"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Soup of the Week & The Riches: It's A Wonderful Life

This soup goes together in short order and is very good!

Creamy Chicken Rice Soup

Chopped onion
1 chopped carrot
1 chopped celery rib
Minced garlic
1 tablespoon oil or butter
2 cans (14 1/2 oz each) chicken broth
1/3 cup uncooked long grain rice
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 can (5 oz) evaporated milk
1 package cooked chicken

In a saucepan, saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in the broth, rice, basil and pepper. Bring to a boil Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is tender.

In a small bowl, combine the flour and milk until smooth; stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in chicken; heat through.

The Riches:

With one more show to go in this season, things are getting complicated for The Riches. Maybe not complicated enough, and certainly not as dramatic nor as thrilling as the pilot seemed to promise - but things are interesting nonetheless.

At long last, someone from Doug's past has come calling - and this time it's not someone Wayne can easily take care of, such as Doug's mother-in-law and ex-wife. This time, the man in question is Pete, Doug Rich's best friend. Pete's a troubled guy down on his luck, and has come to find his good friend Doug. The Malloys do their best to put up a front as the "Montpierres," and it looks like Pete has bought it.

Dahlia has to pretend to be Doug's ex-wife and she tells Pete that Doug was never his friend, and used to mock him behind his back. This is exactly the wrong news for Pete, who has a panic attack, which he follows by contemplating suicide. Whether he would do it or not we'll never know, since Dahlia and Wayne arrive in time and Dahlia talks him down.

Making matters worse, Dale finally shows his face at Hugh's wedding. He doesn't make any demands or threats, which somehow seems worse. Wayne is still trying to figure out how to deal with Dale when Pete shows up in his office. Pete has now seen that Wayne is pretending to be Doug Rich, and he knows for a fact that Wayne is not Doug Rich. This is the first time in the series that this has happened, where there's really nowhere for Wayne to run or hide.

While Dale and Pete are adding real dilemmas for the Malloys to deal with, it's a bit too little too late in the season. With only one episode to go, it's kind of hard to believe that this is the first time this scenario has come up. Every other situation has been dealt with cleanly and efficiently and without consequences. When you add up the various problems that the Malloys have dealt with in a single episode, the show really begins to strain credibility.

Nina starts to put it together in this episode that the Malloys aren't who they say they are. She says it in a way that almost feels as if the producers are acknowledging the doubts and questions of the audience. While the season finale might be truly fantastic, as a whole the season of The Riches has mostly been one of "take it or leave it." Not bad, with some interesting and original ideas, but not especially compelling and sometimes poorly executed.

This episode showcases some of that lack of "oomph." Take the moment where Pete considers suicide, for instance. I never thought he might do it, as the show has shown by now that they're not that kind of show. Pete never really was going to kill himself, so Dahlia talking him down isn't that remarkable. Hugh's 5 day sabbatical isn't that interesting because it started as a destructive meth bender and ended with him taking time off at a spa and marrying a stripper. It really feels as though the writers are afraid to commit to their own ideas. I'm reserving judgment here until the final episode, but so far I'm not exactly chomping at the bit for more Riches.

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