By Thom Geier
Updated September 27, 2007 at 02:00 PM EDT

ABC’s heavily promoted new soap, Dirty Sexy Money, got off to azippy start last night, thanks to a talented cast of TV veterans who made thesometimes nonsensical script seem far better than it has any right tobe. (Watch for our critic’s official review of the series in a forthcoming issue of EW.)

Peter Krause (pictured) plays a do-gooding attorney named Nick George who toilsin the nonprofit world, trying to reject the example of his estrangeddad, the personal lawyer for the filthy rich, spoiled rotten, andtrouble-courting Darling family of New York City. Then Nick’s daddies — mysteriously, it turns out — and he’sessentially bribed by patriarch Tripp Darling (a gleefully naughtyDonald Sutherland) into carrying on the paternal legacy.

We never learn the source of the Darling wealth, but it’s pretty clearthat the bulk of the fortune will disappear after the death of Trippand his boozy, vase-tossing wife, Letitia (Jill Clayburgh). The nextgeneration certainly doesn’t stand much of a chance of holding on toit. There’s golden-boy Patrick (Billy Baldwin), the future New Yorksenator with a transsexual mistress; Karen (Natalie Zea), who stillpines for her long-ago ex, Nick, as she prepares to wed her avaricious fourth husband (“Nick deflowered me,” she tells the poorsap); Brian (Glenn Fitzgerald), the Episcopalian minister with anillegitimate son and a petty, toddler-like resentment of Nick; theParis Hilton-like Juliet (The O.C.‘s Samaire Armstrong), who fails equally atacting and suicide attempts; and her twin, Jeremy (Nip/Tuck‘sSeth Gabel), the clueless, coke-using ne’er-do-well (“I can’t even wina yacht without getting arrested,” he complains).

The script offers some delicious dialogue that recalls Dynasty andother over-the-top ’80s soaps. “I want to be a human being,” saysJuliet at one point, to which her own mom replies: “Someday you’ll beone.” In another exchange, Nick tries to persuade Patrick to confronthis boy/girlfriend on his own instead of sending him as intermediary,culminating in Nick’s insta-classic challenge: “Is she more of a manthan you?”

Mind you, there are plenty of potholes to disrupt this Park Avenueidyll. Not to mention plot holes. Do we really believe that Nick wouldso easily accept a job that he hated his father for doing? Or that thisupstanding lawyer would be so provoked by the pastor insulting hisdad that he’d chase him around like a schoolboy playing tag and tacklehim in the Darling mansion foyer? Or that he’d be blocked by policefrom entering the church for his own father’s funeral? (Speaking ofthat scene, the wide shot of the church steps showing aless-than-robust crowd of onlookers is one of the pilot’s rare visualflubs, as is the scene in which Jeremy uses a blowing hand dryer in abathroom that’s supposedly the john “at Ethan Hawke’s place.”)

But the top-flight performers manage to brush off many of theimplausibilities, taking even dumb scenes and playing them smartly. Iparticularly liked Krause twitching his eyebrow when Tripp too-quicklyagrees to double his original salary offer from $5 million to $10million. That single flash of knowing surprise suggested that Nick waswell aware he’d been played by Tripp and should remain on his guard.

So, what did you think of Dirty Sexy Money? Will you keep tuning into the tabloidy exploits of the Darling family? And more importantlyfor me as I contemplate a remodel of my bathroom: Should I think aboutinstalling a blowing hand dryer so I won’t have to worry aboutlaundering guest towels?