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Dirty Sexy Money on DVD: Season 1 Season 2

"Dirty Sexy Money" The Complete (and Final) Second Season DVD Review

Buy Dirty Sexy Money: The Complete (and Final) Second Season on DVD from Amazon.com Dirty Sexy Money: Season Two (2008-09)
Show & DVD Details

Creator: Craig Wright / Writers: Craig Wright, Jon Harmon Feldman, Craig Huston, Yahlin Chang, Jake Coburn, Paul Redford, Sallie Patrick, Bill Chais / Directors: Jeff Melman, Andrew Bernstein, Robert Berlinger, Dean White, Matthew Gross, Jamie Babbit, Michael Schultz, Michael Grossman, Peter O'Fallon, Michael Watkins

Starring Cast: Peter Krause (Nick George), Donald Sutherland (Tripp Darling), William Baldwin (Patrick Darling), Natalie Zea (Karen Darling), Glenn Fitzgerald (Brian Darling), Seth Gabel (Jeremy Darling), Zoe McLellan (Lisa George), Blair Underwood (Simon Elder), Jill Clayburgh (Letitia Darling), Lucy Liu (Nola Lyons)

Recurring Characters: Candis Cayne (Carmelita), Darcy Rose Byrnes (Kiki George), Sheryl Lee (Andrea Smithson Darling), Will Shadley (Brian Darling Jr.), Dan Rather (Himself), Scott Holroyd (Chase Alexander), John Rubinstein (Dr. Zwerling), John Schneider (Congressman Skip Whatley)

Notable Guest Stars: Kenny G (Himself), Bellamy Young (Ellen Darling), Samaire Armstrong (Juliet Darling), Shawn Michael Patrick (Clark), Caroline Lagerfelt (Clare George), Joel Madden (Himself), Elijah Kelley (Elon Elder)

Running Time: 560 Minutes (13 episodes) / Rating: TV-PG
1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
DVD Release Date: August 18, 2009
Season 2 Airdates: October 1, 2008 - August 8, 2009
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Standard Keepcase with embossed cardboard slipcover

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By Aaron Wallace

"Dirty Sexy Money" never had fortune in its favor. Upon its premiere, things might have seemed that way -- a good time slot, a solid opening audience, and favorable press promised that good things were to come. ABC has proven itself a hit maker in the juicy drama genre and "Dirty Sexy Money" might have been on its way to being the next success story with a talented team of writers cooking up appropriately rich material.
Unfortunately, those writers went on strike. If you can think back to a time before Michael Jackson's death and the 2008 election, you might recall that the rest of Hollywood's writers did too. Still an infant with an audience to build, "Dirty Sexy Money" came to a screeching halt and Americans found something outside of the TV tube to entertain them for a few months.

When it returned for a second season, "Dirty Sexy Money" had just ten episodes under its belt. Its dwindling audience was made up of those who didn't forget about it during the ten month hiatus, a class of people that grew steadily smaller with each passing week. 2008 would prove to be even less fortuitous than 2007 had been. After just nine episodes, ratings had dropped by more than half and ABC pulled the plug.

The writer's strike having closed the first season abruptly, the second feels like part two of the first. Clearly modeled after "Desperate Housewives", "Dirty Sexy Money" builds from a central mystery and thrives on the scheming of a shady pool of characters as they search for answers. Here, that core quandary is who killed protagonist Nick George's (Peter Krause) father? The senior George was in-house counsel for the obscenely wealthy and globally famous Darling family... and the secret lover of Mrs. Darling (Jill Clayburgh) herself. When Season One opened, he was dead and his son was taking his place in the Darling regime.

Nick George (Peter Krause) is the central character of "Dirty Sexy Money" but only because phone calls like these allow him to connect viewers with the scandalous Darling family. Lawyers Nick George (Peter Krause) and Nola Lyons (Lucy Liu) clash both in and out of judge's chambers throughout the second season of "Dirty Sexy Money."

At the beginning of Season Two, we don't know much more than that. The first ten episodes meandered to and fro, flirting with the murder mystery but frustratingly refusing to reveal anything. We did learn this much in Season One: a Darling nemesis named Simon Elder (Blair Underwood) had something to do with the death. Having had plenty of time for reflection, the second season premiere is keenly aware of the need to return some attention to this essential plot thread, kicking things off with an explosive allegation that casts doubt on someone other than Simon Elder: Mrs. Darling.

