The Philanthropist, starring James Purefoy (HBO’s Rome, A Knight’s Tale, Resident Evil) as Teddy Rist, started off by confusing me a bit but by the end of the episode, I found the story to have a compelling emotional element that kept me tuned in.

The show opens in the middle of a chase scene where Rist is being fired upon by some locals while on a river bank, barefoot in a jungle somewhere.  We then jump to a bar scene where he’s chatting with a young lady while she’s bar tending and he explains in a backtrack sort of fashion how he came to being shot at on this riverbank.

They use this venue of Rist talking with the bartender to recant a quick history of how he got to this point of time.

Up front, the opening scene flashing back to the previous scene, while all of this was a recanting in real time tripped me up at first.

The first 15 minutes was used in this fashion to develop the entire history of our main character, Teddy Rist.  Rist is a billionaire yet he has a huge emotional void in his life from the tragic death of his son. A business trip to Nigeria changes him when he rescues a small child from drowning.  This deed teaches him that he can find happiness from helping others and his philanthropy efforts are sparked by this little boy.

At Risk Of Losing Me

The show started out by overloading the viewer with a lot of detail about Rist.  This background info was interwoven with events as they unfolded in the episode.  At first, Rist’s actions seemed empty but the story development became tangible when the reasons behind his actions became apparent.

There is a unique aspect to the show that left me wanting a little more.  I like my heroes to be able to defend themselves and fight back if the need arises. Despite getting shot at and beat up on occasion, Rist never fought back.  He takes the punishment but he comes up with a way out of the scenario.  It also helps to be stupid rich to be able to offer up things people need.

The show is a low-keyed type of thinking man’s adventure that presents a a refreshing new angle in a scripted drama, but that might also be its downfall.  If there’s no action to spark some mindless engagement, we’re only left with the emotional fulfillment of Rist’s present mission.  Is that enough to keep a show afloat?

Ratings And Supporting Cast

The Philanthropist followed America’s Got Talent which had over 10 million viewers.  This lead-in gave the show its initial boost but by the end of the hour, viewership had dropped 17% and the show tied with a repeat of CSI:NY on CBS with just over 7 million viewers still tuned in.

The rest of the ensemble that makes up the cast of The Philanthropist is Neve Campbell (Party of Five) Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order), Lindy Booth (Cry Wolf, Wrong Turn, The 4400) and Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire).  The show is executive produced by Peter Horton (Thirtysomething, Grey’s Anatomy).


Aside from myself, did anyone else catch the premiere of this show?  If you did, we were wondering what you thought of it and if you survived the first 15 minutes?

Source:  Hollywood Insider (Ratings)