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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Riches: The Last Temptation of Wayne

As much as I liked the first season of The Riches, I thought the show had a couple of basic flaws. First, it seemed like too many episodes were about the con of the week rather than the "big con," which was the Malloys trying to pass for the Riches. But the most fundamental flaw of the entire first season was that, well... I just didn't find enough of a reason to like the Malloys. As despicable as the characters around them in Eden Falls were, I still felt that they were the victims of this family of Irish Travelers stealing the American Dream.

And where did the show leave off? Dale had infiltrated Eden Falls and is threatening to blow Wayne and Dahlia's cover; Doug Rich's old friend Pete Mincy, who the Malloys were trying to keep from ratting them out, ran afoul of the violent Dale; neighbor Nina's marriage fell apart after her husband revealed he's gay; Hugh Panetta lost his mojo after his new stripper wife dumped him; and in general the Malloys were ready to go back to the RV and run to Mexico.

What I found out is that Dale's just smart enough to not let them leave, but not smart enough to hurt Pete without killing him. So as Dahlia, the kids, Doug's Cherien Rich's mother (yes, she's part of the family, at least for a few episodes) and Nina hightail it out of town in the Mercedes, Wayne and Dale deal with what to do with Pete.

Almost the entire first episode sees Wayne separated from the rest of this family, as the Pete situation is complicated by the arrival of a drunken Hugh. I wonder if the writers wanted to make Hugh a little more sympathetic by having his wife dump him: he was a world class asshole most of last year, and it made me wonder why Wayne would waste time on the guy, despite the buffer life sucking up to Hugh provided. What I learn here is that there's an even bigger deal brewing, one that is going to drive the Malloys for the rest of the season. There has to be some way to bring the Malloys back together and bring them back to the Riches' house, right?

Interesting stuff:

Dale and Hugh in the same room is a dangerous thing. Though, the best dramatic tension in the episode comes when Dale holds the gun on the security guard as Wayne tries to tell him that shooting the guard is only going to screw things up for both of them.

It must be killing Wayne to have to be in this partnership with Dale. But at least he has Pete's death to hold over the big idiot; Dale thinks that Wayne killed the Riches, but can't be sure.

I still don't really know what Nina's purpose is besides showing how desperate things are at Eden Falls. I'd like to see her character developed more this season.

Having her tail along with Dahlia and the kids was an interesting plot twist, but it has a very artificial kind of feel; Mother Morgenstern was one thing, considering she was out of it and had no one to take care of her. But Nina? It doesn't seem like a Traveler family would ever let an outsider join them in their conning adventures. Maybe that's a sign that the family is softening in the buffer world.

As for the kids: Cael is still doubting and obnoxious; DiDi is still emotionally in both worlds; and Sam... well, let's just say he grew a lot between seasons, which doesn't help when the story just picks up from where it left off. He still is the young manifestation of Eddie Izzard, though, cross-dressing when the mood strikes.

Sam really does seem like he's the smartest Malloy, doesn't he? He's the only one who knew where the money was buried. He also seems to do well during the family's cons. He's got a future in either world.

As I guess we will see what is in store for the Malloys. The Malloys' moral struggle will be more acute than ever. Will it make them a more sympathetic family? I guess I will find out soon enough.

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