TV Review: for Love or Money
Sun Jun 1, 8:39 PM ET
By Ray Richmond
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Poor NBC. For the network that is now putting the "broad" in broadcasting, it has come to this: a "Bachelor" knockoff from executive producer Bruce Nash ("Meet My Folks," "Mr. Personality") that seems like an unintentional parody of the whole quasi-reality dating/get-rich-quick genre.
It's like, all of the good (and even bad) ideas are now taken, so what's left? How about "Joe Bachelor Personality Millionaire?" That's pretty much "For Love or Money" in a nutshell, taking several established concepts, stirring and winding up with a bewildering, completely absurd mishmash.
It's not a good sign when a TV critic watching the two-hour opener is left confused as to the goal and payoff. But that's the case. Here's what was clear: Rob, a 33-year-old lawyer from Dallas with chiseled good looks, a soft-spoken manner and improbably perfect hair, showed up at a Bel-Air mansion to choose from among 15 foxy young bachelorettes (only two of whom were as old as 30). He is clearly looking for love. But that's where the easy answers end.
See, what Rob doesn't know (but the ladies do) is that the femme he selects to be his ... er ... "something" will also be receiving $1 million. Maybe. She will then be choosing between keeping the million or keeping him. Only she doesn't know until the very end that she'll have to make that choice. I think. And Rob also may or may not become privy to the whole money thing before he has to make a final choice. But we're just not sure. But that's really pure speculation on my part. In fact, my take on the concept itself is a bit speculative. Don't expect much help from our overly earnest host, Jordan Murphy.
Of course, there would be nothing stopping the winning lady from rejecting Rob, grabbing the cash and then taking up secretly with him (or at a later date). What is NBC going to do, sue her for the money back? But alas, we digress.
"For Love or Money" is all staged from the perspective of the women, naturally. And when we say "staged," that should perhaps be taken literally. There are, after all, four story editors (including a senior one) listed in the credits, which would seem to indicate more than a bit of choreography inside the, uh, reality. And you can pretty much predict where all of the various plot (yes, plot) twists and turns will fall in the two-hour kickoff (with five weeks to follow). Here is where they dress to kill. Here is where they backstab. Here is where they start to form alliances. Here is where the bad girls emerge and the good girls start gossiping about them.
It all leads to the usual collection of soft-focus cameras, candlelight, momentous music and super slo-mo (used to maximum effect while the women descend a winding staircase to meet their man for the first time). The final half-hour is utilized to make for the most drawn-out elimination of five candidates imaginable, one designed to impose maximum humiliation on the rejected. The handful of first-week walkoffs must make a show of tossing $1 million checks made out to them into a roaring fire and then enter waiting taxicabs that will take them back where they're presumably wanted.
"For Love or Money" is so intensely dreadful that you can actually feel your brain stem separating from your cranium while watching it. To paraphrase a popular slogan, it's not TV. It's NBC.
Credits: Executive producers: Bruce Nash, J.D. Roth, Todd Nelson, John Foy; Supervising producer/director: Brian Smith; Producers: Adam Greener, Susan Hoenig; Line producer: Eric Westmore; Field producers: Peter Herschko, Samantha Kurtzman-Counter; Director of photography: Matthew Sohn; Production designer: John Janavs; Art director: Dave Blass; Cast producer: Rob LaPlante; Senior story editor: Steven M. Bortko; Story editors: Elayne Cilic, Suzanne Pate, Shye Sutherland; Editors: Willie Castro, Brian Phillips, Tori Rodman, Allison Sumner, Andrew Zoeller; Music: David Vanacore; Casting: Jennifer Camarra, Alissa Haight, Marc Levine. Host: Jordan Murphy.