Monday, March 12, 2007

Mo' money, mo' problems

Today's column is a review of FX's "The Riches," a show I liked in certain spots but that left me cold overall:

Wayne Malloy has to convince upper management at a swank real-estate firm that he's Doug Rich, their new in-house counsel. A con man by trade, he doesn't have a law degree, or any formal education beyond the seventh grade. What he has is a big rock in his briefcase.

Wayne's wife Dahlia put it there to make the case seem full, but when he starts to lose his new audience, he pulls the rock out and lets the crowd decide for themselves what it means. Within moments, they're so stirred up that several would probably die for Wayne. Big rock 1, Harvard Law 0.

It's a funny, electric moment, and one that "The Riches" needs a lot more of. Despite two fine leading performances by Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver and a premise that's not like anything else on television, there's something missing in the execution.

To read the full thing, click here. We can also use this as a place to comment for anyone who watches it tonight.

Also, my account of the tension-filled Antonella Barba conference call on Friday, and hopefully this is the last time I will need to type the words "Antonella Barba" in any context in the future.


Anonymous said...

I watched the premiere on last night and what struck me about the series is how much the premise reminded me of HBO's Big Love. There's the creepy "camp" people, the family of social outcasts trying to convince the suburbia they belong -- the whole thing seemed awfully familiar. That being said, I liked The Riches about fifty times more than I liked Big Love (at least in this stage of the game). Though this could also be due to the absence of Bill Paxton's ass... but who knows.

savethewetlands said...

rick, i thought about 'big love' also. and i also like this one better. i hope they will bow to (what will surely be)audience demand in weeks to come and lighten it up somewhat. i loved every moment of the cons they ran.

minnie driver is amazing here, and i thought the dynamic between her and izzard as a couple was terrific. they were more believable to me as a couple who truly love each other than bill paxton and any one of his wives.

Jason said...

"The RIches" was really, really good. Great performances by Izzard and Driver. Eddie Izzard -- wow, where's he been hiding? I had no idea he was this great in a non-dress-wearing role. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I watched and liked it, too.

I also thought of Big Love, particularly while they were at the camp. It took me a second to tease out what I was thinking of, but I guess it's that while I've always been somewhat aware of the social hierarchy--and especially the forced marriage of young women--that goes on in fundamentalist Mormon communities, I never thought about that stuff happening in a community of Travellers. I'm actually a fan of Big Love, but I agree that I'll take Eddie Izzard's bare ass over Bill Paxton's any day.

Eddie, for me, can pretty much do no wrong. Minnie Driver was great, and I don't normally love her. This was different enough of a role that it was cool to see her do it. And I think Shannon Woodward's great, too. Just looked at her imdb, man she's done a lot of TV shows! Including Clarissa Explains it All! (My favorite childhood show).

I have to admit, though. I didn't quite get the part at the beginning with the gifts and the police officer. What happened?

I agree that it sort of had its ups and downs, the downs being especially down. It was a good, but not awesome, first episode. I think that's good, though, because we've seen what happened to the shows with awesome first episodes this year. I'm in. I just wish I could watch it on HD.

Lisa said...

I think the part with the police officer and the gifts was just, they tried to struggle their way out of it and couldn't, the the police officer was corrupt enough just to take their goods and not arrest them.

I LOVED this show -- I didn't think I liked Minnie Driver but she's fascinating here. It reminds me of "Weeds" and to a lesser extent "Big Love" but I agree with everyone else that it's a much better, more compelling show than Big Love.

I also love what they're doing with the shiny-new suburban setting here, cause it seems like they're being thoughtful about it (another thing that reminds me of "Weeds.")

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I guess that's what I figured, but wondered if I missed something. They stole unopened presents to give to her, right? And then the police officer stole them from them? And he knew they were stolen? It's kind of funny for a family of theives to steal unopened presents for their mom, but seems weird that a police officer would then want them. Anyway, that part just seemed a little muddled to me. Otherwise I really liked it.

If it turns out to be even half as good as Weeds, it'll be my new second favorite show. I did love the unflappable next door neighbor lady.

Zodin2008 said...

wow...I liked this show and will watch again, but I am stunned how everyone is siding with this show overr "Big Love" which I find to be a far more compelling show.

I love Paxton but I also agree with the kudos for Eddie Izzard, he's absolutely terrific here and the best reason to keep watching "The Riches"...for now.

That aside, I hated Minnie Driver's character, she was completely dispicable in my opinion and if you want to compare this show with "Big Love" give me Jeane Tripplehorn's far more compelling and likeable Barb, or the nastier in a more interesting way, Chloe Sevigny as Nikki. I thought Driver was mostly awful and miscast and I usually like her.

But again, Eddie Izzard's fantastic performance is the reason to watch. He was a breath of fresh air as the lead of this show.

Isabel said...

Seriously, was I the only one that didn't like the show? It creeped me out. Hardcore.

Big Love never really creeped me out. Well you know, except for Bill's butt shots. Those got old fast.

Anonymous said...

"Hillbilly grifters"? Alan, it sounds like you've never heard of the Irish Travelers before. They aren't fictional and do indeed travel about the South, although I wouldn't call them "hillbillies." They are mainly located in South Carolina, afaik, or at least that is where they are usually "headquartered."

Alan Sepinwall said...

I've heard of the Travelers, and the show refers to them as such, but in trying to describe them to a general audience in a minimum of words, I went with a description that captures the accents, the in-breeding, the seedy trailers, etc., etc., etc., that the show uses to depict Traveler life.