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"The Black Donnellys"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"The Black Donnellys" More at IMDbPro »

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88 out of 99 people found the following review useful:

The makings of a great show

Author: burkiali from United States
26 February 2007

If there is something Paul Haggis is good at, it's storytelling.

The pilot was as captivating as a pilot can hope to be. The story begins to come together after the first ten minutes of an 'introduction' and it's an entertaining ride with thought behind it.

This casting is good, the characters have plenty of depth to play with and the writing is, well, Paul Haggis.

There's a lot of potential and I hope we see a great run from the Black Donnellys. It would be a pity if this goes the Arrested Development route.

Though, this is a very different show.

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84 out of 107 people found the following review useful:

Very Good. The Black Donnellys is the tits.

Author: andrewrunning
28 February 2007

I don't know what the problem is with this show.. that everyone seems to hate it, but I watched it, and I thought that it was very very good. The dialogue was good, the premise was dark, and of course, unbelievable. But seriously, what are the hit shows on today... Heroes? Lost? Desperate Housewives?, doesn't TV thrive on the unbelievable? I mean, why else would we watch something that could be going on nextdoor? Its just not that interesting. As for the comment that the good comments were just boosters from the show, the argument could be made that all the bad comments are from people that want to see the show fail. This is just as possible as boosters being on IMDb. Paul Haggis didn't get all of those Oscar noms for nothing. So heres to hoping that it stays on the air.

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62 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

Make No Mistake - The Black Donnelly's Should STAY.

Author: m0viEmAniA1029 from United States
7 March 2007

It's early to say this but judging by the first two episodes this show is going to be something special. I love this show. Now, granted I was at first interested in it because the main characters are Irish, as I am. But this show is about so much more than just being Irish, or even just the mob/organized crime. It's like the tagline for the show says.. "Family above all" and how far one brother is willing to go to protect his brothers. Will he put himself first? Or will he save his brothers? Some people say this show is like The Departed (Which I loved, so I'm not saying anything bad about the Departed)

It's only like The Departed because 1.) The main characters are Irish. 2.) It features some organized crime (but mostly dis-organized) and violence. This really is an excellent show. Not many shows have the balls to put so much effort into a pilot. Pilot episodes are usually those boring shows that set up the story but have nothing to them. This series pilot was intriguing and actually had a plot and trusted you to keep up, which is something most pilots wouldn't even dream of doing. The second episode just proved how great this show is. Not only is it violent and all - but it has a dark sense of humor. Which is great, I personally find it very entertaining.

So here's what I'll say... Watch the Black Donnellys. Give this show a chance. This is my new favorite TV show, and if NBC does something RIDICULOUS and cancels this amazing show I will forever give up watching TV because this is a great series and I can't wait to see how it unfolds.

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64 out of 84 people found the following review useful:

Paul Haggis returns to the Irish Mob

Author: BasiliskSt from United States
13 February 2007

The Black Donnellys is a return to form for Paul Haggis, the show's creator and executive producer. The lead characters are four Irish-American brothers in New York's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. Police, unions, and mob families interact in complex ways that recalls Haggis' short-lived television masterpiece EZ Streets. In The Black Donnellys, Haggis creates an engaging story of family loyalty, desperation, sacrifice and redemption. The Donnellys' world is not as dark and desperate as the unnamed rust belt city of EZ Streets, but the Donnellys are nonetheless bound by history to a path filled with conflict and drama. I found the story believable and engaging. The twists of the story reinforced the character development. Few shows manage such deft intertwining of plot and character. Most must either be characterized as plot-driven or character-driven. The Black Donnellys uses both artistic barrels, with stunning accuracy.

Based on the series Pilot, The Black Donnellys is highly recommended. NBC has a full order of 13 episodes. (The pilot is available through Netflix before the television premier scheduled for March 5, 2007 @ 10:00 PM Eastern, 9:00 PM Central.)

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54 out of 74 people found the following review useful:

Best show on TV!

