After being bounced from the History Channel back in January, things looked bleak for the Joel Surnow executive produced-miniseries. But after being turned down by a number of other channels and needing a sponsor, The Kennedys, starring Greg Kinnear, Katie Holmes and Tom Wilkerson, finally premiers tonight on the little known ReelzChannel. Now that we know it will finally make it onto television screens, the questions become whether it was worth all the controversy and if it's any good.
Well, the first reviews are in, and they're less than stellar. Here are highlights from a handful of them:
The Boston Globe's Joanna Weiss writes that the miniseries tells us nothing we didn't already know about the Kennedys: "Having seen it, I can assure the Kennedys that they have nothing to worry about. Partly, that’s because the series is astonishingly bland, a CliffsNotes history lesson for people who know the history already."
The New York Times's David Itzkoff feels that the show will reignite debate over accuracy and creative license in historical dramas:
In chronicling the presidency of John F. Kennedy, it compresses time, consolidates characters and invents dialogue for moments never recorded by history’s pen.It also dwells on the sexual appetites of the Kennedy men, the use of prescription drugs by the president and his wife, and Joseph P. Kennedy’s interactions with the Mafia, in ways that, depending on your point of view, expose the flaws of historical figures or besmirch the legacy of an American hero.
The A.V. Club's Noel Murray writes that the show is a throwback to old soap opera-y miniseries of yore. And those tuning in hoping to see an all-out disaster will be disappointed, because while the show isn't by any means good, it's not that bad: "But let’s face it: the main reason most in-the-know folks will want to watch The Kennedys is to see how much of a train wreck it is. And I’m afraid on that score, people will be largely disappointed."