The Philanthropist

Season 1 Episode 1

Nigeria, Part I

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Jun 24, 2009 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
90 votes

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Episode Summary

Nigeria, Part I
A wealthy philanthropist's life is changed when a hurricane hits the Nigerian town he was visiting. During the storm the billionaire rescues a young boy. These events lead him to pursue his new found passion for helping those in need.

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  • Cheesy moments, fake characters, miserable protagonist and bad writing

    When I saw a video of the protagonist saving a child I decided to ignore it because I found the scene far too cheesy. However when I read Lucy Brown from Primeval was supposed to guest star I quickly changed my mind. To feel less guilty I also made up excuses like "The story sounds inspiring" and "Maybe we'll be able to identify to the characters". I was wrong all the way. From the beginning to the very end I couldn't believe how fake, boring and bad some scenes looked like. A black woman he meets in Africa could be Naomi Campbell. His female assistant and the waitress were just designed to appeal the male audience. I enjoyed the candy but it was just misplaced considering the context. The moments he shares with the little boy are pathetic and the acting is even worst. I also hated how the protagonist used his money to buy people, like if they were goods. His monolog with the waitress was terrible, repetitive and even the ending joke wasn't funny. However I have to admit that it got better in the jungle but that darker plot was far too short and to tell the truth its ending puzzled me. I really thought the writers took their viewers for granted, like if we were brainless or something. The last minutes were also painful to watch as cheesy scenes were revealed one after an other.

    So overall the story was disappointing but at least it convinced me that watching the show wouldn't change the world. In fact it could make it worse. I also found the protagonist was miserable and don't know anyone who could relate to him. You don't have to be a selfish and egocentric billionnaire to help others. You need at least a heart and determination. However I have to admit that it could inspire some people to find a purpose to their lives. After all one way to save ourself is to help others. But first things first, let's not waste anymore time with shows like The Philanthropist. Last but not least I actually waited until the very end for Lucy to appear but she didn't. Writing this review I actually found out that she performed in the next episode, Myanmar. But the pilot was so bad that I couldn't take an other second of it. As a last resort I would also like to point out that Neve Campbell's role was anecdotic. An other reason to forget it.moreless
  • I wanted not to like this pilot but I sorta kinda did...

    The reason I liked this pilot was because it was genuinely heartwarming. The bad points include the converation between a female bar tender and the protagonist which serves to introduce the plot. It was predictable and quite frankly lazy writing.

    I was worried that this show would smack of colonalism being as the pilot is set in Nigeria and the main character is white but it wasn't bad all. Teddy, a.k.a the billionaire philanthropist, is geniuenly moved by the plight of a young boy he meets in a flood and is reminded of his own deceased son.

    Teddy's mad dash through the jungle to deliver medicine to Omar's villiage (later revealed to be the boys name) is heartfelt, and I was really happy when he finally made it.

    The other characters in this show are largely forgetable, despite some big names being cast in the roles (including Neve Campbell of Scream fame).

    I'm not sure how this show will play out if Teddy will continue his work in Nigeria or he was be working in a differnent country every episode.

    I will watch the next episode in this series as it was not a bad way to pass the time.

    Oh I should add that I was actually disappointed to discover when reading the closing credits that the pilot was in fact filmed in South Africa and not Nigeria where it is set.moreless
  • Show fails on almost every level.

    It is common knowledge that for a show to be successful you need at least one character that the audience not only relates to, but can get behind, can use as their avatar on message boards and can quote their lines among their inner circles of friends. Seinfeld had Kramer, How I Met Your Mother has Barney, the Philanthropist has.....yeah, nobody. I don't go to the water cooler much but I doubt anybody was standing around the perimeter of it discussing the bartender's "witty" dialogue.

    The show has two accomplished actors in Jesse L. Martin (Law and Order) and Neve Campbell (Scream) who barely get any screen time. They commanded the viewer's attention and seemed genuine in their almost villainous business efforts while the audience got the opportunity to see them, but instead of this being the focal point of the program The Philanthropist opted to have the star Teddy Rist in the same scenario with some African with a gun to his head every other minute.

    Develop a supporting cast because James Purefoy lacks the charisma or jovial nature to maintain viewer interest for even two seconds, let alone an entire episode. Have situations that the viewer can get excited about, maybe throw in a few explosions or special effects to lighten up the screen from the dull-natured acting the star brings. But do something because this show has zero appeal to any demographic.moreless
  • Interesting hook...

    I kind of liked it, and the premise definitely got my attention.

    In this introduction "Teddy Rist" decides to use his power for good and not evil! Now, this COULD be a real groaner except for the performances, which I thought were excellent. Other than Neve Campbell I have never heard of anyone, which is good. It doesn't give me any preconceived notions of what "should be" in their performances. And I enjoyed them all.

    I especially enjoyed James Purfoy, on whom, a lot rests in this mini-series. Not only is he portraying a rich do-gooder, his do-gooding (sorry for the poetic license!) could be a horribly misguided attempt to make up for events or failures in his personal life which include his ex-wife and dead son. But for the most part he keeps it on track and in the realm of believable TV in a performance that spans poignant to wittily humourous.

    I loved the photography and genuine settings and just hope the producers and writers never exploit this avenue, or make it gratuitous.

    TV critics are all over the place with their reviews. I rarely listen to critics because I often think they are either paid lackeys, or they are looking for something that I, as an ordinary viewer could care less about. I care about a good story and this series offers something out of the mold...finally! Too bad...I understand from critics that NBC didn't commit to a full series, or even intend that it MIGHT return full time.

    If a network won't commit on its offerings...should we??....moreless

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Featured Music:

      "International" by Baaba Mall
      "Guero Canelo" by Calexico
      "Interlude-Libation, The Water Ritual" by Bela Fleck
      "Kothbiro" by Ayub Ogaga
      "Dicholo" by Ayub Ogada, Gavyn Wright
      & London Session Orchestra
      "Englishman In New York" by Sting
      "Draman" by Wasis Diop
      "BulaMa Min" by Orchestra Baobab
      "Down Under" by Colin Hay
      "Kalan Niege" by Isas Bagoyoga
      "Bye Bye Baby" by The Donkeys

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Teddy: (voice-over) I'd spent my life watching from a distance. From behind tinted glass. And you know what? I just couldn't do it anymore. So I stepped out.

    • Teddy: (voice-over) You have to understand, I am so not the heroic type. Reckless, yes. Superman? Hardly.

    • Teddy: (voice-over) Happiness. Happiness is the art of living well. And these days, not many people are living well. And the few who are, well, to me, they don't seem very happy. I'm happy, most of the time. Well, to be honest, I have more than my share of demons. And sometimes they chase me, and sometimes I chase them.

  • NOTES (0)