Author: rushour144 from United States
28 February 2007

As for the whole Departed rip off... THINK AGAIN! I love Scorsese and would never put him down, I've seen the Departed 5 times, and this show does not even attempt to rip it off. The Departed is all about mix ups and backstabbing. Although The Departed does take place in a poor Irish neighborhood, The Black Donnelys take a whole new approach. This show is all about, well... brotherly love. Tommy will go so far as to go against everything he isn't to protect his brothers. This show does not start out slow at all. It is up in your face by second 1 and doesn't slow down. The intro is cool too. I almost think it will rise above The Sopranos (one of the greatest!) it is that good.

This is not a TV show, it is more a movie that is to long for theaters so they chopped it up and put it into a TV show.

As for what it replaced Studio 60 sucked. It was slow and dull and a wannabe attempt to try and make an entourage (the whole going into the actors behind the scenes life wise, not premise wise)show and did not work. That headline a while ago should be, WHAT was on before THE BLACK DONNELYS!

Please, if you even seem to like Scorsese or Guy Ritchie films whatsoever, WATCH THIS! You will not regret it!


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37 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

Probably the best pilot of the 06-07 season

Author: VerbalKint-2 from Canada
13 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*** There are no spoilers until later in this review, and they are clearly marked. ***

If internet rumours are to be believed, Paul Haggis has had this project in the works for the better part of a decade. Those rumours also imply that the box office and critical success of both Million Dollar Baby and Crash has made it much easier for him to find a home for this series about four Irish brothers living in what appears to be Hell's Kitchen, NYC.

I don't put much stock in those rumours, and feel Paul Haggis is being given too much credit for this project. And by too much credit, I mean he's being given ALL of the credit. That's due in large part to NBC's early promotion of the show (which will not premiere until mid-season) having Haggis' name stamped all over it. Not to mention the fact that just about everyone who's heard of this show knows its title is a reference to an Irish family, several of whom were viciously murdered in 1880 in a Southwestern Ontario (Canada) township not far from where Haggis grew up.

Paul Haggis' influence is certainly felt in the pilot episode of this series, which he directed and co-wrote. But the influence of co-writer/creator Bobby Moresco is also very apparent. It's clear that his knowledge of Hell's Kitchen (where he spent his childhood) and the consequences of power struggles between organized crime syndicates in that neighbourhood (Moresco's brother Tommy was murdered there in 1983) provided the perfect setting for Haggis' present-day Donnellys.

For the record, I'm not saying that Haggis hadn't been working on this for a while. In all likelihood, he had. But I do believe that this project found its legs when Haggis and Moresco worked together on Crash. I imagine a conversation between Haggis and Moresco where Haggis presents Moresco with the story of the real-life Black Donnellys and the idea of updating it from the 1800s to the present day. In turn, Moresco is reminded of the Westies, an Irish-American gang from his Hell's Kitchen childhood who often clashed with mafia families.

Those elements combine to form the basis of this new drama, set to take ER's time slot (10pm Thursdays) in January, 2007. NBC clearly has high hopes for this show. And after seeing the pilot, I can see why.


Told in narrated flashbacks, but never tipping its hand as to the eventual fates of the characters involved, the pilot buzzes along at breakneck speed. The narration is from a third-person perspective. That person is "Joey Ice Cream", an apparent petty criminal who knows everything and everyone in the neighbourhood. The kind of guy you go to if you want to know where the bodies are. And that's exactly what two detectives want to know.

We're given brief glimpses of the Donnelly boys' childhoods, insight into what made them the young men they are today, but mostly we're told how the brothers came to be, in Joey's opinion, the protectors of the neighbourhood.

Tommy Donnelly (Jonathan Tucker) is the brother with the most going for him...the one who stays out of trouble. Most everyone in the neighbourhood knows he's the one who could make something of himself, or "get out", as Joey Ice Cream puts it. Holding him back, however, are his brothers Sean (Michael Stahl-David), Kevin (Billy Lush) and Jimmy (Tom Guiry), whose constant scheming mean Tommy spends more time keeping them out of jail than pursuing his gift (Tommy is a talented artist).

