There's probably no better title among new series this fall than ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money" (10 tonight, WTAE), and once you get past the show's bad-choice premise, it turns into an entertaining, absurd drama.
Lawyer Nick George (Peter Krause, "Six Feet Under") knows he's making a mistake, one that will ruin his life, but he accepts a job from the wealthy, politically connected Darling family anyway. His late father worked for the Darlings for years, and it cost him his marriage and, perhaps, his life.
Of course, if Nick doesn't make this bad choice to work for the Darlings, there's no show.
So Nick takes the job, and his cell phone never stops ringing as one Darling family member after another calls with problems they need Nick to solve. Patriarch Tripp (Donald Sutherland) has a glint of evil in his eye while his wife, Letitia (Jill Clayburgh), has a secret of her own.
Son Patrick (William Baldwin), New York's attorney general, is in love with a transvestite (the first of two on ABC this week!), which, if it becomes public knowledge, would ruin his campaign for U.S. senate.
Karen (Natalie Zea) is about to marry a golf pro (Daniel Cosgrove), but she's still in love with Nick. She announces, "Nick deflowered me," in front of her fiance.
Brian (Glenn Fitzgerald) is an Episcopal priest, albeit a rude one with anger management issues and an illegitimate child.
Twins Jeremy (Seth Gabel) and Juliet (Samaire Armstrong) have their own problems: Jeremy has substance abuse issues and Juliet is a spoiled brat celebutante in the Paris Hilton mode.
Written by Craig Wright ("Brothers & Sisters," "Six Feet Under"), "Dirty Sexy Money" is one of those shows that asks us to laugh at the wealthy pretty people and all their crazy problems while feeling smugly morally superior. And it pretty much works.
The characters are engaging in their varying degrees of awfulness, and there appears to be plenty of story fodder for years to come.
The show is less successful in making viewers care about Nick and his search for the truth about his dad's death. It's a distraction from the more interesting Darlings' contretemps. A future episode suggests the character stories will be more prominent, pushing Nick's search for the truth about his dad's demise to the back burner, where it belongs.