Monday, February 26, 2007

Black (Donnellys) And Blue (Bruises)

Parental unit update: latest series of tests seemed to rule out that's a good thing. Next set of tests will try and determine what did in fact cause blackout and seizures. Downside is any seizure at all means no driving a vehicle for at least 6 months...that will need some planning and figuring out. At any rate, other than bruises continuing to mysteriously appear and a few short spells of disorientation, health is definitely improving. Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and best wishes...very thoughtful.

But nevertheless, a stressful weekend. I needed a distraction...

And found it in 'The Black Donnellys' premiere tonight...New York's Hell's Kitchen...four tight Irish American brothers...gritty dramatic television a la Showtime's 'Brotherhood'....DMc either had an hour long woody or was cursing at his tv set: "...that's my life you're trashing, Haggis!"

But seriously...fav tv critic Aaron Barnhart digs it so it must be good, and it is...but in a 'not really mainstream primetime major network series' kinda way. Which means, I dunno...I don't really see it lasting, so let's enjoy it while we can. But note to NBC, I know you were looking for the big lead in from 'Heroes', but these two shows don't jive together at all. Pair Donnellys up with one of the Law & Order's (SVU?) because I see a lot of the Heroes crowd turning off.

So other than wondering if the 'narrator' was a series convention or just a pilot device to introduce us to the world and characters (as in, I'm not sure if I'd like it to continue), it was a good solid hour of tv. Kudo's to Paul Haggis and company. And speaking of Haggis, Barnhart concludes his review by pointing out:

Paul Haggis, by the way, is Canadian, which may explain why he wrote the only live-action prime time program ever to air in the United States about a Mountie ("Due South").Well, turns out there's a Canadian connection here, too, however tangential: The show's title, "The Black Donnellys," is a reference to some sort of notorious event that every Canadian apparently knows by heart. Unfortunately, the information at makes the case sound horribly complicated — like the two-line rule in hockey — so I'll leave it at that.

Does every Canadian know this story by heart? I mean, I'd heard about it (though not sure where or when), but it wasn't like some bedtime story we all got told. And isn't the two-line rule in hockey caput now? Barnhart!! "shakes fist" Ah well...


CAROLINE said...

Glad the news sounds more positive re: your parental unit. Will keep thinking good thoughts. Take care of yourself in all this, too.

Glad you liked the Donnelly boys as much as I did :-)

Diane Kristine said...

I'd never heard of the other black Donnellys until I heard about them in relation to this show. But I grew up in Alberta and we like to pretend Ontario doesn't exist.

Glad things are a bit better - take care of yourself while you're taking care of your parents.

Juniper said...

Heroes fan AND loved the Black Donnelly's.... good-bye CSI, hello Tommy and bros.

I've never heard of this Canadiana story but I'll follow your link and find out.

And I'm liking "The Ruins" by Scott Smith.... drawn into it right away.

Kelly J. Compeau said...

I was forced -- do you hear me? FORCED -- to study and memorize the entire saga of the ill-fated Black Donnellys in high school. I was not the least bit interested and fought with my teacher every day to give me an alternate course of study (Poe? Shakespeare? Tennessee Williams, for God's sake?). He refused...I handed in half-finished tests and questionaires filled with snarky answers (Question: What was the incident that launched the bloody feud? Answer: If you don't know, I aint tell you.)

I nearly failed grade 10 English.


Robert Hogan said...

The Donnellys figure into the Biddulph feud that took place Ontario in the waning of the 1800s. The feud actually started in Ireland centuries before when Oliver Cromwell tried to force the inhabitants of the then conquered Ireland to convert from Catholicism to Protestantism. This resulted in the formation of what is known as the Whiteboys, Irish Catholics who held fast to strict Catholic code and fought against the Protestant Orangemen who were charged with converting the population and driving out the Catholics who refused to convert. Those Irish Catholics who refused to adhere to the strict Whiteboy beliefs where called Blackfeet, and were treated as a lower class by the Whiteboys. The Donnelly family were Blackfeet, which is how they became known as the Black Donnellys. When the Irish started to settle in Ontario the feud carried over into Biddulph Township with the Irish who emigrated.

The Whiteboys in Biddulph formed the Biddulph Peace Society to uphold the strict rules of the Whiteboy code. The Donnelly family, especially their patriarch James Donnelly, brazenly ignored the code. Some say that this was one of the motivating causes of the Donnelly family massacre. One morning, members of the Biddulph Peace Society converged on the Donnelly home and killed James, his wife Johannah their son Tom and niece Bridget. After setting the house on fire, they moved on to the home of James’s William where they killed another son, John.

In a nut shell, that’s the story of the Black Donnellys.

Anonymous said...

Yes, sort of like the Hatfield and McCoys but all one feuding family through generations... the books were almost required reading when I was young