A plan hatched by Jimmy, Kevin and Sean is necessitated by a five-thousand dollar gambling debt of Kevin's. Against Tommy's advice, the three criminally-inclined brothers kidnap an Italian gangster named Louie Downtown. Unfortunately for the Donnellys, the Italians catch wind of the fact that Louie was snatched by three Irishmen. The Donnellys are instantly implicated by Sal Minetta (Mark Margolis). Minetta's right-hand man Nicky Cottero (Kirk Acevedo) is dispatched to make the Donnellys pay. What follows changes the shape of the family, and in turn the neighbourhood.


The show feels gritty and natural. The writing is perfectly suited to the characters (in as much as network television allows such dialogue to be realistic), as are the actors playing those characters. The show obviously needs a strong lead, and Jonathan Tucker as Tommy is superb. He appears mature beyond his years, which of course the role requires. To this point, most of the other actors are, in relative terms, background...only there to support the story of Tommy's defining day, but they're all solid. I look forward to seeing them all develop.

In a season with an abnormally strong crop of new shows (the pilots of both Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Shark were very strong), The Black Donnellys appears to be the best of the bunch. Haggis' reworking of a notorious Canadian feud combined with Moresco's perfect setting has me wishing we could skip the next four months. January simply cannot come fast enough for me.

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36 out of 45 people found the following review useful:


Author: luckyfoshizzle from United States
6 March 2007

The first time I heard about this show was through all the ads on NBC and I just thought "dear God not another stupid TV show coming on the air for me to not watch" without really paying much attention. Then, the day it was set to premiere I heard a little more about it. The whole "brothers fighting for brothers" thing intrigued me. It kind of reminded me of "Four Brothers" (one of my personal favorite movies). So I decided to tune in. And boy, was I glad I did that.

This show is great! Finally, a little action and originality coming to TVs. You can tell that the writers wrote many movies just from the way its written, GREAT! The whole "Joey-Ice Cream telling the story" thing is quite original and with a little humor added into it.

Even though there's only been two episodes I can tell that I am definitely going to be tuning in for all the rest there is to come no matter how many that my be.

To break it all down, if you love movies/shows with action, drama, violence, with a little humor, etc. then you'll love this show. And if not, try to give it a shot, you probably won't regret it!

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17 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Looking Forward to Series Debut

Author: brettharlow123 from Los Angeles, CA
2 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*Based on the pilot I'm looking forward to seeing this show and hoping it can sustain the quality, the density and richness, of the pilot.

There's a lot of story in 40-odd minutes. A number of driven characters, each differently motivated, with some new, unusual, but welcome faces. I felt as if I were in actually in this neighborhood in New York. The production value is that of a feature film.

Forget the Super Bowl. This is what hi-def TV is made for.

The comment currently listed on this series's homepage is, in a word, stupid. It's insulting to the storytellers and the audience, not to mention that it contains spoilers. You don't have to be best buds with Haggis and Moresco to enjoy this show.

The challenges, naturally, other than the humdrum Herculean tasks of producing a show (13 eps? I heard?), will be the use of violence, language, and sex on network TV. Good luck and I'm waiting.

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20 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

So Far, So Good

Author: mr-lydian from United States
5 March 2007

I'll go ahead and state that I come from an Irish background, so I was biased toward the show before I watched the pilot. After watching the first two episodes, I'm still on the wagon. It's the first show in a long time that has a perfect blend of plot, characters, and action (I know, most people would say "Lost" has the same blend., but I just think it's so-so--personal opinion).

I'm interested to see how the narrator aspect of the show is going to pan out; I'd assume you can only tell the story in this fashion for so long before it gets old. But, at the beginning, it's very creative and interesting. Here's to (hopefully) the new best show on TV.

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31 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

The show "The Departed" wishes it was

Author: trixie1127 from United States
28 February 2007

Going just by the pilot - excellent! I thought the story'd be off to a bit of a slow, boring start, but it took off like a flare, from the first few shots, never flagging, never letting up. The grittiness of the look, the timing, the pace, the story line, the dialogue -- terrific, just what you'd expect from people who made "Crash." They didn't disappoint. The acting is also very good, except Keith Nobbs, who plays Joey Ice Cream: entirely too much of a clichéd motor-mouthed overacting little weasel. If he's going to continue providing the narration, it can be a detriment to the overall quality, as it was in the pilot, hence I gave it only 9 stars out of 10.

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