THE PHILANTHROPIST: The Complete Series DVD Review

     February 2, 2010


The Philanthropist is the story of uber rich CEO Teddy Rist (James Purefoy) left in turmoil after the death of a child and a messy divorce. He discovers that there is a spiritual void left inside of him, and comes to hope that he can fill that void, and heal his soul, by using his bajillions of dollars to help those less fortunate. Based on real life philanthropist Bobby Sager, this show hoped to hook audiences with a mixture of good feelings, hope, and beautiful locations. It didn’t work. The Philanthropist was cancelled last August. The question now is whether or not the DVD is worth your time. Hit the jump to find out.

philanthropist_tv_show_nbc_image_02.jpgThe biggest strength of this show is clearly its main cast. James Purefoy is everything you could ask for in a leading man. He’s charming, good looking, just a little bit Han Solo cockey, and overall likable. Purefoy manages to sell us his aching billionaire so well, that I imagine he’ll get some phone calls when it comes time to pick a new Iron Man.

His main back up comes in the form of Jesse L Martin, who plays Rist’s business partner, Phillip Maidstone. Martin is as likable as always, though he seldom gets to shine in his own right. I was also excited to see Michael Kenneth Williams show up as Rist’s body guard, Dax Vaughn. Cool people will remember Williams as Omar from HBO’s The Wire. He is also underutilized for my taste. Somebody give this man an action franchise already. Neve Campbell rounds out the supporting cast as Maidstone’s wife, and Rist’s ex. Ooooh. Tension. She didn’t do much for me, but then she never does.

The supporting characters are all underdeveloped, but one suspects that they would have been brought more to the forefront if the season had continued.

The other star is the exotic scenery and locale. Each episode whisked us off to some new and exciting city, And it sure is pretty to look at, as are the exotic female locals. Hey, did you know that every doctor who works in a foreign country is a hot young woman? Me neither.

The biggest loser here is the writing. It’s not bad per se, it’s just a bit clunky. The writers seem to still be feeling there way around the characters, and trying to get a handle on telling some complex stories in a short format. Right from the start you can see what the writers are working towards. Rist shows up, throws money around, and finds out it takes more than a checkbook to solve problems. Presumably he would have learned a lot about the way the world actually works, had he been given a chance. The show could have turned into something complex, moving and wonderful. I like to think it would have.

That still leaves us trying to decide if the DVDs are worth your time. Ultimately I’d say… meh. Maybe? The show isn’t brilliant enough to really stand on it’s own as just eight episodes, and even if you like where it is going, it doesn’t get a chance to go there, which just left me frustrated. And there are no extra’s to sweeten the deal.

B- for the show.

D- for the network not giving it enough of a chance.


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