From Craig Wright ("Lost", "Brothers & Sisters", and "Six Feet Under"), "Dirty Sexy Money" is about a lot of things: greed, family, lust, deceit, power and a touch of mystery. "Dirty Sexy Money" is about Nick George, a do-good lawyer with a loving family, and his father’s clients, The Darlings. The pilot opens with Nick George (Peter Krause, "Six Feet Under") telling us about his dad who just died in a plane crash. From there, the story unfolds as we learn about Nick’s relationship with his father: his father was so invested in taking care of the pretentious, wealthy, extravagant Darlings that he didn’t take the time for Nick. So when Nick sits down with Tripp Darling (Donald Sutherland) who offers him 5 million dollars a year (on top of his salary) to apply towards charitable projects if he takes over his late dad’s position as the Darling’s family lawyer, you just know things aren’t going to go smoothly.
Within the first ten minutes, it’s obvious why Nick would never want to work for the Darlings. There’s the Darling’s reverend child, Brian (Glenn Fitzgerald) who seems about as unholy as the rest of the group, Karen Darling (Natalie Zea) who is in getting married for the fourth time despite being in love with Nick, Eldest son Patrick (Williams Baldwin) who tries to keep his affair with his transgender lover Carmelita (Candis Cayne) secret while running for office, Twins Juliet and Jeremy (Samaire Armstrong, Seth Gabel), and then there’s the parents of the Darling group, Tripp and Letitia (Jill Clayburgh) who have their sincere moments and, as developed characters do, their bad. Still, Nick takes the job, he takes on mending the upside down lives of the Darlings. All in a days work.
Just as Nick decides he wants to stop working for the Darlings, he discovers a bit of truth outlined in lies that pulls him in and keeps him working for the family he resented his entire childhood. Apparently, there were other things in Nick’s fathers past that may have caused his father’s death. Nick has reason to believe that one of the Darling’s may have been responsible. When the plane is recovered, there’s no body, which means no proof….but just wait - there’s always more. Nick sets out to discover who was behind his father’s death. There’s a bit of a whodunit feel here as Nick tries to figure out who killed his father, or at least who had the motive. There are a lot of supporting characters, but it never overwhelms the series as the storylines blend together and the actors compliment each other wonderfully. The addition of Blair Underwood as Simon Elder, a mysterious wealthy man who knew Nick's father and has reason to distrust the Darlings, is a perfect fit.
On the surface, "Dirty Sexy Money" is full of family crises, secrets, betrayal and outlandish behavior. It’s Nick’s job to try and piece all of the chaos back together while trying to keep himself grounded. Beneath the surface, there is more. There are privileged people who are looking for things everyone is looking for. While the first season didn’t fully delve as far beneath the surface as it could, it manages to grow quite a bit from the pilot to the final episode of the season. There are only ten episodes in the first season and it was picked up for another season.
While I remain a little mixed on the show overall, I do know that there are some scenes that make "Dirty Sexy Money" incredible to watch, as well as moments of great depth and superb character development. And then there are moments that feel like wasted scenes, moments that could have been comedic greats or at least something more than forgettable. Despite my indecision, one thing is clear, Dirty Sexy Money is more than I expected. Especially Donald Sutherland who gives an incredible performance as Tripp Darling. Every scene he was in was, by far, the best of each episode, especially those he shared with Peter Krause or Jill Clayburgh who are also excellent in their roles.
VIDEO: "Dirty Sexy Money" is presented by Buena Vista Home Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Presentation quality was generally terrific, aside from a few minor concerns. Sharpness and detail were occasionally a bit problematic, but despite a few soft moments, most scenes looked crisp and detailed. While some slight artifacting was occasionally spotted, no edge enhancement or other concerns were seen. The show's warm color palette looked bright and bold, with nice saturation and no smearing or other issues. Black level looked solid and flesh tones looked natural, as well.
SOUND: The show's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack offered some minor surround use for ambience and music, but otherwise, this was a dialogue-driven audio track. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and effects.
EXTRAS: Deleted Scenes
There are eight deleted scenes, most of which add very little to the overall development of the series. There are, however a few gems that I wish they could have left in, including a scene between Nick and his secretary Daisy (Laura Margolis, one of the most watchable and enjoyable females in the series, despite her few scenes) where they discuss Nick’s past with Karen.
