Film and TV

NBC's Deception: Rich People Killing Each Other

Rich people. When will they ever figure out that money doesn't buy happiness and rather it buys drugs, good clothing, nice beachfront property and, oh yes, MURDER.

Last night NBC premiered its new soapdram, Deception, which the Peacock is pinning a lot of its hope on as a mid-season winner. As I was in need of a primetime show about screwed-up, overprivileged millionares to make myself feel better, I thought to give this one a go. Deception is not your typical bored-socialite program. No, when these socialites get bored, they commit MURDER.

The setup is exactly what you'd expect, and the barrage of previews for the show spared no details. Big sister of the über-wealthy Bower family overdoses, or does she? Who may be able to find out the truth? Why her old best friend who happens to be a cop and can easily meld back into the life of the Bowers to get to the bottom of it all.

Vivian Bowers...let me pause a moment here. Do rich people get a different baby name book than us folk can buy at Amazon or what? Maybe Hollywood has a list of what it deems as an aristocratic-sounding name because every member of this family has a first name that just sounds like it's dripping in money. Their names are right out of a John Hughes movie.

Vivian Bowers walks down an abandoned city street; a man whom we cannot see is following her. But Viv knows him just fine, and she tells him to get in her car. As fast as you can say "dolla dolla bill," she is found dead in a crummy motel. The cause of her death is noted as an overdose, despite the fact that she has a huge gash in her face that contains three holes, as if someone with a three-pronged ring had punched her lights out. But no, the cause of death is overdose.

Soon we see each member of her family receive the news, and we learn a bit about them in the process. Dad Robert Bowers (Victor Garber of Legally Blonde fame, and Alias and a whole bunch of other stuff) runs a drug company that is about to launch a cancer cure pill. Hooray! Nothing illegal can be going on there. He is visibly distraught upon hearing the news. His young, cold frigid trophy wife, Sophia Bowers (Katherine LaNasa), couldn't care less about the death of her stepdaughter. She seems like a woman who spas a lot and consumes bottles of Xanax and chardonnay simultaneously. Older bro Edward Bowers (Tate Donovan, of course) seems despondent. He's got troubles of his own, namely trying to shake a murder charge for some chick he probably strangled a few years back.

Then there is younger brother Julian Bowers (Wes Brown, of 90210 fame), who is very upset, upset enough to get out of bed and away from a naked woman and a bottle of scotch. So we get what this dude's all about in five seconds. Julian heads to tell his little sister Mia (Ella Rae Peck of Gossip Girl notoriety), who is dressed in a school uniform. She breaks down. I guess she really loved her sister.

Fast-forward to Detective Joanna Locasto (the stunning Meagan Good), who is visited by three ghosts. No, she's just visited by her old partner, who is now an FBI agent and in need of her help. He tells her of the passing of Vivian, whom Joanna grew up with and for some time considered a best friend. They had a falling-out; we don't know why. But I have a feeling we'll learn.

Since Joanna is so in with this crazy rich family, she should go undercover as herself and try to get in with them and see what she can find out. The FBI isn't so much worried about who killed Viv the junky; they want the family on extortion and whatever white-collar crimes rich people do. Joanna agrees.

Dad Bowers is very excited to see Joanna, and an allusion is made to the fact that her mother used to work for the family. The other person who is excited to see her is hot Julian. As the plot progresses, Joanna has flashbacks of her and Vivian as young girls. She used to bang Julian and maybe Viv wasn't too pleased. Also during these flashbacks we see lots of Viv downing pills, drinking and generally being a defiant young lady who will eventually overdose.

The family insists that Joanna stick around for a bit and she agrees. This is great because, you know, she's actually an undercover cop wearing a wire.

Not everyone is thrilled with Joanna's stay. Creepy Edward doesn't trust her and says as much. He is pretty much a miserable person; his wife seems to hate him, as do most of his family members. He sneaks around and is weird. He is not the killer, too obvious.

Young Mia, who also has a penchant for downing pills, has a new friend stop by the house that she discovered through dead Viv's address book. Mia doesn't know, but the guy turns out to be a reporter trying to break a case on the so-called cancer cure the Bower family is about to drop into the market. According to Mr. Pulitzer, the drug is deadly. He confides this to Joanna over tacos, after having found out that she is a cop. But he doesn't last very long. His car is slammed into a river by another car. This was neither an accident nor very surprising.

While searching around for Vivian's old drug stash, Joanna comes across a memory stick that contains a sex tape of Vivian and some guy. Vivian makes mention of being pregnant and that it "won't be like last time." Uh-oh. What happened last time?

It doesn't take too long to put two and two together. Vivian had a baby before when she was a teenager and Joanna was such a crap BFF she thought Vivian was just drunk.

The baby was born on the same day as her half-sister Mia. Blam. Mia is really Vivian's daughter!

As the episode comes to a close, a tortured-looking Julian sits on his family's dock holding a ring up for all of us to see. It has three prongs. He drops it into the water and moans in emotional pain. He is so hot.

A lot happens in the Deception season opener, maybe too much. I don't know if it is due to the fact that I have seen the previews so many times or if I have seen this show in some weird past life, but I have seen this show in some weird past life. I could swear to you I have watched this episode before. A few years ago, ABC attempted a show called Dirty Sexy Money and while it was different in tone, it reminded me a lot of Deception. Rich family, tries to cover up murder, regular person trying to uncover murder, gets caught up in the wealthsanity (I just made that word up).

Deception is very dark, however, and no one seems at all happy, unlike the aforementioned ABC program. Of course, that could be due to the fact that a member of their family just died, but it could be something else. Perhaps this show will examine the distressing extents that fake rich families have to go to in order to keep up appearances, or it will last 13 episodes and flake out. I was okay with the pilot and I will continue to watch as long as the clothing gets better. Why are you rich if you are not wearing fabulous clothing?

Random endnote -- you can say "tits" on network television? When did that happen?