The Black Donnellys is an American television drama that debuted on NBC on February 26, 2007 and last aired on April 2, 2007. Thereafter, NBC began releasing new episodes weekly on NBC.com until the series was officially canceled. The Black Donnellys was created by Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco. Cast members include Jonathan Tucker, Olivia Wilde, Billy Lush, Tom Guiry and Kirk Acevedo with relative newcomers Michael Stahl-David and Keith Nobbs.
The series follows four young Roman Catholic Irish-American brothers in New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood and their involvement with petty and organized crime. Set in the present day, the show draws heavily upon Irish-American history and iconic themes. The pilot episode illustrates a clear tension and rivalry between the Irish and the Italians. The episodes are narrated by a childhood friend, Joey "Ice Cream", whom the show depicts as an unreliable narrator. In creating the show, Haggis, a native of London, Ontario, strongly referenced his hometown's local history about the real-life Black Donnellys and the massacre associated with their name. In the pilot episode, Joey says that the neighborhood is populated primarily by "Black Irish", whom he calls "a race of dark-haired people" that the Celts had failed to wipe out in Ireland. Hell's Kitchen in the series is also a fairly faithful depiction - a traditionally working class neighborhood with a deeply entrenched ethnic Irish population and an Irish Mob with control over illegal gambling, loansharking, and heavy involvement in the unions. Although set in 2005, Hell's Kitchen is shown to be slowly overtaken by gentrification and development that threatens to displace the Irish population, a fate that Hell's Kitchen actually succumbed to in the early 1990s.
On April 2, 2007, NBC announced that the series would be pulled after the April 16 episode. Two days later, however, the show was dropped from NBC's lineup, presumably because of not enough viewers. It was replaced by the second episode of the US version of "Thank God You're Here" on April 9 and the third episode of the same on April 16. The time slot was then filled by the series The Real Wedding Crashers. It was also announced that unaired episodes would be streamed online on the NBC website, as well as downloads available from iTunes.
On May 14, 2007, the series was officially cancelled by NBC. On June 5, 2007, it was announced that HDNet had acquired the rights from NBC Universal to broadcast all 13 episodes of the series, beginning June 13, 2007. A DVD entitled "The Black Donnellys: The Complete Series" was released on September 4, 2007.
Recently, the show has been picked up and has begun to air in several European countries. Paul Haggis attended and spoke at the Cologne Conference in Germany at which The Black Donnellys was screened.
The cancelled Black Donnellys ranked second in shows streamed off of NBC's website, second only to their already number one show Heroes. Since cancellation, NBC has not made any comments about The Black Donnellys.