Reviews: The Philanthropist

the-philanthropistAmerican reviews are in for the new NBC drama, The Philanthropist, a series starring (another) British actor James Purefoy. This is a series which Seven was said to have acquired the rights to in 2008, although it only his US screens last week.

Purefoy plays billionaire Teddy Rist whose life changes when he rescues a boy during a hurricane in Nigeria. Its executive producers include Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana (Oz, Homicide: Life on the Street, St. Elsewhere), and the premiere was directed by Peter Horton, onetime heartthrob of the too, too wonderful thirtysomething.

Neve Campbell also appears in the series.

The premise is supposedly inspired by real life events which happened to Bobby Sager.

The reviews are pretty positive…pity about the name. Maybe Seven could slate it opposite The Mentalist just to confuse us all.

Variety said:
British actor James Purefoy has had several shots at conquering the New World, and whatever “The Philanthropist’s” fortunes, this international co-production cements his status as someone who seems destined to clear those ramparts. Perfectly cast as wealthy mogul Teddy Rist — who decides to trot the globe, helping the needy and bedding women — Purefoy lends breezy charm to this dramatic co-venture, which fields a topnotch ensemble while initially giving them little to do. Unearthing a Nielsen payday should be challenging, but the show’s a cut above most of the disposable summer filler the networks have offered thus far.

Hollywood Reporter said:
Philanthropist’s”role in today’s anti-big business zeitgeist already has been questioned; it was bought for NBC pre-WGA strike. But creators Charlie Corwin, Tom Fontana and Jim Juvonen take this high-concept premise (with real-life roots) and lend it layers of thought and intrigue. Amid the flashbacks, jump cuts and focus shifts, a stylish and gritty story emerges. Star James Purefoy might be yet another Brit rogue on Yank soil, but his awakening is heartfelt and believable; you want him to be Superman. The fact that his greatest successes come not from an open checkbook but his willingness to barter his possessions is a pointed twist on true riches.

LA Times said:
Obviously someone with a lot of money, a more or less direct line to the White House and a willingness to work with criminals can get things done other people cannot. But for all its good intentions the show suffers from an kind of spiritual neo-colonialism — a condition it acknowledges but can’t dispel: “This is about you playing the role of the charming rich businessman who travels the world getting his hands just dirty enough to go back home to tell his American friends how meaningful his life is compared to theirs,” says a Nigerian doctor (who, like every other female character here, is also a hot babe).

NY Daily News said:
The performances here are good, right down to a cynical – and beautiful – bartender to whom Teddy tells the whole tale. But the action often feels like it was created by video-game developers, and what is supposed to be the subtext, about Teddy really trying to save himself, is about as subtle as a kick in the groin from a sneering DEA agent. It’s probably debatable how many legs this idea had as a series in the first place. If it’s going to go anywhere, which is a long shot, it needs to grow some new ones fast.


  1. Matthew See

    Burt – “The idea for this show (that looks like a modern version of The Saint)”

    Actually James Purefoy had been cast to play The Saint in a new series but he changed his mind when he accepted the role of The Philantropist.

  2. The idea for this show (that looks like a modern version of The Saint), came from Sting (the singer) and his wife and is based on a real life US philanthropist Bobby Sager. It helps to have positive reviews, but anytime a show films in numerous overseas locations like this show does, the costs go way up and it has to deliver in high ratings terms. If this were to get a 2nd season, which is very doubtful if it doesn’t deliver, it’ll always be a 10 – 13 episode series.

  3. James Purefoy really stood out in Rome as a terrific actor, especially in the second season. That alone would make me watch anything he’s in, but this show does sound like something i’d check out regardless so hopefully win win!
    When i say i’d check it out because James Purefoy is in it, for clarification i’m a straight male, and purely because he’s a really good actor.

  4. this show is in an odd position. even if it rates it’s keep it will still likely not return as a casulaty of jay leno on NBC. so these 8 episodes might be it. The numbers it got for the 1st ep were quite ok.

    as for 7 i think it will be a good summer show because it is only 8 episodes and should fit perfectly between the end of ratings and the Aus open. and in the US it is a summer filler as well.

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