The Black Donnellys, “God is a Comedian Playing to an Audience Afraid to Laugh” (1.02.5)

Billy Lush as Kevin Donnelly and Kate Mulgrew as Helen Donnelly.

A review of the web-only third episode of a One Season Wonder we’ve looked at twice before, written by Robert Moresco & Jeff F. King and directed by Dan Lerner, after the jump…

Previously on The Black Donnellys: We got introduced to the Donnelly family in the “Pilot”, then the show abandoned all pretense of lightness for “A Stone of the Heart”. Part of me hopes “God is a Comedian” will reverse that trend, but considering it was pulled from broadcast for content concerns, I won’t hold my breath.

Pro: This episode did not have the same problem from “A Stone of the Heart” of ridiculously bad musical choices destroying dramatic moments.

Con: Not only was this episode relentlessly grim, it was a rehashing of the same themes from the first two episodes. Tommy will do his best to be a good person, but will be dragged back into crime and sin because he constantly wants to save his family. Not only is this exhausting, but the show and Jonathan Tucker‘s performance are so relentlessly grim that I find myself unable to emotionally connect with this character. He’s just so one-note, even when interacting with the one person who should bring out his lighter side, love of his life Jenny.

The one bright spot in this episode was the plot that probably held the most prominence, and actually contained a bit of new emotional ground: Kevin Donnelly, dumb and naive with the best of intentions, moves heaven and earth to get Jimmy out of jail against Tommy’s wishes – only for Tommy’s predictions that Jimmy will go right back to drugs to be proven right almost immediately. The show flirted with a bit of fun having Kevin work with Joey Ice Cream on a badly-thought-out plan to sell a plumber a bunch of stolen carpentry supplies, which was a nice change, and Kevin had a good (if entirely predictable) arc.

I find myself wanting to like this show, and its characters, a lot more than I do. Its lack of tonal elasticity, the general sense of doom, and the parade of a thousand minor characters I will never care about (including Kirk Acevedo‘s mobster, no matter how much fun he’s having in the role) are all dragging it down. This is a show about family, but I’d like it a lot more if I got any sort of sense of what they’re fighting for. The pilot did a good job, but that’s being buried under layer after layer of bad news. I’m hoping the show offers something new and compelling in the remainder of its one short season, as already I’m having trouble seeing the long-term viability of the show.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: