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Dirty Sexy Money: The Lions (Review)

Donald Sutherland in Dirty Sexy Money

Review by Jack Foley

INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from our favourite television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the latest episode of Channel 4’s new import Dirty Sexy Money, entitled The Lions.

What’s the story? Nick (Peter Krause) searches for his father’s killer. When the family has a photo shoot Juliet (Samaire Armstrong) refuses to be there. Patrick (William Baldwin) has to deal with his father who wants him to run for the senate.

Was it any good? Having expressed reservations about last week’s pilot episode Dirty Sexy Money improved considerably this week, as Peter Krause’s Nick grew more determined to establish whether his father was murdered.

Donald Sutherland, in particular, shone as family patriach Tripp Darling, mixing moments of ruthless power with some heartfelt tenderness. But Samaire Armstrong and Seth Gabel both had their moments too, capably handling the lighter side of proceedings.

Digging a little deeper: The main enjoyment from watching The Lions stemmed from trying to figure out whether Patrick ‘Tripp’ Darling (Sutherland) knew of his wife’s affair with Nick’s late father and had subsequently arranged his murder.

Early on, Letitia Darling (Jill Clayburgh) confessed to Nick that she simply didn’t know whether her infidelity was known to her husband, while refusing to rule out whether Tripp was capable of killing someone.

And Tripp certainly did little to suggest he was innocent – the odd shifty look seeming to suggest a guilty complex. But Sutherland’s great still as an actor was to throw a little ambiguity in late on, and to even tap into a sensitive side to the character.

When Nick admitted to stealing his journal in a bid to find out whether it contained any information concerning his father’s killer, Tripp looked genuinely hurt and shocked by the accusation, before going to check that Letitia was alright. The scene between them on the family balcony was really moving and as surprising to viewers as it seemed to be to Letitia.

Likewise, his final scene with Nick was supremely well-played. Having gone back to work for Tripp in spite of his accusations, Tripp suggested that the combination on Nick’s late father’s briefcase might be 712, the date of Letitia’s birthday.

Knowing that using them to unlock the briefcase would provide Tripp with the proof he needed, Nick gingerly punched them in and opened the case – only for Tripp to look away, concealing the hurt that his suspicions had been proved right.

Did he know already? Maybe not, after all. Perhaps the briefcase combination was the final proof he required? Nonetheless, the show of vulnerability was brilliantly realised and adds new depth to a character who is already the main reason for tuning in. Likewise, what should we make of the odd drawing of a crashing plane in Tripp’s journal – or the crossed out handwriting beneath it. Is Tripp merely as good an actor as Sutherland?

Certainly, the contents of the case seemed to send Nick off in a different direction – but could they have been planted? Particularly as Tripp was able to guess [or already knew] the combination.

Hats off to the writers for suddenly making Dirty Sexy Money really intriguing…

Elsewhere [and briefly] I enjoyed Samaire Armstrong’s attempts to assert her independence – by moving into a plush hotel suite, demanding the penthouse, and remaining content to have her father pay for it! Gleefully naive and wonderfully played by the amiable Armstrong.

Likewise, brother Jeremy’s (Gabel) illicit liaison with the real penthouse occupant, Natalie, whose drop-dread sexiness proved difficult to resist for brother or viewer, especially when Natalie was seen spread-eagled across the bed, wrapped in only a towel, and purring the provocative line: “I just took a shower. I’m hot and I’m very very, very wet.” Unbelievably, Jeremy had to decline the invitation – but his luck changed later.

On the down side, William Baldwin’s Patrick continued to flatter to deceive; his attorney general eventually pandering to his father’s wishes and running for office. But his scenes were too few and not really fleshed out. Baldwin has yet to assert himself on the series.

Glenn Fitzgerald’s Brian Darling, meanwhile, continued to over-exaggerate his volatile priest but with a little more conviction and enjoyment than in the pilot episode. His continued attempts to conceal the identity of his illegitimate child proving highly amusing, particularly during the scenes between father and son.

For now, though, the main reason for watching is the presence of Sutherland, with Krause taking the first steps to providing a worthwhile potential adversary. It should be fascinating to see how their bond develops… and who really did kill Nick’s father.

What did you think?