The Philanthropist: Review & Discussion

Published 6 years ago by

philanthropist 00 The Philanthropist: Review & Discussion

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.

philanthropist 02 The Philanthropist: Review & Discussion

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

philanthropist 03 The Philanthropist: Review & Discussion

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.

philanthropist 04 The Philanthropist: Review & Discussion

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)

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  1. I want to see this. Purefoy should have been Bond. See the picture above, he can actually convincingly smile, unlike Craig and if you have seen his other work like Rome, he can be as tough as nails as well and charming.

  2. I tuned in because I am a huge Ray Stevenson/Titus Pullo (13!) fan and love James Purefoy from Rome. He did not disappoint. He is charming, and the script was well written emotionally. I did have a problem with how easy it seemed for him to make it through the jungle with no survival skills, but then again, I was willing to forgive seeing as the show on the whole was most enjoyable.

  3. James Purefoy not fight back?? But he was such a badass in Rome!! lol

  4. Thanks for posting something about The Philanthropist…I’ve been eager to read some other opinions…

    I missed the original airing, but thank God for HULU, which has the pilot in case you missed it, too.

    I mostly enjoyed this pilot and am looking forward to seeing more. The first 15 were a little odd, but that actually engaged me. The inaccuracies in representing Nigerians and Nigerian cities was a bit off putting…and the point that I don’t think Nigeria has ever been hit by a hurricane (they come off the west coast and then come batter us on the US east coast). They could have thought of some other disaster or situation quite easily.

    Like I said, I look forward to seeing the following 7 episodes. In fact, it is the ONLY thing (aside from sports and Conan O.) that makes me want to watch traditional TV even a little bit.

  5. Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire)

    Recognised him as Omar from the Wire straight away. He was brilliant in that (still is for me as only on 3rd season)

  6. Crap I wanted to see this I’m disappointed to have missed it. It’s loosely based on a real billionaire that has a philosophy that I suspect most people have he just admits it and they hide it a little be more. That’s mostly just that everyone is selfish. Helping others or just only taking care of your self every action is selfish. You help people because it makes you feel good. You like feeling good so you keep helping others to get that feeling almost like a drug. It’s selfish, but the best kind of selfishness.

  7. I watched it from beginning to end and enjoyed it.

  8. I started watching, but… no. The main character wasn’t funny enough to be funny, and not serious enough to be taken serious. Apart from that, I think the writers have never been to an African country and the whole first sequence was nothing more than a stereotype. It couldn’t grab me.

  9. Google ads are back, this time they’re blocking the picture (somewhat). Just thought you might want to know.

  10. Yes, I survived the first 15 minutes and by the end, I felt richly rewarded, no pun intended. ;) The Philanthropist is..different. It has heart, yet it’s not sappy. And it has potential to grow into something more than the drivel the networks usually toss at us. Purefoy is perfectly cast and it’s a pleasure to see Jesse L. Martin again. The female leads were less impressive, though that may change as the series develops.

  11. I really enjoyed the show, in my opinion it was very good.

  12. I enjoyed the show, as well. I watched it initially because I like James Purfoy and I continued watching because I liked the show. I was also surprised that a pampered billionaire made it through the jungle after being bitten by a snake and then just happened to end up in the same village at the exact right time to see the boy he previously saved. But, hey, its TV, and I’ve been known to enjoy watching shows featuring all sorts of unbelievable premises (vampires; a town where all the residents are geniuses; and countless medical shows in which test results come back the same day)! Anyway, I would love to see this uplifting show survive and fill a slot that would otherwise probably be filled by yet another stupid, mean reality show.

  13. Glad everyone liked it. The 2nd episode was about on par with the first… so you’re in for a treat!

  14. This show is comically bad. I love how these ‘billionaire investors’ need the back story on the countries they have millions of dollars in, as if they wouldn’t know this already. The Myanmar episode treats viewers like ignorant children – and also fails to properly name Myanmar’s deposed democratically elected President, Aung San Suu Kyii. But wait – that’s fictional, right? Never mind that because an American swam to her house in May, she has been denied her release yet again (locked up since the nineties). So in the show, Purefoy shows up, sneaks in to her compound, and has a chat with her. Basically, in reality, you get to add another 10 years to her sentence. He also continues to do business with an affiliate in Myanmar because if he doesn’t, a little girl will die for lack of a kidney. So much for being a philanthropist – investing in a sick and perverted country’s government sure is charitable! It certainly was worth supporting a child labour-using, human rights abusing company to save one life. That’s not philanthropy – its misanthropy. His actions show a remarkable selfishness and contempt for humanity. Folks – take it from somebody who has worked with ‘philanthropic’ NGOs for over a decade – this show is unbelievably stupid. If it succeeds, it will simply be a testament to the contemporary devolution of human intelligence. This show does not remotely depict the way the world works. It is yet another show where gorgeous people dressed to the nines dance through the streets of Lagos without a care, decked out in makeup and thousand dollar suits. It’s Food Aid all over again – a farce which draws attention away from the real systemic problems plaguing this world and focusing it on a select and privileged few. Whoever wrote the scripts for these self-righteous and woefully hypocritical characters should be ashamed of themselves.

  15. Bartacus you missed the entire point of the show. He is suppose to be selfish. The character does things like get a little girl a kidney for selfish reasons.

  16. I think Bartacus also didn’t have the volume up for a lot of the show. Teddy Rist is learning as he goes, and being a billionaire doesn’t really provide him with the training he needs to be a philanthropist. Indeed, I admire the way the show doesn’t suggest that its hero’s actions are flawless. In the Myanmar episode he has this simplistic idea that he can just push a little cash to free a girl’s father. When he gets there his naivete springs him into wanting to free EVERYONE. He’s reduced to walking out of the mind babbling apologies to everyone he can’t save. His reaction is to sever economic ties with the country, but that too is fraught with faulty logic… and to save the girl not only must he maintain economic ties, but he has to sweeten the deal as well.
    I have no doubt that the show is “unbelievably stupid”, what product from hollywood isn’t? On the other hand, I applaud the show for at least trying to make 3rd world philanthropy sexy in at least a somewhat realistic way.

  17. There is quite a cast. I liked his Mark Antony, so whenever I see his I will pause long enough to find out what is going on.

    This show is compelling. Why? Well act ted. Well written. Unusual presentation and narrative. This could be a hit show. But it is a thinker’s show. A feelers show. Like CSI:X or Law and Order it could build an audience, but not the mindless 30 rock types. I am watching a Haitian story wrapped around a dinner party where 4 ounces of rice is being server and the story of a little boy sold by his drugged out father. I can’t stop watching. And more important, I want more.