Okay, I'll admit that I'm getting on The Black Donnellys bandwagon a little too late. Three years too late, to be precise. It got cancelled after one season, like all good TV does.* I may or may not have cried.
I only really heard about this show because I'm a huge fan of Jonathan Tucker. I mean, really. The guy is all class. In my quest to watch every single Jonathan Tucker movie ever produced (which, in case you're interested, is going reasonably well), I stumbed across this TV show I'd never even heard whispers about before. The title sounded, to be quite candid, pretty damn lame. But since Jonathan Tucker had put his name to it, I knew this simply could not be the case.**
So I did a little digging, as I am prone to do. (Veronica Mars taught me well.) Apparently this show is part The Sopranos (without that annoying daughter), part The Departed (without Marky Mark), part awesome. Or all awesome, depending on who you talk to. It's about four brothers living in a tought-as-nails New York neighbourhood, dabbling in some serious organised crime. Now, I know you guys don't know me that well, on account of none of us actually meeting or anything, but that shit is right up my alley. I know large chunks of The Departed off by heart, and can recite them in a perfect Boston accent. I love Jonathan Tucker (or Tuck, as I believe he'd let me call him***), who is from Boston. Every single one of my TV hopes and dreams came together, hooked up for one night of tender passionate love in a swanky hotel, and spawned The Black Donnellys. At least, that's what I was assuming.
Oh, and Peter Greene's in it. So it must be awesome, right?
Even before watching it, I campaigned for it not to be cancelled, mainly because I just wanted to keep Tuck employed. Tuck's good people, y'all. I had a 'Save The Black Donnellys' sticker on my school diary, and had to explain almost daily to some clueless classmate what The Black Donnellys actually was.
This December, I said to myself, "Self, it's about damn time you bought yourself a Christmas present," as I quickly pushed all my shopping bags under the bed and out of Self's eyeline. I eBayed the hell out of The Black Donnellys (Self is pretty gullible) and 9 to 13 working days later, I got my 3-disc Black Donnellys DVD box set. And I only paid ten bucks for it. Me and Self were pretty damn pleased with ourselves.
I started the viewing on Monday, hoping to watch one episode a night and spread the joy for thirteen whole days. I finished on Thursday. Personally, I blame Self -- she's always so goddamn impatient.
Now that I think about it, it's pretty stupid writing a Random Review for The Black Donnellys, when I can't even begin to put in words how utterly fantastic it is. It's positively mind-blowing. It's everything good missing from television right now. It's everything good missing from life right now. Some American network bigwig killed it in its prime, and if I've learned anything from this show -- and I assure you, I have -- it's that I must hunt down this bigwig and shoot him, burn him with a cigarette lighter, shave his head, douse him with motor oil, cut off his toes with an axe and stuff his body into an oil barrell with the aid of a sledgehammer. And that's just for starters.
Tommy Donnelly (Tuck) -- he's the second-oldest in a family of four brothers. Despite his late father being heavily into neighbourhood crime, Tommy's spent most of his life out of trouble. But when his brother Jimmy fumbles a kidnapping, Tommy steps up and, in the process, starts a gangland war.
Jimmy Donnelly (Thomas Guiry) -- the oldest Donnelly. Despite walking with a limp after Tommy ran over him with a car in his youth, Jimmy's spent his whole life knee-deep in heroin and petty theft. He's way too impulsive to be taken seriously, and he hates that the neighbourhood mobsters would rather deal with Tommy than with him.
Kevin Donnelly (Billy Lush) -- brother number three. His allegiance swings wildly between Tommy and Jimmy, depending on what mood he's in and who benefits. He's a chronic gambler who never, ever wins, and gets in pretty deep with the bookies...until he decides to become one himself, but that's a whole other story.
Sean Donnelly (Michael Stahl-David) -- the young'un of the family. He's a ladies' man who'll steal any of his brothers' girlfriends away from them. He gets babied something fierce by his brothers and his mother.
Jenny Reilly (Olivia Wilde) -- the girl next door type. She and Tommy are clearly made for each other, but his tendency to occasionally kill mobsters out of necessity and familial pride keeps getting in the way. Damn all that mobster death, too, because they would've made a great couple.
Derek 'Dokey' Farrell (Peter Greene) -- the baddie of the piece. Seeking vengeance after someone murdered his brother (it was Tommy, but shh, keep it on the DL!) Dokey takes over the Irish part of town. Oh, and he's often armed. With an axe.
Nicky Cottero (Kirk Aceveda) -- wannabe head of the Italian crime syndicate. He deliberately started this whole war, which goes pretty much unnoticed by everyone else. He has a right-hand man named Vinnie, and the two share an subtle, but often uncomfortable, bromance.
Joey Ice-Cream (Keith Nobbs) -- the Donnellys' childhood friend. He's narrating the entire series from prison, but he's incredibly unreliable and half of what he's saying is probably false.
Look, you guys. This show rocks. I don't even know how to tell you. It's thirteen episodes of pure, unadulterated badassedness. And immorality. Don't forget the immorality. Here's a couple of examples of Tommy (who's supposed to be the good one, mind you) being a really, really sick-arse bastard:
--After murdering Huey Farrell, his childhood mentor, Tommy sits in the front pew at his funeral with his widow.
--He then hosts Huey's wake at the family bar, the Firecracker Lounge.
--He then goes to Huey's widow's house under the guise of helping her go through Huey's things, and steals a whole heap of money from their house...all because Dokey told him to.
--He then decides to become a mentor to Huey's son by giving him art lessons.
--He then borrows money from the poor damn widow to give to Jenny so she can keep her father's diner.
--Not really worth a dot point, but are we forgetting that Tommy killed Huey? The 'good' brother is doing these things! You can only imagine what the other three are off doing, can't you? I'll give you a clue: it starts with bookkeeping and ends in more murder. Oh, and heroin. And kidnapping. And drug-dealer bashing.
I'm not even kidding -- this show is the juicy double beef patty between two awesome hamburger buns. In fact, the word 'awesome' has lost all its meaning after watching this show. No word in the English dictionary will suffice, so I must turn to A Clockwork Orange for an answer:
Bezoomny. Choodessny. Dobby. No, none of these words will do. Stanley Kubrick, you've failed me yet again! EVEN FROM THE GRAVE, YOU TAUNT ME, SIR! Wait, what about 'horrorshow'? That's actually not a bad one. Horrorshow is quite apt, really. Let's try it out. The Black Donnellys is absolutely, positively, uncomprimisingly horrorshow. Yeah, I like how that sounds. Spread it around: The Black Donnellys = horrorshow.
If you haven't seen it yet...well, you'd better not start now. There's no way it can live up to the hype I've just created for you. Which is...which is actually the opposite effect I was after with this post. I...oh, shit.
Tuck would be so ashamed of me right now.
*My So-Called Life, Freaks and Geeks, Life As We Know It, just to name a few. All this from the medium that allows Flava Flav to produce a show whereby he attempts to find love. AND PEOPLE WATCH THAT SHIT.
**Yes, that is Jonathan Tucker in 100 Girls. I still stand by this statement, though.
***Tuck is my friend on MySpace. And I'm not one of those tweenie-bopper fangirls whose 560 friends are all celebrities. (Or people pretending to be celebrities.) Tuck is my one and only famous friend. He added me, you guys. Tuck actually sat down at his computer and ticked the little box that says, "Yes, I'll allow this admittedly very beautiful young woman to be my friend." You hear that? He called me his friend!****
****I'm not usually like this, I swear.