July 11, 2009

Review: The Philanthropist

If you make a television show centered around the crazy exploits of one person, but don't give him any special powers other than being rich, then those exploits have to be out of the ordinary but believable. The Philanthropist is not such a show. Despite being given a lenient artistic rein by claiming to have been "inspired" by a real life story rather than truly being one, The Philanthropist manages to destroy the suspension of disbelief too quickly for it to be likable.

This is no fault of the actors. The main character, Teddy Rist (portrayed by James Purefoy) is a well balanced character: he might be a bit too prone towards the emotional too quickly, but overall he is a good character. However, the situations he gets into are not so realistic. Yes, we understand that he is a playboy billionaire, but even playboy billionaires can't really buy their way through Burma and bully their way to see a leader under house arrest in that country. Moreover, his ability to magically break up a sex trafficking ring in the third episode "Paris" borders on the incredible: one of these types of adventures would be hard enough to believe, but an entire series consisting of nothing but amazing feats is neither in the spirit of the real Teddy Rist (who is actually Bobby Sager) nor is it good for sustaining a show.

A good television show about a billionaire philanthropist who goes around the world practicing "eyeball to eyeball" philanthropy should not be hard to make. He doesn't have to save the day on every episode in such a spectacular fashion. Deviating so much from the source inspiration makes this series worse. for a midseason replacement, though, it's the best non-reality TV series this summer.

6/10

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