The Black Donnellys : Season 1

  • Network: NBC
  • Series Premiere Date: Feb 26, 2007
Metascore
45

Mixed or average reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 30
  2. Negative: 12 out of 30

Where To Watch

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    30
    [A] grim, brooding, utterly muddled crime series.
  2. 20
    To say these guys are stereotypes does insult to the clichés they clumsily represent.
  3. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    20
    "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.
  4. 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.
  5. 10
    This pretentious mishmash is a paint-by-numbers Irish-American "Sopranos" ripoff.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 30
    Unfortunately, the young actors on display aren’t compelling enough to make us care much beyond their sometimes stupidly self-induced crises.
  11. 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.
  12. Like “Crash,” “The Black Donnellys” is more of a lecture than a drama.
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 220 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 151
  1. Oct 27, 2015
    10
    It was an extremely well-conceived series. Unfortunately, it was produced in denial of the reality, that it wouldn't reach its audience untilIt was an extremely well-conceived series. Unfortunately, it was produced in denial of the reality, that it wouldn't reach its audience until it found its way to internet streaming, years after it was cancelled. Oh well. It's the last thing keeping my subscription to Netflix active. Once I'm done with Black Donnellys, there's nothing left on TV worth watching, IMHO. Full Review »
  2. Oct 18, 2015
    4
    NBC's answer to the Sopranos, was a show called The Black Donnellys, and it was a show about the Irish mob, starring Jonathan Tucker, who isNBC's answer to the Sopranos, was a show called The Black Donnellys, and it was a show about the Irish mob, starring Jonathan Tucker, who is as talented as he is good looking, so what went wrong? As it turns out, there were a lot of things wrong with this show that could have been easily corrected. We forget though that this is the era of on-demand, DVR, and Netflix, and in today's world, network shows that don't crack the top 50 in their first 13 episodes, don't stand a chance.

    The Donnelly brothers grew up in a tough Boston neighborhood, and their father, was heavily involved in the Irish mob. Wanting a better life, Mr. Donnelly's four sons inherited his bar and try to run a legitimate business. There is of course a problem, not all the Donnelly's are keeping their noses clean. Eventually, a pair of brothers run into problems with the Italians, and have to learn the lessons their father never wanted them to learn. The show has a very solid backstory and if it were presented in the correct way, I think it could have been a huge hit, but as it turns out, the show was like a bad joke, which only a handful of viewers seemed to get.

    For starters, the show is narrated by a wise-cracking family friend who is always telling the story in some comedic way to one law enforcement agency or another. The big joke is how does this guy know all these things when he's not there, and then, just like that, he's randomly there in the background, with everyone looking confused.

    The timing of the story is also problematic, because when you're doing a show like this, you need to draw viewers in before starting the story from the very beginning. Would anyone have watched the Sopranos if Tony Soprano was a twenty year old kid, just getting started? If this show had started a few years later, when the brothers were established gangsters, in some full on mafia war, and then gone back and showed how it all started, it would have been a lot more interesting. As I watched the episodes, I could see the show leading into something bigger and better, but it never go there. I suspect there were big plans for future seasons, but how can you start a show assuming there will be more seasons?

    As for the brothers, they are all former child stars, led by Jonathan Tucker. While he's not a huge star in Hollywood, he has made it a lot further than his co-stars, and his experience and talent are very evident, especially by comparison. Tucker has what it takes to take the lead in a show like this and draw in an audience, but that's impossible when the show is poorly written and just doesn't seem to go anywhere.

    The bottom line, I like the idea behind the show and there were a couple of really interesting characters. If this show had lasted, I have no doubt that it would have grown into something bigger and better, but as it stands, The Black Donnellys didn't make past it's first season, and with good cause. I kept waiting for things to happen that never did and eventually gave up on it too. Having an idea for a long running series usually means that show will be well written and highly intelligent, but in today's world, if you want to go beyond one season, then you really need to go all out, right from the beginning, if not, you'll be a forgotten show on Netflix, that some talented reviewer finally sees eight years after the fact.
    Full Review »
  3. Feb 5, 2013
    10
    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 »