sinister as after his father died in a plane crash under mysterious circumstances, Nick has decided to find out what happened to his father along with which (if any) Darling is responsible and make them pay
The Family Discusses Nick’s Employment:
Unfortunately, soon Nick’s art dealer wife Lisa (Zoe McLellan) and daughter Kiki (Chloe Moretz) are relegated to the sidelines as he follows in his father’s footsteps. And unfortunately he begins to spend far too much time away from home while negotiating everything from the prenuptial agreement for his old flame Karen Darling (the hilarious, scene-stealing Natalie Zea) as she ponders walking down the plank with her less-than-stellar fourth husband to be, Freddy Mason (Daniel Cosgrove). When he's not busy with Karen, there's always getting Jeremy Darling (the show’s first officially confirmed cast member, the talented Seth Gabel) out of whatever bout of trouble he’s gotten himself into whether it’s erroneously being picked up for international human smuggling or closing the Brooklyn Bridge for a birthday party.
Perhaps the most scandalous plotline of the show surrounds an excellent William Baldwin as the attorney general and aspiring senator Patrick Darling, who on the surface has a picture perfect life and marriage, but hides a rather shocking secret in his ongoing relationship with the transgendered cosmetology student named Carmelita (a gorgeous Candis Cayne). While Carmelita is not only arguably the love of his life and indeed one of the show’s most morally sound characters, her very existence on the show is “socially groundbreaking” as Wright notes in a DVD featurette on the actress called The Other Woman: Candis Cayne. Instead of providing a role that could’ve easily been treated either for laughter’s sake or as a platform for an overbearing “message,” Wright chose to use the show “to remind” people that “there are all kinds of ways to be human,” but of course, Patrick’s traditional and extremely ambitious father Tripp Darling (Hollywood veteran Donald Sutherland) is determined to persuade his son to kick her to the curb.
Providing the greatest and most reliable comic relief is Zea’s Karen, who harbors a flagrant crush on Nick with an undying passion to get back together with the married lawyer no matter what the cost. Whether it’s hitch-hiking a ride on the private family jet to crash an Italian trip with Nick and his wife or considering canceling her latest wedding, the discord between Karen and his wife Lisa strengthens throughout the season until at last Lisa must confront Karen. The only thing is, Darlings don’t play by the rules and they don’t take threats kindly.
An Awkward Double Date in Italy:
“Stay Away From My Husband:”
While the sexually secure Karen flaunts her stuff, her younger sister and Jeremy’s sweet but Paris Hilton-like childish twin Juliet (Samaire Armstrong) battles insecurity over her latest acting performance to a rivalry with her old best friend Natalie Kimpton (Tamara Feldman) who had the audacity to steal her signature bangs. However, the rest of the Darlings have far greater matters at stake.
And indeed, it’s the other Darling son, the Reverend Brian Darling (Glenn Fitzgerald) who is hiding an even greater secret that’s quickly revealed in the season’s earliest episodes as we learned that Brian — a family man much like Patrick — has illegitimately fathered a child. One of the sharpest written characters on the show and played to enviable perfection by Fitzgerald as arguably the most unlikable character (who must hide true emotion below bitterness at all times), I was fascinated to learn that Minnesota native Craig Wright, who holds a Master’s in Divinity, may be culling from his own background. Although he claims that all characters contain a bit of himself and on the DVD featurette shares that Nick’s relationship with the Darlings reminds him of his own relationship as a playwright with Hollywood, it’s Brian who other crew members say reflect the show’s creator the most. Yet this being a soap opera, of course, he’s far more prone to deceit than anyone could be in reality.
For, when his old lover leaves their son with Brian in the hopes that he’ll be able to give him a better education and life, the morally questionable Brian panics and forces his son (also named Brian) to pretend he is a Swedish orphan named Gustav whose parents had perished in a bullet train accident. Of course, after an evening of bible study prompts young Brian to ask “What would Jesus do?” he decides to come clean, approaching his stepmother fittingly in the bath.
While one would assume that is all the drama one show could handle, more mysteries are revealed concerning the main premise of the pilot episode — namely, just what exactly happened to Nick’s father, Dutch. After learning about a large check written to an airplane mechanic who worked on the plane that killed his father, finding a briefcase filled with a huge file on the mysterious “techno-philanthropist” Simon Elder (Blair Underwood), and discovering that the Darling matriarch, Letitia (Jill Clayburgh) had had an affair with his father for more than forty years, Nick realizes that while he finds clues on a daily basis, what he really needs is answers.
Adding his own brand of smoldering sexuality to the show — which as of late seems to be his trademark — appearing up on countless series to add some sizzle, this time around Blair Underwood looks as though he may stay awhile. Given a fascinating backstory as Simon Elder that I won’t even dream of revealing except to say it contains a mostly unknown piece of history, he makes a grand entrance in what Orson Welles once said is the ultimate star role in that his character is discussed at great length for several episodes before he’s ever seen. Not to mention, Underwood lends another much needed sense of Darling-free mystery to the show.
Meet Simon Elder:
Yet there appears to be something in his easygoing charm and bravado that doesn’t quite sit right, nor do the confident smiles of Tripp or most of the Darling clan. But in a world where plenty of people are ready to do their dirty work and vaults are filled around the city with gold and jewels for whatever blackmail needs may come one’s way, just who is telling the truth and whom can Nick trust? While of course, this isn’t solved in the first season, some major revelations are revealed throughout and viewers held their breaths in anticipation from one episode to the next when promos like this hit the airwaves.
The show is soon to be released in a wonderfully packaged three-DVD set that contains tons of bonus material including some fascinating commentary, bloopers, and deleted scenes. However my favorites were the behind the scenes featurettes that let you in on how the world of the Darlings is created (shot in L.A. with green screen backdrops to make it look like New York in the post-production), as well as the elaborate set decoration and couture clothes. Viewers who enjoyed ABC’s hit soap won’t be disappointed.
Additionally, it offers a second chance to get caught up with the brilliant writing and multi-faceted plot filled with secrets, deception, intrigue, romance, and comedy with ten jam-packed episodes, whether you were a devoted fan or hoping to tune in to the launch of the second season in a few weeks, which will find Lucy Liu added to the cast. Enhanced for 16x9 televisions and transferred in beautiful digital widescreen with French, Spanish and English subtitles as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, on DVD, the show looks better than ever, without the annoyance of commercials and reels you in, much like Nick, with its flirtations and confrontations all begging to be watched in a mini Dirty Sexy Money home theatre styled marathon when it hits shelves on September 16. And for an equally wicked double feature of the rich and careless, be sure to couple the show with a screening of the first season of Gossip Girl, also new to DVD shelves.
Interview with the DSM Cast: