THE BLACK DONNELLYS: Surprisingly Good

Having recently read Maureen Ryan’s less than glowing review of THE BLACK DONNELLYS my expectations going into NBC’s latest stab at SOPRANOS success couldn’t have been any lower.

Yet as the episode ended (with what’s become the standard, yet massively overused music montage — thank you OC!), I found myself surprisingly compelled to tune into next week’s episode. Sure the show is full of Irish clichés (we get it, the Irish like to drink and brawl) and I don’t know how seriously I can take a group of mobsters that actually come up with the nickname ‘Joey Ice Cream’, but overall I found the story interesting — and more importantly — the four brothers incredibly likable.

Special mention goes out to youngest brother Tommy Donnelly (Jonathan Tucker). Who delivers a fantastic performance as the one brother who has the brains and talent to make a life for himself, if only he could leave his knuckle-head brothers behind. Of course this being television, and the show revolving around four brothers (not three), Tommy isn’t going anywhere. Reiterated by Joey Ice Cream’s final narration of the episode “… and whether he realized it or not… Tommy had just taken over the neighborhood, and it was up to him to protect it.” Well, duh! (Note to writers: give the audience a little credit it. We don’t need the narrator to spoon feed us everything!)

THE BLACK DONNELLYS has been taking a lot of flack this week for not living up to THE SOPRANOS. But is it really fair to continuously compare every mob drama to one of the most ground-breaking and critically acclaimed shows on television? Sure Tommy Donnelly isn’t about to be confused with the likes of Tony Soprano anytime soon — but with three brothers on his side, he deserves the time to at least step up to the ring and compete.

THE BLACK DONNELLYS airs on Monday nights at 10PM on NBC.


Missed the Premiere, you can download it for free from iTunes by clicking here or check it out at

Want to watch those fantastic final few minutes again? Head on over to my friends at BuzzSugar. They’ve got video of the ending, along with a really interesting controversy with regards to an alternative ending that wasn’t aired.

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  • Tonya

    I stopped watching Monday night because it wasn’t catching my interest but I just now watched the ending clips and I think I might give it another try! Both ending versions offered by BzzSugar were really good but the 2nd one is the best. If you haven’t seen taken a look I suggest trying it out.

  • I disagree with BuzzSugar…. I actually like the version that aired better than the Arcade Fire version, but hey, to each his own.

  • Abby

    I agree with you, TV Addict, I found myself enjoying this show even though it felt like maybe I shouldn’t. I must correct you, though, Tommy is definitely not the youngest brother, he’s the second oldest, hence the whole protecting of the family once Jimmy, the oldest, screws up. Anyway, I’m glad I’m not the only one who liked this show!

  • Abby, Thanks for the post, and thanks for the clarification on Jimmy.

  • Kylen

    I just posted a quote from this show in the above thread, not realizing you guys had already dedicated some bandwidth to the subject. It took me 30 minutes to figure how who was who, but once I had it, I loved the show. Its funny, and sweet, and violent… And I love Joey Ice Cream, the terribly unreliable narrator. I feel like we may get an entire episode where the story is told completely incorrectly. Sounds fun and different. And the end? Unbelievable! I hope the show does well, or has a chance to do well.

  • Tim

    Wish they would have stuck with Arcade Fire. The song they ended up going with felt too much like a teen soap song and not a song that fit with the action.

  • I hope this isn’t a spoiler but…

    One question I’ve had since I watched it (and I liked it too, even though I didn’t want to)… did Tommy purposely run over Jimmy’s leg? That look on his face was haunting..

  • Paddy

    The Donnellys pilot is one of the best 45 minutes of television that i’ve ever seen. Utterly brilliant way to start a show and (as big an Arcade Fire fanatic as I am) the Snow Patrol song was better especially wiith the opening line “All this seems sttrange and untrue” in an Irish accent.

    Was a little disappointed with how Series 1 ended but have my fingers crossed for a series 2.

    Series Highlight: Tommy kicking Dokey up and down the street.