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apropos of nothing

Who Will Be the J.R. of ‘Dirty Sexy Money’?

Courtesy of ABC

After last night's episode, it's now evident that Dirty Sexy Money could well deliver on its promise: that is, be both a delicious nighttime soap in the tradition of Dallas, and a clever deconstruction of a delicious nighttime soap in the tradition of Dallas. (And even if it fails to clear that lofty bar, we'll happily settle for weekly doses of Donald Sutherland speaking Swedish.)

The series, however, still has one obvious, inescapable flaw: It lacks a J.R. You know, the balls-out, boo-hiss, mustache-twirling nasty that we learn to love to hate. We had initial hopes for Brian Darling, the bastard-rearing priest, but then his heart grew two sizes in the last few minutes last night, as he finally embraced (or at least accepted) his lil' love child. So we offer a nudge to the show's producers: You need at least one irredeemable blaggard, and it's not too late to recruit one of the existing characters. In fact, we offer this handy rundown of which Darling is most likely, and most suitable, to don J.R.'s black hat.

Brian Darling
Still the front-runner. He can erase the saccharine memory of last night's gooey meltdown by slipping that kid some rat-poisoned doughnuts, Flowers in the Attic style. Besides, his current wounded-son routine has no legs — that's Patrick's shtick. Instead, he should be the irrepressible conniver, a role made all the tastier by the collar around his neck.
Odds of being DSM's J.R.: 2 to 1

Patrick Darling
If you'd asked us during the first ten minutes of the pilot, we'd have wagered on dapper Patrick, the tux-wearing firstborn heir. He's JFK Jr., recast as J.R.! Call him J.R.F.K. Jr.! But Patrick's too torn between pleasing his daddy, his mommy, and his tranny to become the show's devious mastermind. It's a shame — William Baldwin has the louche former-pretty-boy looks to play a bloated, squinting bad guy. Just in case, we won't rule out the sudden emergence of an evil twin. Ratprick, is that you?
Odds of being DSM's J.R.: 4 to 1

Letitia Darling
Jill Clayburgh's steely bear trap of a matriarch is too busy herding her children back into the corral of obedience to slink off and hatch any actual evil schemes. She does look like she could do an excellent "Mwaa-haa-haa!" laugh, however.
Odds of being DSM's J.R.: 6 to 1

Tripp Darling
Donald Sutherland's certainly has the skills to be both seductive and sinister. But as we learned last night, Tripp's (a) too sentimental (the smooch with his wife; the scene with the briefcase lock) and (b) too funny (Yorgi borgi! I'm speaking Swedish!) to turn into an out-and-out villain. What a glorious mane, though.
Odds of being DSM's J.R.: 12 to 1

Jeremy and Juliet Darling
What? Tweedledum and Tweedledumber? Maybe if they somehow melded their two half-brains into one.
Odds of being DSM's J.R.: 20 to 1

Maria the Maid
You can't root against her if she put a kid through medical school.
Odds of being DSM's J.R.: 50 to 1

Nick George
Aha! Perfect! Wouldn't Peter Krause make an excellent scoundrel! Imagine: The do-gooder thing is just an insidious act to bring down his father's tormentors! From the inside! Of course, shows that center on villains don't tend to do well (Profit, Buffalo Bill). But even if this twist caused the show to crash and burn, with Krause as the one baring his fangs, we'd tune in every week for the carnage. That said, his odds are 100 to 1. —Adam Sternbergh