So! Peter Krause is Nick George, who's taken over his recently deceased dad's position as consigliere to the Darlings, a Kennedy-esque family with Donald Sutherland at its head. Donald's character is Tripp; he's married to Letitia (Jill Clayburgh), and they have five children: Patrick (Billy Baldwin), who's the New York Attorney General; Brian (Glenn Fitzgerald), a volatile, philandering priest; Karen (Natalie Zea), a multiple divorcée who may still be in love with Nick; Juliet (Samaire Armstrong), a spoiled Daddy's girl; and Jeremy (Seth Gabel), a gambling, drug-using ne'er-do-well. Now that you have a little background, I'll go in order.
At the beginning, Nick watches as the wreckage of a plane is pulled from the water; he tells us that his dad, Dutch, worked for the Darlings when Nick was a kid, and it was hard on him and his family. In flashback, we see his mom leave his dad as Nick tells us that he promised that he would never work for the Darlings. Then two weeks ago, his dad's plane crashed, and everything changed. At the funeral, the Darlings are treated like rock stars while Nick needs their help just to get in. We learn that Nick is well-liked by all the Darlings except for Brian, who resents both his and dad's involvement in the family. After the funeral, Nick has a drink with Tripp; he tells his wife that Tripp wants to start a fund in Dutch's name, but really, Tripp wants Nick to be their family attorney. Nick is more into being a sort of lawyer version of Robin Hood, but when Tripp offers him ten million a year to give to charitable causes on top of his salary and not having to give up his practice, Nick accepts the job. He's psyched, and he tells his wife so, but the fact that Nick is going to continually be putting out the Darlings' fires becomes immediately apparent: Jeremy has some issues with a yacht he won in a poker game, which ends up getting him arrested for human trafficking; Karen hits on Nick while on an appointment with her fiancé; Brian wants to get his illegitimate son into an exclusive private school; and Juliet has to deal with the fact that her dad bought her way into a play.
Nick does his best to deal with all of this, but what he doesn't know is that Juliet takes a bunch of pills while he's busy getting Jeremy out of jail. That night, at the Darling parents' anniversary party, Letitia and Tripp get choked up over memories of Dutch, while Patrick gets a quick visit from Candis Cayne, with whom he's clearly having an affair. Patrick summons Nick for a damage-control conference, but on his way, Nick gets sidelined by Karen, who's distraught about her fiancé. This leads to Nick's wife thinking there's something going on, which in turn leads to Nick having a fight with Brian, but all these distractions are forgotten when Juliet's overdose is discovered.
This leads Nick to quit his job, but as he leaves, Patrick catches him and gets him to go for a ride. As it happens, Candis Cayne is a tranny (...no, I mean her character) and Patrick wants Nick to pay her off and tell her it's over, but Nick refuses. Next, Karen summons him and tells him that she's learned that Brian paid a large sum to an airplane mechanic, which is suspicious, given the circumstances of Dutch's death, and also because Dutch and Letitia were SLEEPING TOGETHER FOR FORTY YEARS. In the last act, we see the plane dragged from the water, and then a detective tells Nick that since it was submerged for two weeks, any evidence from it is going to be sketchy. She hands Nick a briefcase retrieved from a lockbox on the plane, saying it contains personal effects of his dad's. Tripp then shows up and offers Nick his condolences while getting him to take his job back. As Nick flies off, we see the Darling children: Juliet leaves home; Brian's kid's mother dumps their son off on him; Patrick lies in bed with Candis Cayne; Freddy details his plans to spend Karen's money. In VO, Nick says he's going to find out who killed his father. "And when I do, they're gonna pay." More than ten million? SWEET!
So I saw Billy Baldwin on Jimmy Kimmel Live saying that he described this show as the Kennedys meeting Paris Hilton. For me, it's Brothers And Sisters meets Cruel Intentions (although I'll admit that description was more fitting for the original pilot). But really, either description makes me want to watch it, and I'd be surprised if they didn't do the same for you.
One other thing: as I mentioned above, I had the opportunity, thanks to the new setup at Bravo, to see the original pilot of this show a few weeks ago, and I was incredibly impressed. I'd heard that they did some reshoots for the aired version, but I wasn't sure to what degree they were changing the story. The answer is: a lot. Like, seriously, a lot. I have to admit that I was a little thrown by the new version, but on reflection, I understand that the biggest goal was to make the character of Nick more likable. I kind of preferred him the old way -- I thought it was more realistic -- but it's probably better for the show's long-term health to have him be a bit less aloof. I was thinking of doing a combined recap of both pilots, but I decided it would be too onerous and confusing a read. Hopefully, though, if the show sticks around, I'll get to do the unaired version as an Extra, and you can compare and contrast then. Onward!
We start with a lovely aerial shot (the camerawork in this episode is really awesome) of a crane on a barge out on the water somewhere. A close-up shows a small wrecked plane being pulled up as Peter Krause VOs that the love of money is the root of all evil, or at least that's what they say. We see the man in question watching from a nearby dock with a perturbed expression on his face. The VO goes on to say that Peter Krause (okay, his character's name is Nick George) always believed that about the love of money, because when he was a kid, his dad worked for the richest family in New York City, the Darlings. We fall into a flashback, wherein a kid of about eight or nine is watching his WASP-y parents have a fight about the fact that the dad spends too much time attending to the Darling family. The mother storms out, but the dad gives his son a wink, although he still looks chagrined. In another flashback, Nick's mom, suitcases in hand, walks down the brownstone steps as she tells Nick's dad, "Dutch," that she's not coming back. Considering that she killed herself in the original pilot, I'm thinking I believe her. Nick's mom stops to tell him (the kid looks to be about six and looks disturbingly like a young Haley Joel Osment) that it's not his fault, and then she's waving to him from a cab. I'm surprised she didn't fight to take him with her, but maybe it was a battle she knew she would lose. I'd imagine the consigliere to a filthy-rich family would have a few courtroom tricks up his sleeve. The VO tells us that he grew up in his father's shadow, as in another flashback, Nick and a group of kids, presumably the Darling children, are marching into a room at what looks like it might be a birthday or a Halloween party, but Dutch stops Nick following the other kids and tells him to wait out there; Dutch has to take care of a few things. Before the door closes, a boy of about Nick's age, in clown makeup, tells Nick he hates him, while a younger girl counters that she loves him. I'm going to make a completely random guess and say they're Brian and Karen. The door closes, and as a wider shot reveals that we're probably somewhere on Park Avenue, Nick's VO says he promised himself that when he grew up, he'd never be anything like his dad. Well, so far you're doing a pretty good job, what with being alive and all. "And I would never work for the Darlings." Oh. Well, as an attorney, you probably are aware that you can't win them all.