The Black Donnellys S01E01 – Pilot

27 02 2007

With Scorsese riding high on the critical acclaim of his Irish mob movie, The Departed, NBC were lucky to be able to launch The Black Donnellys a day after The Oscars, a gritty drama about an Irish family who are on their way to becoming the mob. Starting after last night’s episode of Heroes, with many people probably still passed out from the quality of that episode, this show had it’s work cut out to wake people up and make them pay attention.

It started well, the narration of a character in custody explaining the family’s upbringing, with a little bit of humour. It seems the four brothers are very different in both looks and personality, in an attempt to skew across all demographics and tastes. I know it was only a pilot, but I didn’t really connect with any of them. Actually before I go on I’ll tell you that the version I viewed was probably slightly different to the version that made it to TV, so I may not be making sense.

The music was a floaty Enya-esque sound throughout, and at some points it got in the way of and drew attention away from what was happening. I don’t want to make Sopranos comparisons, but you would only ever hear music in that program when something bad was about to go down, so I sat in fear throughout this pilot. But it turned out the music was more of a filler montage thing, and I had nothing to worry about. As an aside, is there a correlation between the quality of a program and the amount of montage music there is? Discuss.

I was impressed with the level of violence that NBC allowed onto network TV, although I shouldn’t be surprised. Every time I watch US TV these days, I discover new ways to kill people (or myself), in ways more violent than I could have imagined. So I was wincing at the beating handed out to Shaun (?), even though I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to die.

As good as I thought Donnellys was, I don’t think I can take on another serialised program, so episode 2 better be good if they want me to keep watching. I hope they stick with the narration, as always t will allow for more complex plot lines to be explained to basic viewers, and that character is pretty funny.

A lot is riding on this show, at the very least it’s previous time slot occupant Studio 60, so check back here later to find out how The Black Donnellys did in the ratings, and if it was enough to keep the wolves from the cancellation door.

As I said last week, in the UK Channel 4 bought this, and with the end of Sopranos nigh, this should fit right into that E4 slot.

Now for the links. If you have a US iTunes account, NBC are offering the pilot here for ‘free’ (you like that word don’t cha?) and it is a slightly higher quality than the illegal Divx versions that I’m seeing. If you are in the US, you can watch the whole episode here on the NBC website. Haven’t found a way for international users to get in on that, but me and my team are working on it. and by team, I mean me. Just me.

Update:- According to TV squad, it didn’t do too well. It lost a good chunk of Heroes lead in, but still started with a respectable 10 million viewers. But by the end, this was down to 6 million, which is never a good sign. I’m not sure if that is enough toput the kibosh on Studio 60, I think we will have to see how episode 2 fares first, and maybe how the program holds up without a new episode of Heroes as a lead-in.

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3 responses

3 03 2007
SK

I just got round to watching this and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I like the way the have filmed it and as you mentioned I thought the narration was excellent. I am surprised by the drop in ratings so I hope that it carries on.

I personally think that this has enough to keep it going admittedly only after watching just one episode. I never really got the sopranos so thats maybe why I like this. thumbs up from me anyway.

7 04 2007
SK

Well It seems that you were right with your update. rumours abound that it will be killed after just 8 episodes ending on 16th April. shame really as I quite liked it but you know how it goes. they are ruthless in TV land.

Could you imagine what they would do if they controlled UK TV. there would be nothing showing with the dross the big channels manage to *produce*

9 04 2007
ebarnieh

I tell you what, they would be ruthless but as a result there would be no Corrie, Eastenders, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks… the other one! Thats got to be worth something!!

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