Stay Tuned
Reviews, previews and much more on "The Real Housewives," "How I Met Your Mother," "NCIS" and many more of your favorite shows. This is the place to talk about all of the things that make us "Stay Tuned"…

Sunday, February 25, 2007

"The Black Donnellys": Does It Live Up to the Hype?

I said last week in a post about “The O.C.” that pilots are a tricky thing. Sometimes it’s hard to get all of the characters introduced in a way that makes us care about them.

And that’s definitely the problem with the first half of “The Black Donnellys” premiere. I actually had to take notes to keep everybody straight for this review.

The Donnellys are four brothers living in a rough Irish neighborhood. The “Black” comes from their less than legal activities.

Jimmy, the oldest, is the leader of those activities and he’s a junkie. He has a limp from when his leg was run over by a car as a kid. And, he blames himself for his father’s death at the hands of some thugs from the Italian neighborhood.

Kevin has a gambling problem, while Shawn has a lady problem—too many of them. They both stick with Jimmy wherever he goes.

Tommy is an art student who tries to stay out of his brothers’ problems, but always seems to be bailing them out of trouble.

Jenny is the neighborhood girl who has always hung out with the Donnellys, and who has always had a thing for Tommy. Frankie is a friend of the family, who also happens to be a cop.

Their story is told by their friend, Charlie (aka Joey Ice Cream), who is in prison, being interrogated by two cops who want to know “where the bodies are.”

As the show opens, Kevin has gotten himself into some serious gambling debt. When Jimmy’s plan to get the money goes bust, the brothers take more drastic action that causes them to run afoul of Sal, who runs the Italian neighborhood.

Before the hour ends, Tommy is forced to take a more active role to protect his family, much to the chagrin of Jenny, who despite being married, can’t deny her feelings for Tommy.

“Donnellys” has an impressive pedigree, having been created by Academy Award winners Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco, the duo behind “Crash.” But the first half is all flash and no substance as we try to keep the characters straight.

However, the last 15 minutes will totally grab you when a family secret is revealed that explains everything and sets up the rest of the series. And yes, there are bodies aplenty…

If you enjoy gritty, tough drama, you will enjoy “The Black Donnellys.” You just might need a scorecard…

"The Black Donnellys" premieres Monday, February 26th at 10 p.m. on NBC, with an encore Thursday, March 1st at 10 p.m.