Let’s Talk About NBC’s The Black Donnellys

I’ll admit to being a fan of Studio 60, and during the summer it was by far my favourite pilot out of those I had the pleasure to watch during my spare time. However, it’s now officially lost favour, and last week aired what could be its last episode ever. It is, at the very least, its last episode in this timeslot for the next few months as The Black Donnellys takes its place.

Originally planned to be taking over ER’s timeslot, NBC got too excited about ER’s strong hold in the timeslot and put The Black Donnellys on the back burner. The show was originally conceived a decade ago, when Paul Haggis was just another Canadian TV writer. Now, oscar-winning Paul Haggis has a bit more clout, and thus we get the show entering into the post-Heroes slot at 10pm EST.

Now, I watched the pilot back over the summer, and to be entirely honest with you I enjoyed it. I thought the premise was good, the action palpable, and I thought it did an amazing job of “setting the stage” with a stunning final sequence punctuated by the use of The Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion (Lies).” It was a powerful scene that likely clouded my judgment of the rest of the Pilot, but it’s still a solid piece of work. This being said, keep a few things in mind when watching this evening (What are you going to watch instead? What About Brain? Please.)

– Do you like voiceover narration? I don’t know if this has changed from the initial pilot, but it seems unlikely: the story is told from the perspective of Joey Ice Cream being interrogated in jail. The construct is a bit weary, but the show does an admirable job with it. Still, at times it feels quite forced, and part of my hopes that it will go away after the Pilot…but somehow I find that unlikely.

– Olivia Wilde, late of Fox’s The OC and its lesbian storyline, is a brunette here, and it’s really tough to buy her in the role to be honest with you. Perhaps similarly to another blonde young actress who went brunette for a substantial career boost (Kate Bosworth, I’m looking in your direction), she just doesn’t click in the role as she should, and unlike Bosworth she doesn’t have the material to rise above her acting deficiencies.

– The family drama at the centre (Four brothers, etc.) is really quite cliched to be honest with you. I’m far more interested in the power struggle between the Donnelly brothers and the established bosses, which actually contains some dramatic material to mine compared to the brothers (The young promiscuous one, the old wrong side of the tracks one, the middle one with something to prove, and the one that has to keep them all together). The mystery at the centre of their relationship is honestly boring, although it works well within the pilot structure.

While I may not be the show’s biggest fan, I think it’s worth your time to check out the pilot tonight (Unless you’re too tired from a long night of Oscar watching and need your rest, I understand how you feel). Tune in to see if the Arcade Fire let them use their song (All signs point to no, which is downright tragic), and see whether or not the show clicks with you. If it clicks, you’ll be seeing it for awhile. If not, we might have Studio 60 back sooner than we thought.

5 Comments

Filed under Television

5 responses to “Let’s Talk About NBC’s The Black Donnellys

  1. Joe

    I watched the first 20 minutes but I put on the headphones to listen to the new Dizzee Rascal song (up on the blog) and totally forgot. It is still on right now. About 20 more minutes. I’ll go check it out.

    Did you watch Heroes? Are you a fan?

  2. Please tell me that your “What about Brain?” typo was intentional, because it’s pretty hilarious.

  3. Sadly, it was not intentional.

    And, for those interested, the Arcade Fire song was replaced by Snow Patrol. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t compare.

  4. …it wasn’t “Chasing Cars,” was it? Because that would be uber-lame.

  5. Joe

    I am dumbfounded how someone could like Snow Patrol. And believe me, some do.

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