“The Watch” includes commentary with creator/executive producer Craig Wright, actors William Baldwin, Glenn Fitzgerald, Candis Cayne, Will Shadley, Director Andrew Bernstein and Writer Yahlin Chang. Discussion begins with Glenn Fitzgerald sharing why he took the role of Rev. Brian Darling. Last minute rewrites are also talked about and how they were trying to develop the characters further. There are some lags in conversation here, but the group manages to keep the discussion flowing as they talk about what’s taking place in certain scenes, the actor’s response to watching themselves and taking on their larger than life characters. Something that is funny is how the group starts to observe things about the characters that may work their way into the series further down the line. It’s an interesting commentary and worth a listen.
“Pilot” includes commentary with creator/executive producer Craig Wright, Executive Producers Greg Berlanti & Matthew Gross, actors Peter Krause, Natalie Zea, director Peter Horton. There’s an interesting tidbit divulged here, letting fans know that they can’t tell you what happened to Nick George’s mother after she left (flashback scene), but if you tune into season two you just might find out. This is an interesting commentary with some fun information like how the pilot was going to be centered around an interview with Nick. There are definitely some moments here where the group seems to be watching the pilot, but there are enough bits of conversation that make it worth listening to.
“The Bridge” includes commentary with creator/executive producer Craig Wright, actors Peter Krause, Seth Gabel, Zoe McLellan, and writers Jess Brickman and Peter Elkoff. An interesting commentary about the importance of this episode, as well as Blair Underwood’s character, Simon Elder. Character development is also discussed here, as well as the special effects used to make the scenes more believable. Craig Wright tries to keep the conversation going by asking questions. There are moments where the group is drawn into the episode and stop talking, but the eventually pick up where they left off.
The Road to Excess: Making "Dirty Sexy Money"
This is a general “behind the scenes” that discuss the show with directors, creators, producers and cast members. Craig Wright gives his take on the show when he says, “I think the show is essentially a conversation between Nick and Tripp about what are the benefits and pitfalls of having all this money.” There are some behind the scene clips of pilot production taking place in New York before moving the series to Los Angeles. Once they moved to L.A., they started using green screen visual effects to bring New York to life around the larger-than-life characters. There’s a lot of discussion about the cast and the behind the scenes look focuses on the characters individually as well. This is a nice look at "Dirty Sexy Money" with clips between discussions.
Enter the Penthouse: The VIP Set Tour
A look at the lavish sets in "Dirty Sexy Money". Production Designer, Steven Wolff gives a tour of some of the sets that represent the world of the Darlings. It’s an interesting behind the scene/set look at how the production design fools the audience by buying some pieces that are inexpensive, and others that are illusions (Such as an iron door that is nothing more than a print cut out and placed between two pieces of glass). It’s fun to see how they made the Darlings world look so impeccable and expensive.
Haute Couture: Dressing The Darlings
A look at the clothes that dress the family that has a seemingly endless supply of money. Costume Director, Roberta Haze talks about how the characters need to look upscale, so they go to outlet malls to get designer brands on a budget. Wardrobe Supervisor, Brian Mahon shows some of his favorite pieces. They discuss how the clothes help define who the characters are. Some cast members also discuss their clothing.
The Other Woman: Candis Cayne
A look at Candis Cayne who plays Carmelita, Patrick Darling’s transgender lover. This discusses the process of finding the perfect person to play Carmelita, as well as Candis’ personal experience having the first continuing transgender role in a series. It’s a lovely look at how everyone took care to be sure that the relationship between Candis and Patrick was portrayed as two people who really love each other. There are also some brief interviews with fans of the show about Candis Cayne and her role as Carmelita.
Tripp Ups: Dirty Sexy Bloopers
Like any blooper reel, there are some hits and misses. There’s some accidents, some flubbed lines, some laughs, and of course some on set antics. Enjoyable short collection of bloopers for fans.
Sneak Peeks: Ugly Betty: The Complete Second Season
Lost: The Complete Fourth Season
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Dirty Sexy Money
Brothers and Sisters
Final Thoughts: Although this short first season of the series is mildly uneven overall, "Dirty Sexy Money" certainly connects at times and the cast is mostly terrific. Hopefully future seasons can build on the promise that's seen here. The DVD set offers very good audio/video quality, as well as a very nice variety of extras. Recommended.