Lisa Reviews The Premiere Episode Of Filthy Rich


I have to admit that I have a sneaky admiration for network television.

I mean, on the one hand, the networks are dying.  After decades of dominating America’s free time, network television was pushed aside first by cable and now by streaming services.  It’s been a long time since anyone looked to the big four networks in search of ground-breaking entertainment.  (Don’t even get me started on the CW.)  In many ways, the networks feel like relics of a bygone era.  Why structure your life around staying at home on a certain night so that you can catch whatever’s on NBC, ABC, CBS, or Fox when you can just DVR it or watch it online at your own convenience?

And yet, the networks carry on.  In the middle of the Streaming Revolution, the networks continue to insist that they’re at the forefront of American culture.  “Look,” they say, “We have football!  We have the awards shows!  We have game shows hosted by formerly funny comedians!  We have the smarmiest late night talk shows host around!  We have the nightly news!”  There’s something oddly touching about the refusal of the networks to admit that they’re no longer particularly relevant.  They’re like Charles Foster Kane, isolated away in Xanadu and insisting that he’s still as powerful and important as he’s always been.

I guess that’s why I’m always fascinated by the start of a new television season.  That never-say-die spirit just appeals to me and I always imagine a bunch of network executives saying, at the start of each season, “This time, we’re going to show Netflix and HBO how it’s done!”  With the Emmys now over and done with, the 2020-2021 network television season has begun.  For me, It’s always interesting to see which shows become a surprise hit and which shows end up getting cancelled after just three weeks.  Oddly enough, the previous television season brought us no real hits and only a few dramatic cancellations.  That’s the first time I can remember anything like that happening.  It was strange.

This new season is also going to be strange because, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, production on a lot of shows were halted.  Of the few new dramas and sitcoms that are scheduled for this season, the majority of them are starting in October.  Even once the season does get started in earnest, most nights are going to be dominated by celebrity-themed games shows and reality competition programming.  That said, I remain an optimist.  Surely, there will be at least one good new drama or sitcom on network television this season, right?

Well, it probably won’t be Filthy Rich.

Filthy Rich, which premiered on Fox on Monday night, is the latest primetime soap opera.  It’s a show about a wealthy Southern family that owns a Christian television network.  When the patriarch of the family is killed in a plane crash, it leads to all of his bastard children coming out of the woodwork so that they can get their inheritance and blah blah blah.  It’s meant to be campy and over-the-top and satirical but, judging from the pilot, it just tries too hard.  Kim Cattrall plays the scheming matriarch and her erratic southern accent serves to remind that us that Kim Cattrall doesn’t exactly have the greatest range as an actress.  Meanwhile, none of the children are really that interesting and even the big, ornately decorated mansion seems rather dull.  It’s all a bit too calculated to be genuinely subversive.

With its portrait of scheming rich people and Christian hypocrites, Filthy Rich feels like the edgiest show of 1999.  Unfortunately, it’s airing in 2020 and, at this point, we’ve all seen enough Ryan Murphy productions to be able to guess every single thing happens in the pilot for Filthy Rich.  (Admittedly, Filthy Rich is not actually a Ryan Murphy production.  Instead, it was developed by the director of The Help, Tate Taylor.)  There’s not a single surprise to be found.  The show seems to think that it’s blowing our minds but, at this point, it takes more than a supporting character smoking weed to be shocking.  What would have made Filthy Rich better?  It probably would have helped if it had aired on HBO or maybe even FX.  Instead, it’s a primetime network show that tries hard to convince us that it’s edgy when it’s actually totally mundane.

Anyway, it’s hard to imagine Filthy Rich surviving against Dancing With The Stars and The Voice so hopefully, everyone involved will move on to better things.

Four Rode Out (1970, directed by John Peyser)


In this self-conciously hip western, former Lolita Sue Lyon stars as Myra Polsen.  Myra has a reputation for being the town tramp and, when her father discovers Myra in bed with wanted outlaw Frenando Nunez (Julian Mateos), it leads to her father having a violent breakdown which ends with him shooting himself and Frenando escaping into the desert.  (Before anyone comments, that’s not a misspelling.  The outlaw’s name actually is Frenando.)  World-weary U.S. Marshall Ross (Pernell Roberts) heads into the desert to try to capture Frenando.  Accompanying him are Myra (who still loves Frenando) and the mysterious Mr. Brown (Leslie Nielsen!), a detective who is obsessed with Frenando and who says that he’ll kill the outlaw as soon as he sees him.

Also accompanying them is a ghostly folksinger played by Janis Ian, of At Seventeen fame.  Ian sings songs that comment upon the story and they’re just as empty-headed and bad as you would expect them to be.  Janis Ian’s presence marks this as being one of the handful of new wave westerns that were released in the wake of Easy Rider, The Wild Bunch, and the films of Sergio Leone.  These westerns attempted to appeal to the counter-culture by sympathizing with the outlaws and featuring crooked lawmen.  The addition of Janis Ian and her songs is Four Rode Out‘s way of saying, “This may be a western but this is a western that gets it.” Instead, it just comes across as artificial and forced.  There’s a lot of room for both moral ambiguity and political subtext in the western genre, which was something that Leone and Sam Peckinpah proved.  There’s less room for a hippie folksinger, as Four Rode Out demonstrates.

Other than Janis Ian’s songs and some dialogue that tries too hard to be profound, Four Rode Out isn’t bad.  Sue Lyon really digs into the role of Myra and even Pernell Roberts gives a good performance.  Of course, if you’re watching this movie in 2020, it’s probably going to be because of Leslie Nielsen.  This movie was made before Nielsen recreated himself as a comedic actor and it’s interesting to see how the same things that made Nielsen so funny — the deadpan delivery, the overly serious facial expressions — also made him a good villain.  For modern audiences, it can be difficult to look at Leslie Nielsen without laughing.  That’s how much we associate him with comedy.  But once you accept the fact that this is Leslie Nielsen playing a bad guy, he’s very convincing in the role.

One final note of interest: Four Rode Out was based on a story idea from the actor Dick Miller.  Yes, that Dick Miller.  Unfortunately, Miller himself is not in the movie.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Bill Murray Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today, we wish a happy 70th birthday to everyone’s favorite actor, Bill Murray!

That means, of course, that it’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 Films

Ghostbusters (1984, dir by Ivan Reitman)

Rushmore (1998, dir by Wes Anderson)

Lost In Translation (2003, dir by Sofia Coppola)

The Dead Don’t Die (2019, dir by Jim Jarmusch)