Ask not what your cable programmer can do for you; ask what you can do with your remote control

'The Kennedys', a new mini-series on ReelZChannel, is to cable programming what the Bay of Pigs  was to JFK's administration: an unmitigated disaster.Kennedy cigar bay of pigs

While it may provide a momentary ratings hiccup for the totally anonymous network, the series itself is abysmal. The plot's predictable, sophomoric and hackneyed. The acting is stilted and the sets are positively amateurish. Indeed, the fabled Hyannis Port Compound looks more like the dilapidated bungalow from 'Jersey Shore'. I half expected to see Snooki leap into Jack's arms.

ReelZChannel rolled the dice with The Kennedys after The History Channel exercised its pocket veto and wisely decided to pass on the poorly-told tale.

I understand the logic behind ReelZChannel's move. They hoped, like AMC did with 'Mad Men', to catch lightning in a bottle with The Kennedys and leapfrog into the A level of cable programmers. That decision may qualify as a profile in courage, but it makes as much sense as JFK's alleged dalliance with Mafia moll Judith Campbell in the early 1960s.

Mad Men was an original drama with a first class ensemble of actors who beautifully captured a bygone era. The Kennedys, on the other hand, is a hastily pulled together mish mash of well-known family stories mixed in with salacious gossip (and endless commercial interruptions).

Family patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy is portrayed by the grossly over-exposed Tom Wilkinson (who seems to be Britain's answer to Dustin Hoffman and Robert DeNiro; once distinguished actors who continue to prostitute their craft with highly-paid gigs in terribly scripted movies).

Greg Kinnear plays Mr. President and does, in fact, look a lot like Jack. But, he can't pull off JFK's gravitas or charisma. And, Katie Holmes is Jackie Kennedy. I think that speaks for itself.

The ReelZChannel took a major image and reputation risk that, I believe, will end badly. I think the me-too network will enjoy a temporary buzz and then sink permanently beneath the waves.

And, so my fellow Repman readers, ask not what your cable programmer can do for you. Ask what you can do with your remote control. And, if you happen to land on a ReelZChannel replay of The Kennedys anytime soon I suggest you, er, ah, channel surf faster than an ICBM headed for er, ah, Cuba.

UPDATE: Apparently, SNL shares my opinion.

6 thoughts on “Ask not what your cable programmer can do for you; ask what you can do with your remote control

  1. Fair enough, Julie. Let’s agree to disagree. As a student of what Jackie Kennedy always called ‘Camelot’, I found the series troubling and predictable. It perpetrated half-truths and mis-truths to sensationalize a story that needs no hype. Sadly, with the main characters long gone, there’s no one to speak out against the ersatz content. And, Katie Holmes is, er, ah, no Jackie.

  2. RepMan – I couldn’t disagree with you more. I am actually enjoying The Kennedys miniseries and even set my DVR so I don’t miss any of it.
    I think the acting is first-rate. Wilkinson, while overexposed, is very convincing as Joe Kennedy, as is Greg Kinnear as JFK and Barry Pepper as RFK. And I have a new-found respect for Katie Holmes. I never thought much of her prior to this role, but I think she really nailed the part of Jackie.
    I am a “Mad Men” fanatic and enjoy this period of history. I think The Kennedys gives younger viewers an opportunity to see that “Camelot” wasn’t happy nor glamorous.
    I found the whole Bay of Pigs scenes fascinating, especially when juxtaposed with how foreign policy decisions are made today. I can’t imagine any President nowadays going on national TV to take responsibility for a disastrous decision.
    And yes, I will agree with you that the storyline seems like a soap opera. But it was more of a Greek tragedy.
    Now that I know the ReelZ channel exists, I am likely to watch more of their programming. So kudos to them for having the guts to air this miniseries while the so-called History Channel keeps airing reruns of “Ice Road Truckers.”

  3. ReelZchannel is channel 161 on Comcast, Goose. Not sure where it’s located on Cablevision, etc. Suffice it to say it’s hard to find.

  4. I’ve never even HEARD of ReelZchannel…any idea what channel that is?
    and katie holmes as jacki O ? PLEASE she is one of the worst actors EVER- chris must be pleased that his favorite channel decided not to air this monstrosity of a show
    looks like ReelZchannel is DUH LOSING!!!!!