The Black Donnellys

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This article is about the 2007 NBC Television Program. For the notorious Canadian Donnelly Family, see Black Donnellys.
The Black Donnellys
The Black Donnellys - intro.jpg
Created by Paul Haggis
Robert Moresco
Developed by Scott Corwon
Paul Haggis
Starring Jonathan Tucker
Thomas Guiry
Olivia Wilde
Billy Lush
Michael Stahl-David
Kirk Acevedo
Keith Nobbs
Kate Mulgrew
Peter Greene
Michael Rispoli
Kevin Conway
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13 (7 aired online) (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Paul Haggis
Robert Moresco
Running time 46 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Picture format 480i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
Original run February 26  – April 2, 2007 (2007-04-02)
External links
Website

The Black Donnellys is an American television drama that debuted on NBC on February 26, 2007, and last aired on April 2, 2007. Thereafter, NBC began releasing new episodes weekly on NBC.com until the series was officially canceled. The Black Donnellys was created by Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco. Cast members include Jonathan Tucker, Olivia Wilde, Billy Lush, Tom Guiry and Kirk Acevedo with relative newcomers Michael Stahl-David and Keith Nobbs.

The series follows four young Roman Catholic Irish-American brothers in New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood and their involvement with petty and organized crime.[1] Set in the present day, the show draws heavily upon Irish-American history and iconic themes. The pilot episode illustrates a clear tension and rivalry between the Irish and the Italians. The episodes are narrated by a childhood friend, Joey "Ice Cream", whom the show depicts as an unreliable narrator. In creating the show, Haggis, a native of London, Ontario, strongly referenced his hometown's local history about the real-life Black Donnellys and the massacre associated with their name. In the pilot episode, Joey says that the neighborhood is populated primarily by "Black Irish", whom he calls "a race of dark-haired people" that the Celts had failed to wipe out in Ireland. Hell's Kitchen in the series is also a fairly faithful depiction - a traditionally working-class neighborhood with a deeply entrenched ethnic Irish population and an Irish Mob with control over illegal gambling, loansharking, and heavy involvement in the unions. Although set in 2005, Hell's Kitchen is shown to be slowly overtaken by gentrification and development that threatens to displace the Irish population, a fate that Hell's Kitchen actually succumbed to in the early 1990s.

On April 2, 2007, NBC announced that the series would be pulled after the April 16 episode.[2] Two days later, however, the show was dropped from NBC's lineup, presumably because of not enough viewers.[3] It was replaced by the second episode of the US version of "Thank God You're Here" on April 9 and the third episode of the same on April 16. The time slot was then filled by the series The Real Wedding Crashers. It was also announced that unaired episodes would be streamed online on the NBC website, as well as downloads available from iTunes.

On May 14, 2007, the series was officially cancelled by NBC.[4] On June 5, 2007, it was announced that HDNet had acquired the rights from NBC Universal to broadcast all 13 episodes of the series, beginning June 13, 2007.[5] A DVD entitled "The Black Donnellys: The Complete Series" was released on September 4, 2007.

Recently,[when?] the show has been picked up and has begun to air in several European countries. Paul Haggis attended and spoke at the Cologne Conference in Germany at which The Black Donnellys was screened.[6]

The cancelled Black Donnellys ranked second in shows streamed off of NBC's website, second only to their already number one show Heroes. Since cancellation, NBC has not made any comments about The Black Donnellys.[7]

Characters[edit]

James "Jimmy" Donnelly (Tom Guiry) - The oldest of 4 brothers, Jimmy is a troublemaker and drug user, who is often involved in criminal activity, and known for making stupid decisions. When he was young, his leg was injured in a car accident in which a runaway car sped down the road and crushed his leg. (Jimmy does not know who was driving the car; only Joey Ice Cream and Tommy know that it was actually little Tommy.) He walks with a permanent limp from the accident. Jimmy believes he should be the leader of the Donnelly brothers but his constant temper flare ups cause people to believe him incapable of leadership, so they follow Tommy. This constant battle for being in charge causes friction between the two brothers throughout the season.

Thomas "Tommy" Donnelly (Jonathan Tucker) - Tommy is the second oldest brother in the Donnelly family. He is known to step up as the leader of the four brothers and often cleans up his brothers' troublemaking messes. His caretaking nature stems from an incident in childhood when he ran over his brother Jimmy's leg after stealing a car. He promised God that if Jimmy walked again, he, Tommy, would take care of him thereafter. Tommy wants to become an artist, and has been going to art school. Huey Farrell, the deceased boss of the Irish mafia, had been paying for his tuition. When Huey dies, the money is revoked by Huey’s brother Dokey Farrell, who suspects Tommy of killing his brother. Tommy is in love with Jenny Reilly, a childhood friend with whom he has a complicated and strained relationship. He struggles between taking care of his family and doing what he wants.

