A pretty entertaining show that works even though it's premise is well worn.
The Black Donnellys: The Complete Series gives fans all 13 episodes of a show that doesn't seem like it was on the right network. The show focuses on the Donnelly Bros., there's Kevin, Jimmy, Tommy and Sean. Aside from Tommy, the other brothers are all pretty bad and sadly Tommy ends up getting his card punched to join their exclusive clique. Living by the creed of "family first," things get dicey really quick as money, power and other forms of corruption end up pitting this family against one another. However, what makes this show rise above being a johnny-come-lately to The Departed is the fact that the writing and characterizations manage to keep things fresh.
Opening with the "Pilot" episode we are introduced to the four Donnelly Bros. and we get a handle on just what their story is. The fact people think they may have killed a "mob connected" bookie isn't making their lives any easier. The next episode "A Stone of Heart" carries on this story line with Tommy and Kevin making a decision from which there is no respite. "All Of Us Are In The Gutter" sees Tommy trying to make a new start for himself by getting a job in an art gallery. However, he soon realizes that getting away from his family isn't going to be as easy as he thought. "Easy Is the Way" has Tommy and Jimmy butting heads over how their family should be run. As you can guess, the consequences are anything but pretty.
Overall, Executive Producer Paul Haggis has a lot to be happy about even if it doesn't seem like NBC understood his vision for this show.
Titled "God Is A Comedian," the only note I made while I was watching this well produced deleted scene was: "This is it?" I don't know what I was expecting, or what I wanted, or anything of that nature, I just know that I wish this set had come with more extras. This scene plays a little disparately and to be honest I wondered why it found it's way onto this 3 disc set when virtually nothing else did. If you liked this show you should definitely check this out as it won't take up much of your time at all.
Anamorphic Widescreen - 1.78:1. This show looked really sharp on my player. I watched it on my usual 13 inch set up and I was really impressed with the colors. There's a lot of blues, blacks and grays and everything subtly blends together to make this show work. I also noticed a nice contrast between the interior and exterior shots. A lot of the outside shots were overcast while the inside shots were somewhat dimly lit. It wasn't always like this but that seemed to be the color scheme they were going for. The compositions for the shots themselves were pretty traditional, and to be honest that was actually a welcome relief.
English Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitled in English. I was able to hear everything fine. The audio was pretty strong and I don't think I had to turn my set up any more than halfway. They used Irish music but it seemed to be tempered a bit. It didn't sound contemporary but it really didn't sound like it was from the past either. The characters spoke in level tones and all of this played really nicely here. With 9+ hours of content it seems like they did a solid job bringing The Black Donnellys: The Complete Series to DVD.
Looking like an emo band the cast of The Black Donnellys roup image on this slipcase cover. The back of this cover gives us another shot of the brothers that doesn't make them look any less like an emo band. They offer up a tiny description of what this show is about as well as some technical specs. All three discs are stored in one piece of artwork that contains more "band" photos of this cast, as well as episode listings and descriptions. All in all, Universal has made this a pretty economical piece of packaging.
Could the name of this show have been the reason for why it didn't catch fire with viewers? Might people have been tired of The Departed by this point, and merely seen what this show was offering as a tired retread? I personally don't feel that The Black Donnellys was aping other material. Yes, the story of Irish mobsters in New York is really nothing new, but getting to see it from such a youthful angle really was. Also, this show managed to keep things relevant without calling attention to the fact that that is what it was doing. I always appreciate when something feels real without the creative people behind the scenes calling telling me how something should feel to me. While I wouldn't go out of my way and call this show gritty or even groundbreaking, it was solid enough that it certainly deserves to have an audience.
So, if you missed it during its normal television run you can now check out The Black Donnellys: The Complete Series in all its glory.