Just another example of how cable is pushing further and further ahead of network television, "The Riches" became a hit for FX, a channel that had already managed success with shows like "The Shield" and "Rescue Me". "The Riches" stars Eddie Izzard as Wayne Malloy, the head of a family of traveling con artists, which also includes: Cael Malloy (Noel Fisher), Di Di Malloy (Shannon Marie Woodward) and Sam Malloy (Aidan Mitchel). In the first episode, wife Dahlia is put on parole from prison and is picked up by Wayne, who had just done a con at a high school reunion.
After making a break from their traveling community, Wayne and his family hit the road, only to upset a former associate, who chases after them in his RV. The chase results in the former associate causing a horrible accident, and while Wayne and his family stop to try and help, they realize that they are too late. Wayne, surveying the scene, finds an envelope that contains the directions to a house the couple had just bought without seeing it. Thinking that he can make a new start, he decides that the two of them will assume the identity of the couple and take the children along. They are, according to Wayne, "stealing the American dream", using someone else's identity and their former traveling community (who's not exactly happy about it)'s cash.
As one can imagine, the rest of the family doesn't exactly take so well to the idea of settling down after living out of the back of an RV for the majority of their lives. However, they eventually try to settle in - the kids go to school, while Wayne talks his way into a job at a legal firm after impressing Hugh (Gregg Henry - while Izzard is terrific as Wayne, Henry may have worked in it, too.)
While the family finds some of the benefits of living the "American Dream", they also see the a somewhat dark side of suburbia in their peaceful new community, such as their neighbor, who pops pills. There's also the threat of members of their old community - who aren't exactly pleased with Wayne departing with their money - finding out where they are.
"The Riches" remains a flawed (for example, while Izzard is terrific, I didn't buy a few con scenes), but still quite compelling series that manages to move smoothly between dark comedy and emotional drama. There's also an undercurrent of tension as the family tries to blend into their new surroundings while worrying about their past catching up to them. Driver and Izzard offer terrific performances, as well, especially Driver as the troubled Dahlia. I also enjoyed Woodward's performance as the quick-thinking daughter.
Overall, I thought this was an entertaining series with very good performances. The writing has a few slightly iffy moments, but is generally top-notch. The series has recently been renewed for a second season, which starts on March 10th, 2008.
1. 1- 1 12 Mar 07 Pilot
2. 1- 2 19 Mar 07 Believe the Lie
3. 1- 3 26 Mar 07 Operation Education
4. 1- 4 2 Apr 07 Been There, Done That
5. 1- 5 9 Apr 07 The Big Floss
6. 1- 6 16 Apr 07 Reckless Gardening
7. 1- 7 23 Apr 07 Virgin Territory
8. 1- 8 30 Apr 07 X Spots the Mark
9. 1- 9 7 May 07 Cinderella
10. 1-10 14 May 07 This Is Your Brain on Drugs
11. 1-11 21 May 07 Anything Hugh Can Do, I Can Do Better
12. 1-12 28 May 07 It's a Wonderful Lie
13. 1-13 4 Jun 07 Waiting for Dogot
VIDEO: "The Riches" is presented by Fox in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation offers very fine quality, as sharpness and detailed remained above-average throughout the episodes. While a few instances of minor artifacting appeared, the presentation was otherwise clean and clear. Colors also remained bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The show's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation offered crisp dialogue and well-recorded effects, but surrounds - as one might expect - were rarely put to use.
EXTRAS: actor Eddie Izzard and creator Dimitry Lipkin offer commentary on "Waiting for Dogot" and the pilot episode. We also get 7 websiodes and two Fox Movie Channel featurettes, as well as a gag reel.
Final Thoughts: Superbly acted and mostly very well-written, "The Riches" is a dark, funny and dramatic series that entertains thanks to an rather unusual premise and solid performances from the leads. There's a few moments where I couldn't suspend disbelief, but the majority of the series works. The DVD presentation offers solid audio/video quality, as well as a respectable set of extras. Recommended.