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Archive for Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dirty, sexy and old-fashioned

November 19, 2008

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The televised rich are not like you and me. Given all the money and opportunity in the world, they insist on crowding into the family mansion and eating breakfast with the siblings they hate and resent — often well into their 30s and 40s.

This was one of the funny conventions on “Dynasty,” and it has returned with a vengeance on “Dirty Sexy Money” (9 p.m., ABC). This guilty-pleasure series is nothing if not claustrophobic.

Things get even more crowded this week when family matriarch Letitia (Jill Clayburgh) clips a bicyclist with her car. To quell scandal, Tripp (Donald Sutherland) insists that the victim recuperate in the Darling mansion.

Letitia is on trial for the murder of the family’s former lawyer/fixer, the father of Nick (Peter Krause), the current lawyer/fixer. And who better to defend her than Nick?

Really, on a Manhattan island lousy with lawyers, she has to hire the son of the murder victim. Nobody can evade the family’s gravitational pull.

Like many series, “Dirty” had its debut season truncated by last year’s writer’s strike and has yet to find a large and dependable audience. That’s too bad. “Dirty” is a hoot, but it avoids the too-cute, over-the-top effervescence of “Desperate Housewives.”

It’s also a soap with plenty of sizzle that doesn’t need to hit viewers over the head with ludicrous promiscuity, like the “Grey’s Anatomy” franchise. And it keeps its callous behavior to adults, unlike “Gossip Girl,” which portrays minors as cruel, texting-obsessed Machiavellis.

The failure of “Cashmere Mafia” and the recent cancellation of “Lipstick Jungle” may be a clear sign that viewers have tired of the “Sex and the City” antics of Manhattan’s power elite. But “Dirty” does not really take place in Manhattan. It’s set in a place as real as any soap opera, as contrived as Southfork and as believable as the Carrington mansion on “Dynasty.”

For all of the intrigue and back-stabbing, “Dirty Sexy Money” remains comfortably old-fashioned. It’s a place where the rich and idle may or may not get away with murder, but they remain doomed to live with each other until the day they die — or get canceled, whichever comes first.

Tonight’s other highlights

• A corpse interrupts an international flight on “Bones” (7 p.m., Fox).

• A magician needs help on “Pushing Daisies” (7 p.m., ABC).

• ’Tis the season to stuff a turducken on “Paula’s Southern Thanksgiving” (7 p.m., Food Network).

• “Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) examines life inside Buckingham Palace.

• Houston hosts Dallas in NBA action (7 p.m., ESPN).

• A girlfriend to several policemen ends up in the morgue on “Life” (8 p.m., NBC).

• A killer targets men named “Mac Taylor” on the 100th episode of “CSI: NY” (9 p.m., CBS).

• A teen refugee from a polygamist cult is found murdered on “Law & Order” (9 p.m., NBC).

• The team on “Prototype This” (9 p.m., Discovery) tries to create a robotic fireman.

• Clay’s benefit runs into complications on “Sons of Anarchy” (9 p.m., FX).

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