Kevin Donnelly (Billy Lush) - The second youngest of the Donnelly brothers. Kevin is a gambler whose gut instincts are extremely lucky. The problem is, he never follows his gut. He doubts every bet that he makes, therefore losing every bet. He has only won one bet his entire life: The day before his father died, he asked Kevin to pick a horse to bet on in a horse race. The horse won, and as it was the last thing his father did with him, it caused Kevin to believe he is lucky. His gambling debt to Louie Downtown is what had created the chain of events that lead to the season finale. He is often caught in between helping Tommy and Jimmy. He is very loyal to his brothers, and is much more of a follower than a leader.

Sean "Seanny" Donnelly (Michael Stahl-David) - He is the youngest of the brothers and is noted for his popularity with women. In the season premiere, Sean is severely beaten by Nicky Cottero as a reaction to the kidnapping of Louie Downtown by Jimmy. Sean would like to help his brothers with "business", but they try to keep him out of the loop to keep him safe.

Kate Mulgrew as Helen Donnelly.

Samson Dawlish (James Badge Dale) - A suitor of Jenny's who becomes obsessed. He works for a delivery service that serves Reilly's diner, and makes a point of delivering extra food for Jenny free of charge.

Robert "Bobby" Donnelly (John Bolger) - Bobby is the Donnelly brothers' deceased father. He and Huey were the bosses of the Irish neighborhood when the Donnelly brothers were kids, though Bobby was the head of the union local, a position that earned significant respect for himself and his family.

Helen Donnelly (Kate Mulgrew) - Helen is the Donnelly brothers' widowed mother. She watches out the most for young Sean, but she fiercely defends all her sons, and turns a blind eye to their acts of revenge. While the boys feel she needs protecting, she gives hints of being much more capable and streetwise than they would ever guess.

Joey "Ice Cream" (Keith Nobbs) - Joey is the jailhouse narrator and a lifelong friend of the brothers. He is typically willing to help them out in their times of need. Something of a Scheherezade figure, he is a classic example of an unreliable narrator, revising his story frequently when called on iffy details.

Jenny Reilly (Olivia Wilde) - Childhood friends with Tommy and rest of the Donnelly boys, Jenny runs a local diner with her father. She and Tommy have a complicated and strained relationship.

Nicky Cottero (Kirk Acevedo) - Italian gangster currently attempting to take over the area formerly controlled by his mentor, Sal. Befriends the Donnellys to try to take down both Dokey and Alo.

Derek Timothy "Dokey" Farrell (Peter Greene) - Irish gangster that controls his deceased older brother's turf. He gained the nickname Dokey from growing up and being reportedly "The King of the Hokey Pokey" = "Hokey-Pokey Dokey". He is known for carrying an axe and chopping off people's toes. He wants more than anything to gain the prestige and respect his brother had, but has trouble putting up with the aggression of the Italians and the wayward ways of the Donnellys.

Hugh William "Huey" Farrell (Chris Bauer) - Irish gangster who formerly controlled the Irish neighborhood. Was killed in the pilot episode.

Louie Downtown (Joe D'Onofrio) - A low level bookie who doesn't mean anything to anyone, except that he's the nephew of the Italian mob boss Sal Minetta. Is kidnapped by Jimmy, Kevin, and Sean because Kevin owes him money. They hold Louie for ransom to the Italians. However, the Italians find out that the Donnelly brothers are behind the kidnapping. Nicky Cottero jumps Sean as a reaction, making Jimmy shoot Louie.

Joanie (Betsy Beutler) - Joanie is Jimmy's drug addicted girlfriend. She seems to want a better life for her and Jimmy but frequently backslides. She cheats on Jimmy with Whitey. When Jimmy finds out he kills Whitey.

Nadine (Jamie Bonelli) - Nadine is Sean's love interest. She met Sean while selling him and Jimmy a jukebox for The Firecracker. She is helping Sean study for his GED.

Terrance "Whitey" Waylon (Kevin Corrigan) - Bob the Mouth's nephew and Jimmy's business partner. Jimmy stabs him to death when he finds out that he has been sleeping with Joanie, and out of fear that he may have given up information to the police or Dokey.

Robert "Bob the Mouth" Kelly (Peter Gerety) - a neighborhood bookie who is the uncle of Terrance "Whitey" Waylon. He frequently "solves" his problems with a grill iron. Jimmy owes him money through Whitey.

Councilman Jack Trevor - the neighborhood's representative in the New York City Council. He is originally from the neighborhood and was cozy with Huey and Bobby Donnellys back in the day. He helped orchestrate the real-estate scheme between Sal and Huey. Is having an affair with his chief of staff, Trish Hughes.

Detective Frank Stein - NYPD Precinct detective at the 28th Precinct. He arrests Jimmy for armed robbery in the pilot episode, and is tasked with the Huey-Sal homicide case in the following episode. Unlike his fellow detective, Det. Geckel, he is not on Dokey's payroll, and it is implied he has been trying to build a case against the Irish Mob for a long time.

