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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Some thoughts on The Black Donnellys

I just finished watching last night's The Black Donnellys with my breakfast (coffee & last night's homemade bread as toast with blueberry jam -- beats the shit out of storebought bread!) and in a second I'll have to jet.

But a couple words on the Donnellys. This is your dose of Irish drama that's been missing on the tube for a while. Trouble is, there are a few things that irk me. The omnipresent narrator, Joey Ice Cream, who is inexplicably being interrogated by cops and tells all these stories of how the hood came to be, yada yada, back in the day, yada yada.

As I learned in English, there's always the "unreliable narrator" -- the one you can't trust because of whatever's going on in their head (ie: Poe's Tell-tale Heart) or in this case, the narrator who knows everything when they weren't even there.

It's hard to swallow. So, that's a pretty major sticking point. The trouble with having trouble with THAT is, it's great narration. Informative, low-key, fills the holes as it should, and imparts another level of flavour to the story. Nonetheless, all its perks don't necessarily negate the overwhelming negative: How does the narrator know, if everything came to happen on the down-low?

THAT said... it's a pretty good show. It DOES have a lot of potential. I see it setting the scene for something crafty, smart, and duplicitous. I see it as potentially maturing into a Sopranos-meets-The Wire (season 2) story about a crime family. The birth of something wrong yet great, in some words.

Me, I love my violent shows, and since they stole Studio 60 from me, I would like to tune in and see where Paul Haggis is really going with this story. (Dude who helped bring us Million Dollar Baby. Talk about writers with a headful of reality, eh?)

But the trouble with the troubles I have with all that? Well, I dunno that the American public's buying. Word on the ratings is, last week's premiere lost about 40% of its viewers from half-hour one to half-hour two. That's the kiss of death. Also, it debuted lower than the initial premiere of Studio 60. Not a good thing for the studio.

Some surprisingly good stuff got the axe last year when the public proved not smart enough to get it, like Ray Liotta's Smith. I foresee this show as going in the tanker, it's more of a HBO show. And unlike something like the Wire, network execs wanna see results and FAST. The Wire took 4 hours to even set the story. This one's going on two, and we're barely out of the track.

So, anyhow. Here's hoping people catch on and this one lives long enough to crack its story nut far enough open to get a real glimpse of where it's going. It's smart, despite its ridiculous narration choices, and the cheesy retrospective looks back at wishes and dreams of the past interspersed throughout the story. Whatever. Still, it's a horse to watch, and with many shows nearing their seasonal end, that's not such a bad thing.