The Black Donnellys : Season 1

  • Network: NBC
  • Series Premiere Date: Feb 26, 2007
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 220 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 23 out of 220

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User Reviews

  1. Jack
    Feb 27, 2007
    4
    Wow I was mildly interested in this show when I first saw the previews. I did have some hope but I should have known Haggis would ruin the concept which in principle could be something entertaining to watch. But alas from what I could tell from the first episode the writing is very poor and the story shifting around blindly was something I found very annoying. Also the show had several Wow I was mildly interested in this show when I first saw the previews. I did have some hope but I should have known Haggis would ruin the concept which in principle could be something entertaining to watch. But alas from what I could tell from the first episode the writing is very poor and the story shifting around blindly was something I found very annoying. Also the show had several failed attempts at being funny through playing on typical stereotypes of the Irish which was really just sad. All the characters are one dimensional as is the plot. I might keep watching to see if the show gets any better but if the first ep was any indication The black donnelys is a show that isn't gonna be around for long. By the way the narrator in the show, guy in prison, was very very annoying. Expand
  2. FernandoA
    May 15, 2007
    4
    The show had some good acting on the part of the main couple, but the whole setup was implausible and the writing was full of cliches, starting with the unsufferable narrator. I am glad it did not last.
  3. 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 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,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 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.
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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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. [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"].