Cast[edit]

Main cast[edit]

Recurring[edit]

Episode list and ratings[edit]

Weekly rankings based on Fast National ratings.[8][9][10]

# Episode Air date Rating Share 18–49 Viewers Rank
1 "Pilot" February 26, 2007 5.5 9 3.5 7.93 # 50
2 "A Stone of the Heart" March 5, 2007 4.5 8 3.0 6.88 # 53
3 "God Is a Comedian" March 5, 2007 Online only episode †
4 "The World Will Break Your Heart" March 12, 2007 4.4 7 2.6 6.53 # 55
5 "Lies" March 19, 2007 3.9 6 2.4 5.53 # 68
6 "Run Like Hell" March 26, 2007 3.9 7 2.3 5.43 # 69
7 "The Only Thing Sure" April 2, 2007 3.7 6 2.0 5.3 # 71
8 "In Each One a Savior" April 9, 2007 The last six episodes were
only released online
in the US due
to declining ratings.
9 "All of Us Are in the Gutter" April 15, 2007 – 8:00 PM ET
10 "When The Door Opens" April 22, 2007 – 8:00 PM ET
11 "Wasn't That Enough?" April 30, 2007
12 "The Black Drop" May 7, 2007
13 "Easy Is the Way" May 14, 2007

God Is a Comedian Playing to an Audience Afraid to Laugh was only available online due to network concerns over content.

Key: Rating is the estimated percentage of all TVs tuned to the show, share is the percentage of all TVs in use that are tuned in. Viewers is the estimated number of actual people watching, in millions, while ranking is the approximate ranking of the show against all prime-time TV shows for the week (Monday through the following Sunday).

The pilot episode, while averaging 8.42 million viewers, had a large drop off in its second half. The first half hour was watched by 10 million viewers but that number dropped to 6 million in the second half hour.[11] The overall average was later revised down to 7.93 million viewers.

DVD release[edit]

Title Region 1 Region 2 Ep # Additional information
The Complete Series September 4, 2007 January 28, 2008 13 Deleted Scenes, 6 Unaired Episodes.

International broadcasters[edit]

Country TV Network(s) Series Premiere Weekly Schedule
 United States NBC February 26, 2007 Mondays, 10pm
 Canada Global Television Network February 26, 2007 Sundays, 10pm
Mondays, 10pm
 Finland Canal+, Sub September 2, 2007 Mondays, 11pm
 Germany TNT Serie September 5, 2007 Wednesdays, 8.15pm
 Ireland RTÉ Two August 14, 2007 Tuesdays, 11.20pm
 United Kingdom ITV2 (part of XXL Thursday) September 27, 2007 Thursdays, 11pm
(originally 9pm)
 Spain Canal+, Calle 13 and MTV Spain October 11, 2007 Thursdays, 9.30pm
 Mexico AXN November 5, 2007 Mondays, 8.00pm
 Argentina AXN November 6, 2007 Tuesday, 8.00pm
 Brazil AXN November 6, 2007 Tuesday, 9.00pm
 Peru AXN November 6, 2007 Tuesday, 8.00pm
 Thailand Star World 2007 Sundays, 9pm (THAI/WIB)
 Slovenia POP TV January 2, 2008 Wednesday, 10.45pm
 Australia Showcase May 21, 2008 Wednesday, 9.30pm
 Portugal Fox Crime
TVI
May, 2008 Wednesdays
 Sweden Kanal 5 June 1, 2008 Sunday, 9.55pm
 Chile MEGA June 23, 2008 Monday, 01.30am
 Italy Italia1 September 8, 2008 Sunday, 0.35am
 Russia The Star October 13, 2008 Monday-Thursday, 10.40pm
 India Star World November 2008
 New Zealand C4 December 29, 2008 Monday, 8.30pm
 Hungary TV2 (Hungary), Viasat6 January 7, 2009 Wednesdays, after 11.00pm
 Belgium Canvas March 23, 2009 Mondays, 11.45pm
 Belgium La Deux May 2010 Sundays, 8.30pm
 Netherlands RTL 7 April 10, 2009 Fridays, 9.25pm
 Croatia Nova TV November 5, 2009 Monday-Thursday, 01.20am
 Greece Alter Channel April 2010 Saturday-Sunday, 03.00am

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Black Donnellys". 
  2. ^ The Black Donnellys: NBC Puts a Hit on the Drama, TV Series Finale, April 3, 2007
  3. ^ Donnellys Dropped ASAP, TV Guide, April 4, 2007
  4. ^ KNBC.com "NBC To Announce Fall Schedule Of Shows"
  5. ^ "The Black Donnellys Are Back! Series to Premiere June 13 On HDNet". Hd.net. 2007-06-05. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  6. ^ "Cologne Conference to focus on best TV content". Hollywoodreporter.com. 2007-09-21. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  7. ^ "Data Reveals Online Having Profound Shifts on TV Viewing, Navigation Too". Publications.mediapost.com. 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  8. ^ Zap2It Ratings: Rating and Share.
  9. ^ Calendar Live Ratings: Viewers and Rankings.
  10. ^ 18–49 numbers, Media Life magazine
  11. ^ Pilot Ratings on TV Squad

External links[edit]