The Black Donnellys should not have been cancelled.

I watched a fair amount of tv while I was knocked out for a week and a half with my illness. One thing I finally got around to watching was the Black Donnellys, a short lived NBC show about an irish mob family. I tried watching it back when it actually aired, but after I found out it was cancelled I bailed on it.

I finally got around to watching it all the way through, and now I have to say the cancellation of this show was criminal. The network pulled it after only 5 episodes, in order to air “the real life wedding crashers” … eew.

Anyway, the show is pretty good. There are some melodramatic moments and the soundtrack is at times a little too heavy handed, but it’s still better than 90% of what’s on TV. It probably doesn’t stack up that well next to the Sopranos, but I wouldn’t know… I’m not the TV geek of this household.

Why’s it worth watching? Great performances all around, solid writing, and good characters. I particularly like the character of Joey Ice Cream, who is the narrator of the show. Several of the episodes try to undercut Joey’s authority as the narrator, so it isn’t exactly clear how true all these events are. This is good, it allows for several cute little meta story telling moments, while also letting the producers get away with more than a little creative freedom.

It’s loosely loosely based loosely on the real life Black Donnellys. The time period is different and it takes place in Hell’s Kitchen… I’m sure there are many other changes as well. If you’re a stickler for details, this may bother you. I don’t know a whole lot about the actual history the show is based on, but I felt the need to mention that.

I suggest watching the first episode and seeing if it grabs you or not. It does have one of the strongest first episodes I’ve seen in a long time. It very quickly establishes all the characters, let’s you get to know them, and then throws them all into hell … all in one hour. Watch this episode and you will probably be on board for the rest of the series. It does slow down a little bit around the middle, where the Donnelly brothers and the “evil” characters on the show are at a bit of a standoff, but it builds to an action packed season finale.

Speaking of that finale… I’ll warn you now it doesn’t completely wrap everything up. There will be plenty of questions about the fates of several of the characters, but still it’s worth seeing. Without ruining anything it still ends on a strong note.

I won’t bitch about it the same way I do about Arrested Development or Firefly getting cancelled, but I will bitch about it just a little more than Wonderfalls. It’s amazing how short lived a show can be these days…

It’s only one season long, give The Black Donnelly’s a try.


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July 2009
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