Whereas the humor of Dirty Sexy Money comes from being a playful soap, more apt to poke fun of its disgustingly vile upperclass characters, Private Practice tries to hard to be funny and coy and just comes off as shallow. The difference is that with the exception of Peter Krause’s character Nick George, the audience is in on the joke of hating everyone else on Dirty Sexy Money. It feels wonderful to judge and hate on the Darling Family (though it’s clear Donald Sutherland’s patriarch will be beloved real soon).
On Private Practice we’re not really given any reason to care about the shallow and flawed characters of Addison Shephard’s new practice and so we sort of end up hating them, but mostly we just end up not caring. Instead of just being a drama with some lighter moments, Private Practice seems to want to be a comedy first, drama second. That is not a good thing.
We’ll start by looking at Dirty Sexy Money since that’s the show we’ll be more inclined to revisit.
Dirty Sexy Money
The Cast: Peter Krause (Sports Night, Six Feet Under) as Nick George, Donald Sutherland as Tripp Darling, Billy Baldwin as Patrick Darling, Samaire Armstrong (The O.C.) as Juliet Darling, Glenn Fitzgerald as Brian Darling, Seth Gabel as Jeremy Darling, Jill Clayburgh as Letitia Darling and Natalie Zea as Karen Darling
The Plot: Nick George is a do-gooding NYC lawyer. When his father mysteriously dies in a plane crash, George is enlisted to take over as lawyer for the retardedly wealthy Darling Family. Despite having his reservations, Nick George takes the job and then has to navigate the tricky waters of an ex-lover (Karen Darling) and suicidal bad actress (Juliet – think Paris Hilton), and wreckless son (Jeremy) and of course Patrick’s lover affair with a tranny hooker, which might derail his US Senate bid.
The Good: Krause in particular. His interactions with the screwed up family mixed with his own struggle to be the type of father he never had is fairly compelling. The scenes with him in it are a joy to watch, as he is able to wring dark comedy out of tragedy like few television actors. Donald Sutherland’s character is interesting because he knows he’s not a good person, but it’s clear he wants to be one and needs Nick’s help and influence. Billy Baldwin falling in love with Alexis Arquette is sort of a hoot. In a way, watching this show makes me wish Wes Anderson would take the helm and direct a few episodes.
The Bad: The soundtrack for one. If I have to listen to Peter, Bjorn & John’s “Young Folks” one more time I’ll probably choke on my own vomit. That song, great as it is, needs to be put down like a syphaliitic dog. The voice over narration really needs to go. When are television shows gonna learn that they had nothing and usually it just means lazy screenwriting.
The Verdict: Worth watching again but it’s on notice. I feel like I could lose interest very quickly unless the quality stays really high. But so far so good.
The Cast: Kate Walsh (Grey’s Anatomy duh) as Addison Montgomery Shephard, Tim Daly (Eyes, Wings Sopranos) as Pete Finch, Taye Diggs as Sam Bennett, Amy Brenneman (Judging Amy) as Violet Turner, Paul Adelstein as Cooper Freeman, Audra McDonald as Naomi Bennett and Chris Lowell (Piz from Veronica Mars) as William Cooper.
The Plot: Addison ups and leaves Seattle for the cozy beaches of Santa Monica and her BFF’s private practice of whacky doctors doing wacky things. The pilot (or quasi-pilot if you count the episode of Grey’s Anatomy last season as the pilot) finds the other doctors in the practice including, Sam Bennett who’s got a best-selling book, Naomi who were not sure what she practices, Pete Finch does holistic medicine, William Cooper is studying to be a mid-wife and eye-candy, Violet is a psychotherapist and Cooper is a children’s doctor, not wanting Addison to be there and dealing with their own problems. And by problems we mean trying to jerk off a dead guy for his sperm, a crazy lady who counts floor tiles, etc etc etc.
The Good: The cast is particularly good and well suited for this type of material. And um, did we mention Kate Walsh is beautiful.
The Bad: Just about everything else. The writing is pretty dull, the self-absorbed characters are all duds.
The Verdict: Yup, it’s safe to say this is one bad spin-off and unfortunate because Kate Walsh was our favorite thing about the slowly deteriorating Grey’s Anatomy. Needless to say, I won’t be investing any more time in this show and neither should you.