'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.
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.