FX, the clever counter-puncher who brings you the combustible Rescue Me during the summer doldrums, is ready to take the plunge into "family"entertainment.
Meet The Riches: Wayne Malloy (Eddie Izzard) is the patriarch of a family on the grift. When his wife Dahlia (Minnie Driver) is released from prison, Malloy takes his bride and three children/accomplices on the road to escape a trailer park past that continues to haunt them. When fate intervenes (thanks to a little push from the Malloys), the family finds themselves replacing a deceased couple by moving into their beautiful new house in the lush town of Eden Falls. As with most American success stories, one man's nightmare is about to become another man's American Dream.
As with most FX series, the show pushes the envelope in its 10 p.m.slot with nudity (a naked Izzard chomping at the bit for reunion sex), drug addiction (Minnie Driver's battle with the needle), underage sexual ambivalence (youngest son Sam, played byAidan Mitchell shows a penchant for crafts and dressing in his sister's hand-me-downs, in addition to being a budding con artist) and as always, regular bouts of bare-knuckled violence and stomping.
You might question hiring two Brits to play southerners, but Izzard and Driver bring a darker than Guinness tone to characters that already have a wonderful depth. Playwright and executive producer Dmitry Lipkin gives the cast theatrical worthy dialogue that can hold extended scenes in tight spaces like RV's and less than luxurious abodes.
The Riches faces stiff competition for dark new show of the time slot, thanks to the heavily promoted NBC debut of Oscar-winner Paul Haggis's The Black Donnellys. It remains to be seen if FX will push the edginess even further to take advantage of its cable status and battle the fighting Irish for the hearts and minds on an 18-34 demographic looking for something to do before The Daily Show.
Perhaps The Riches would be better suited following the lead of its main characters by getting on the road in search for a better life in a different time slot. It's far too good a show to be ignored.
The Riches debuts Monday, March 12 at 10 p.m on FX.
By Michael Dolan