The sudden shake-up gives the new season plenty of juice. So does the introduction of a new character: Mrs. Darling's prosecutor, Nola Lyons (Lucy Liu). Liu's presence is the defining feature of Season Two, her acting a showcase of her considerable feature film experience and her character a brilliant cog in the Darlings' gears. Lyons' secret connections with the other established characters drive most of the remaining episodes. It's when her storyline starts to wrap up that the rest of the show falters.

The curious thing about "Dirty Sexy Money" was that its central character never played a very big part. Sure, Nick George appears in most scenes, but his bland persona primarily functioned as a window through which the audience could observe the larger-than-life antics of the Darlings. The writers must have been keenly aware of this too, as the unraveling of Nick's marriage to Lisa (Zoe McLellan) takes a lead role in the second season. By the show's end, their divorce dominates the plot.

Strange bedfellows unite in Season Two, as Tripp Darling (Donald Sutherland) and Simon Elder (Blair Underwood) enter into an unholy alliance. No, this isn't a "JAG"/"30 Rock" crossover... that's William Baldwin as politician Patrick Darling in "Dirty Sexy Money."

In an apparent miscalculation, the writers decided to strike a sort of "Ross and Rachel" dynamic between Nick and Karen Darling (Natalie Zea), one that finds Nick forgetting about his wife and falling in lust and love with Karen instead. This turn is problematic in that both Nick and Lisa have already been established as innocent good guy-types and the ravaging of their union by Darling infidelity is the last thing viewers want to root for.
Had the writers maligned one of the characters first, making them easier to dislike, or cast the affair as something sinister, then the transition wouldn't feel uncomfortable. As it is, the show treats Nick's abandonment of his wife as a natural next step in the man's life, forcing the audience to feel like they've become the other woman by virtue of going along with it.

Of course, had the series been granted a third season, we may have found that things weren't as they seemed, or that the characters would seek redemption or reunification. Sadly, that's something that fans won't get to see. After its primetime run ended in mid-December, the final four unaired episodes of Season Two returned to ABC this summer. The cliffhanger ending makes the unintended finality all the more disappointing, though it's one that manages to answer -- at least in part -- the series' central mystery even while throwing a most intriguing wrench into it. That small taste of resolution will forever have to serve as the final chapter to a story that never got the chance to be properly told.

Perhaps the truest thing that can be said of "Dirty Sexy Money" is that it was fun while it lasted. The flaws in its narrative are largely overcome by a large cast of interesting, accessible, and believably defined characters, brought to life by a capable and star-studded cast. Though the drama too often revels in the suds of its soap opera structure, the characters in Season Two remain strong. For that reason alone, both seasons of the show are worth watching despite their brevity and foibles.

The Complete Second Season presents all 13 Season Two episodes on DVD, including those not aired until this summer (the finale having premiered just ten days before this release). Summaries of those episodes appear below, along with a star () for each of my five favorites.

In the second season premiere, the Darlings throw Nick a dirty, sexy birthday party. How could Kenny G not guest star in a show called "Dirty Sexy Money"? Though Brian Darling and his dysfunctional family face tough times, their posh stylings never fade.

Disc 1

1. The Birthday Present (43:05) (Originally aired October 1, 2008)
It's Nick's birthday and the Darlings are staging a lavish spectacle of a party for him. The attention turns from Nick, though, when helicopters fly overhead and the police move in to arrest a member of the family. A flashback then reveals the events of the six months that have passed since the end of Season One, ending in an unexpected tragedy.

2. The Family Lawyer (42:14) (Originally aired October 8, 2008)
Mrs. Darling, otherwise known as Letitia, is formally charged with the murder of Nick's father.
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Meanwhile, Nola Lyons, a star prosecutor with an unblemished record of convictions, strikes up a heated affair with Jeremy (Seth Gabel) even while prosecuting his mother. Already burdened with the trial, Nick finds himself at odds with most of the family when Tripp (Donald Sutherland) charges him with the task of finding his successor.

3. The Star Witness (42:39) (Originally aired October 22, 2008)
As Patrick (William Baldwin) prepares for his Senate campaign, he begins toying with a public confession of his secret affair with the transgendered Carmelita (Candis Cayne). Nick finds himself on an international flight after Nola makes his mother the chief witness in the trial. He finds himself caught between his real-life mom and the woman who's stood in as a dysfunctionally surrogate mother to him since he was a child.

4. The Silence (42:20) (Originally aired October 29, 2008)
Just as Patrick begins to celebrate both impending success on the campaign trail and reunification with Carlita, his brother-in-law arrives with a bombshell accusation that threatens to make very public waves for the rising politician.

