This show was perhaps more highly anticipated by the network than the audience. Which is to say, there was a lot of talk about it but it seemed to get pushed off or have complications often enough that people were wary.
The Philanthropist has the odd format of always having a sort of narration, which is usually one character telling someone else about what happened in whatever country Teddy tries to save that week. In the first episode we learn that Teddy’s son died, leaving him devastated and with a broken marriage. While in Nigeria there is a flood and he saves a little boy. He comes back looking for this boy to fulfill his promise to make sure the kid gets home. This inspires the string of heroic and usually dangerous acts that Teddy decides he must accomplish at all costs, even if it may hurt his company.
Teddy is an arrogant, wreckless billionaire with a compulsion to fix everyone’s problems while dealing with none of his own. (He also has a tendency to lecture other people about right and wrong.) What I find with the show is it lacks substance. Having a dead son is very sad, but it just isn’t enough. Three out of the first five episodes have been something about children in need that Teddy decides he must save. In another episode it is helpless young girls. Each episode it the same: he finds a cause often related to children, it’s dangerous, there are some problems, it all works out in the end.
Product Placement moment: they look up cholera on Bing.com. (I feel like I’ve heard so much about Bing and yet have no idea what it is, which tells me the advertising needs to be stepped up a notch.)
His friend and business associates are all involved to some degree or other in each of his crazy schemes, yet they are all secondary characters who are more there to say “we believe in you” or “stop being stupid” without much personality or story for themselves. Last week’s episode gave a small story to Teddy’s partner, Philip Maidstone (Jessie L. Martin) who is married to Olivia (Neve Campbell). They are all morally grounded, dependable people.
A couple pluses to the show are the superb cast (though it has not been used to its full potential–Neve Campbell has hardly been onscreen for example) and the strong cinematography. The special effects and scenery are well done, which is always important in action based shows.
According to the ratings, the show has been steadily decreasing in viewers, nearly losing half the audience it had at its premiere. If the show wants to succeed, it needs to become less predictable and more character-driven. With the season half over (there have only been eight episodes ordered for this summer show) it’s hard to say if they will have time to recover.