• Network: NBC
  • Series Premiere Date: Feb 26, 2007
  • Season #: 1

Mixed or average reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 30
  2. Negative: 12 out of 30
  1. It feels like Haggis and Moresco are picking up right where “EZ Streets” left off.
  2. 75
    These tall tales flow into a stream of consciousness. That's good. The acting is convincing. That's good. The Irish stuff is heavy-handed. That's bad.
  3. 75
    A terrific series pilot that gives off little echoes of everything from "GoodFellas" to "The Departed."
  4. All the Haggis-Moresco touches are here, from the imaginative choices and uses of music to the sly surprises and twisted humor.
  5. 75
    It gets an unexpected freshness from a young cast. [5 Mar 2007, p.37]
  6. If you enjoy complex, murky dramas about morally ambiguous characters, played by a talented cast of newcomers, then enjoy "The Black Donnellys" while it lasts.
  7. 70
    Those viewers who can come to terms with Joey's voice will find themselves richly rewarded by the powerful performances of Tucker as Tommy Donnelly and Olivia Wilde as Jenny Reilly.
  8. 70
    Where The Sopranos slices and dices American culture from a thousand different angles and The Brotherhood explores the shadowy nexus between crime and politics, The Black Donnellys sticks mainly to the vices, virtues and vicissitudes of family.
  9. It's a swell story, if sometimes grim.
  10. What we have here is accomplished and absorbing television.
  11. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Haggis equates the slow revealing of character and plot with classy writing; you'll probably experience it as stuff you can see coming a mile away.
  12. [It] ultimately succumbs to being an inferior story on a broadcast network that can't even remotely match two far better cable series ["The Sopranos" and "Brotherhood"].
  13. 50
    While "Studio 60" is/was an annoying, insidery and smug series about the inside doings of the annoyingly smug cast of a "Saturday Night Live-ish" show, "Donnellys" is the annoying, insidery and smug series about the doings of the Donnelly brothers, low-level thugs in Hell's Kitchen in New York City.
  14. Maybe this show would be more compelling if the Donnellys were a little less black and a little more gray.
  15. If "Donnellys" wants a shot at doing better than "Studio 60" in its timeslot, it needs at least a hint of a larger-than-life figure.
  16. 40
    Ultimately "The Black Donnellys" pales in the light of its lofty influences.
  17. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    The next four episodes are nowhere near as patient and controlled as that cinematic pilot, but, man, are they Irish: the wakes, the neon shamrock, the epigraphs from W.B. Yeats and D.P. Moynihan. And the show keeps this magnificent blarney up even as it swipes half its ideas from the playbooks of Scorsese and The Godfather.
  18. It sounds like the kind of "keeping up with HBO" series Showtime would do, except the premium cable channel already aired an Irish mobster series, "Brotherhood." And it had richer characters and superior plotting.
  19. 30
    The Black Donnellys is not top of the world... or the second coming of The Sopranos. The new drama is old wine poured into fancy, contemporary bottles.
  20. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    [A] grim, brooding, utterly muddled crime series.
  21. 30
    Unfortunately, the young actors on display aren’t compelling enough to make us care much beyond their sometimes stupidly self-induced crises.
  22. 30
    While "The Sopranos" and "Brotherhood" make it look easy, "The Black Donnellys" makes it excruciatingly clear just how difficult it is to tell a soulful story about criminals.
  23. 25
    You'll eventually be able to tell one gun-toting, ax-wielding character from another. You're just not likely to develop a desire to spend time with them.
  24. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    "Donnellys" creaks and sighs, moans and slumps, and ambles along like a world-weary cliche, unable or unwilling to lift its head above the humdrum banality to which it has been consigned.
  25. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    To say these guys are stereotypes does insult to the clichés they clumsily represent.
  26. 10
    This pretentious mishmash is a paint-by-numbers Irish-American "Sopranos" ripoff.
  27. Like “Crash,” “The Black Donnellys” is more of a lecture than a drama.
  28. As they stumble from one brutal act to another, accompanied by a hip rock soundtrack, we're not watching dramatic art; it's more like "Dawson's Creek" for psychopaths.
  29. NBC sent out five episodes; I sat through three before throwing the DVD on the Donate to Public Library pile. I would like to apologize in advance to the library.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 217 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 149
  1. Feb 5, 2013
    I thought this was a very good show that was not given a chance. I enjoyed the plots of each episode and I thought the characters wereI thought this was a very good show that was not given a chance. I enjoyed the plots of each episode and I thought the characters were interesting. All in all, good entertainment. I would have liked to have seen what happened in the second season but, alas, the show was canceled. Full Review »
  2. fyzaha
    Sep 8, 2009
    Will the network see these votes? If so, the drive is to bring back this drama, and they should consider what the viewers would like!
  3. SteveO.
    Aug 25, 2009
    This is one of the only shows I've ever cared enough about to never miss an episode. The dialog, the story-telling style, the plot, and This is one of the only shows I've ever cared enough about to never miss an episode. The dialog, the story-telling style, the plot, and the acting were excellent. The only better show ever cancelled after one season was Firefly. Full Review »