The villainous Simon Elder (Blair Underwood) rarely appears alongside the angelic Lisa George (Zoe McLellan), but Season Two finds an interesting angle at which their paths can cross. No sooner is Letitia (Jill Clayburgh) acquitted of murder than she hits an unsuspecting pedestrian with her car. The second season's seventh episode strangely gives the lead role to an otherwise obscure background character, Clark (Shawn Michael Patrick), the Darling family chauffeur.

Disc 2

5. The Verdict (41:52) (Originally aired November 5, 2008)
When Nick uncovers Nola's dirty bedroom secret, he squares off against her in the judge's chamber, finally casting a ray of hope for Letitia.

6. The Injured Party (41:40) (Originally aired November 19, 2008)
Brian Darling (Glenn Fitzgerald) grapples with dire news about his ex-wife's health and her refusal to seek treatment. Nola moves even closer to the Darlings when she makes a bid to become Patrick's new Chief of Staff. Karen, meanwhile, makes a bid for Nick's affections when she comes to blows with Lisa. Letitia accidentally strikes a young woman with her car and Tripp insists that the family welcome her into the home in order to shy away from public scandal, much to the chagrin of the other Darlings.

7. The Facts (43:04) (Originally aired July 18, 2009)
In this unusual episode, the Darling family chauffeur, Clark (Shawn Michael Patrick), takes his place front and center, spilling the beans about the Darlings to a gossip columnist while the family is away on Thanksgiving vacation. The cast appears in flashbacks, including Samaire Armstrong, whose once-prominent role as Juliet Darling faded as time went on. This episode was set to air on November 26, 2008, but was preempted in favor of Barbara Walters' interview with Barack Obama. Given that to some extent, sequentially, it stands on its own, the episode was withheld and didn't make its ABC debut until July. It is properly the seventh episode of the season, however, and is presented as such on the DVD.

8. The Summer House (42:59) (Originally aired December 3, 2008)
Karen makes wedding plans while Tripp and Nick make plans to intervene. Meanwhile, Lisa and Jeremy grow closer, a relationship Lisa uses to her advantage.

9. The Plan (42:26) (Originally aired December 10, 2008)
Patrick's brother-in-law escalates his beef with the Darlings to a dangerous level while Patrick puts his own political life in danger by inviting Carmelita to his inauguration.

Jeremy (Seth Gabel) and Nola (Lucy Liu) enjoy a steamy romance, notwithstanding her prosecution of his mother for murder. Half-brothers Brian (Glenn Fitzgerald) and Nick (Peter Krause) share a moment of religious reflection. Karen (Natalie Zea) again confesses her feelings for Nick aboard a Darling family jet.

Disc 3

10. The Organ Donor (43:09) (Originally aired December 17, 2008)
Patrick suffers yet another tragedy after chaos ensues at his inauguration. Meanwhile, Jeremy hatches a plan to fake amnesia.

11. The Convertible (43:08) (Originally aired July 25, 2009)
Nick, Brian, and Karen are in pursuit of Lisa after she flees the state with her and Nick's daughter.
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After many thought The Organ Donor would end up being the default series finale, the series returned in July with just over one million viewers tuning in.

12. The Unexpected Arrival (41:54) (Originally aired August 1, 2009)
Karen learns some very big news about herself that piques the very personal interest of Simon and Nick too. Meanwhile, Patrick resists the unwanted advances of a gay Senator who represents support essential to Patrick's efforts in Congress.

13. The Bad Guy (43:09) (Originally aired August 8, 2009)
In its forced finale, the series sews some new seeds that will forever go unharvested. Patrick falls for the gay Senator's wife, Lisa promotes her new tell-all book exposing the Darlings' inner lives, Nick and Karen take their relationship to a new level, Jeremy proposes to Nola, and Simon Elder feels the sting of justice and reveals an unexpected truth about Nick's father.

Nick and Lisa's daughter is seldom seen or mentioned on "Dirty Sexy Money", but this brief Season Two scene reveals that she's changed quite a bit while off-camera. Darcy Rose Byrnes, seen here, is the third actress to play Kiki George during the series' brief lifespan. Zoe McLellan's character, Lisa George, becomes more relevant in Season Two. Unfortunately, that new relevance comes at the price of an unnatural story arc.


Each episode is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, matching the original aspect ratio of digital broadcasts. "Dirty Sexy Money" was regrettably denied a Blu-ray release, but the episodes look terrific as they are on DVD. Audio comes by way of a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track. This being a television show created for broadcast in stereo sound, the audio is primarily limited to the front channels. The center speaker sees the most action, with occasional rear channel enforcement in the score.

