Monday, April 11, 2011

Dirty Sexy Money: The Bad Guy (2.13)

It happens so often that it's not wholly surprising anymore, but it's still crazily frustrating when a series you enjoy gets canceled so abruptly that the writers have little chance to wrap up all the loose ends before the show itself is shipped out to the funeral home. Dirty Sexy Money, canceled in the midst of a half-dozen lingering storylines, frustrates in its finale most of all because of where Craig Wright's attention seemed to lie. Surely the showrunners had some idea that ABC wasn't going to renew, and maybe then Wright could have written something a little more fulfilling. Instead of blessing his strongest characters with some kind of closure, Wright decides to concentrate almost entirely on several of the most ill-thought stories from the messy season two, leaving you more than a little pissed.

The Bad Guy
has an appalling script structure. The bones of the episode lie in Simon being confined to a recovery bed in the Darling plaza, confessing his sins to a sleepy Peter Krause. At the end of each of these scenes, just as Simon is about to reveal something sinister, he flatlines, or suddenly gets pains that need emergency assistance. Ugh. Equally annoying are the contrived flashbacks, Blair Underwood "moo-hah-hah-hah"-ing his way through a weak extortion story all about the history of Nola Lyons. See what I said about The Bad Guy dealing almost entirely with awful characters?


Simon's final revelation is also weak. Dirty Sexy Money had a handful of great storylines throughout its run, but it wouldn't be controversial to say that the entire Simon Elder/Dutch George saga was not one of them. Ridiculously convoluted, seemingly pieced together as the show went along, it frequently bored, it frequently made little sense, and ended up being pretty uneventful. Blair Underwood was fine in this part, but treated so badly and saddled with a wildly inconsistent character.

The rest of The Bad Guy stumbles its way through obnoxious character assassination and clumsy plot twists. Lisa George was intended to become the 'Alexis Carrington' to Nick and Karen's 'Blake and Krystle' (at least according to the producers), an idea that could have worked in principal. But Lisa's dramatic personality retcon from faithful, sad wife to nutty, bitter psycho ex was so stupidly contrived. Similarly lazy was Karen's fall down a staircase, the most clich├ęd and seemingly only network-approved way to get rid of an unborn fetus. Ugh. Natalie Zea is so wonderful, it's sad that losing a baby proved so inconsequential to Karen just days after she told Nick how much she loved it.

Subplots involving Jeremy and Patrick were similarly asinine. I'm guessing Jeremy's new wife would have turned out to be an insane gold-digger, but the story just didn't make sense. While Patrick's dalliances with the Whatley's was just too damn boring, made offensive by the fact that Carmelita isn't even cold in the ground yet.

Dirty Sexy Money was, in essence, one of those shows that had so many strong ideas, but ideas which were never executed as successfully as they should have been. This, generally, is probably the fault of ABC. The show was micro-managed from the very beginning, and promising storylines were casually dropped and replaced by a wave of tedium and soapy carnage (some admittedly fun). There were of course elements that worked. Natalie Zea and Glenn Fitzgerald, in particular. Certain storylines. But in general the show was a missed opportunity, doomed via the curse of too many cooks all with their own interpretation and opinion on how the show should be. There were a couple of episodes in season two which were a lot of fun, but it's unfortunate that it truly went out with a whimper in the end. D

Credits
Guest stars John Schneider (Charles Whatley); Krista Allen (Dana Whatley); Agnes Bruckner (Daphne); Gary Collins (Bob Kerry); Tzi Ma (Tsung Shien Chun)
Writer Craig Wright Director Bob Berlinger

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