By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García
Scenes from a Roundtable Conversation
Mahsino (before watching the show):Am i the only one troubled by the new NBC show the Philanthropist? I’m seeing a lot of “white guy saves defenseless colored folks” in the promos.
maybe it’s just the Heroes announcer that’s making me suspicious, maybe I’m just itching’ to snark on something …
Andrea (via email, in respose to Mahsino): it’s everything you saw in the promos and more …
Oh, how right they are.
“Based on” the work of real-life billionaire Bobby Sager, The Philanthropist might have had good intentions behind it, but as the series head into its’ third week, it instead veers horribly south of honoring Sager’s endeavors — if you didn’t know the guy, this show would make him look like a self-involved, almost pitiable nitwit.
The show’s titular do-gooder, Teddy Rist (an over-his-head James Purefoy), we keep getting reminded, is almost a bigger victim than the people he decides he wants to help – in the first two episodes, POCs. Sager’s bio doesn’t spell out when his own commitment to charitable work began, but in Teddy’s case, the flashpoint comes when, while being evacuated from a flood in Nigeria, he rescues an abandoned boy and flashes back to his own son, who has been dead for nearly a year.
This is all well and good as a starting point for Teddy as a character. But he’s written so schizophrenically you can’t take him seriously. As he spends the first episode retelling the plot to a skeptical female bartender, all we’re shown supports Teddy’s rep as “reckless” and “a playboy,” going so far as to sleep with a Nigerian doctor (Bonnie Henna) after he delivers medical supplies – on foot, while evading angry rebels and suffering from a friggin’ snakebite – to a village near the one destroyed in the flood. I’m tempted to call the Sager Foundation and do some fact-checking: So, did Mr. Sager ever hook up with a Nigerian doctor under a resplendent sky? Partake of an orgy with call girls supplied by a local drug dealer? … Hello? Hello?