The packaging promises French and Spanish audio tracks and indeed, there are tracks labeled as such on the disc. The only problem is that they're both in English. The French and Spanish subtitles are at least in the right language. There's an English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle option too.

Jamie Babbit helms the stage in "Directing the Darlings", a featurette profiling the two-time "Dirty Sexy Money" director. Natalie Zea and William Baldwin clown around on the set of "Dirty Sexy Money", as illustrated in the featurette "A Total Knockout." Josh Kuhn may now be the most-documented craft services guy for a short-lived TV drama, thanks to the featurette "Dirty Sexy Crafty."


A featurette profiling a director might seem odd for a TV series, which typically juggles at the very least three or four directors from week to week. This DVD set wisely chooses just one director to look at, and thus "Directing the Darlings" (11:30) puts Jamie Babbit in the spotlight. Babbit directed one Season Two episode ("The Summer House") and we see that in production here. The piece is chock-full of terrific behind-the-scenes footage and substantive interviews that come together to create a truly revealing look into a single episode's creation.

"A Total Knockout" (8:41) takes a look at Natalie Zea, the actress responsible for the fiery and sexy Karen Darling. Basically a puff piece, this featurette offers a little to think about in terms of what Zea brings to the show, but for the most part, it's a reel of her colleagues singing her praises.

"Dirty Sexy Crafty" (9:15) is another unusual featurette, this one spending some time with Josh Kuhn, a craft services guy who the cast and crew have affectionately nicknamed "Dirty Sexy Crafty". While the oft-overlooked craft services angle lends this some interest, it's mostly another reel of people saying nice or tongue-in-cheek not-so-nice things about Mr. Crafty.

Peter Krause puts on his goofy face in the "Dirty Sexy Money": Season Two blooper reel. This deleted scene would have had interesting implications for a third season, had one been ordered for "Dirty Sexy Money." This dirty sexy menu is 16x9-enhanced and accompanied by score from the show.

"Faux Pas: Bloopers From Season 2" (1:51) is a very short, very standard outtakes reel. Mildly amusing.

Finally, there is a gallery featuring seven deleted scenes. Each is around a minute in length and offers some new interesting take on the show. The scenes' impact are sometimes limited to a particular moment in one episode while others impact entire story arcs.
Particularly fascinating is the last scene, "Done!", which I suspect would have ended Season Two had the show not been cancelled.

The disc opens with several previews for ABC properties. The first is an overview of new ABC releases, followed by specific preview for "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy", a trailer for The Proposal, and then a Blu-ray promo at the end. These are not accessible from the main menu (they should be).

The 16:9-enhanced main menus evoke paparazzi frenzy as cameras flash and scenes from the show flash by in exposures on a scrolling film reel. A theme from the series' rockin' score plays in the background. Each disc also has episode selection and set-up menus. Each episode is helpfully divided into around eight chapters for easy scene access.

Season Two is packaged in a standard, clear keepcase. Disc One is housed on the left panel while Discs Two and Three overlap on the right panel. A disc-by-disc listing of the episodes is printed inside, seen transparently through the case. The lone insert is a four-page Blu-ray flyer. The case dons an embossed cardboard slipcover that labels this "The Complete (and Final) Second Season", as if there were multiple second seasons. Syntax fail.

How is it that every shot that Donald Sutherland is in looks like the most dramatic point in a very serious movie? Brian Darling (Glenn Fitzgerald) is on a roller coaster of both careers and emotions in the second season of "Dirty Sexy Money".


It's hard to recommend a show like "Dirty Sexy Money". It took a while to get going and then got the axe almost as soon as it did. Still, I have to ask myself, do I enjoy the show? Yes. Am I glad I have it on DVD? Yes. Will I ever watch it again? Likely. Given that it was so short-lived and far from perfect while it was around, that's enough to inspire a recommendation that I can feel good about. At its worst, the show errs on the side of melodramatic. At its best, "Dirty Sexy Money" captivates and rewards the viewer with believable human drama and unexpected bends in a steady-paced plot. The latter moments account for the bulk of the two-season run and add up to enough to make a lasting impression. Home video is now the easiest way to see the show and The Complete Second Season DVD makes the experience even more rewarding with at least one noteworthy featurette and an impressive set of seven deleted scenes.

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Reviewed September 1, 2009.

Text copyright 2009 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2008-09 Berlanti Television, ABC Studios, and 2009 Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
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