The Kennedys was brought to TV by ReelzChannel; Reelz secured the $25 million production for $7 million after THC (The History Channel ) and other networks turned it down. We don’t know what they were thinking but rumors suggest that some Kennedy family members were not so keen on this personal-angle miniseries.
The Kennedys revolves around four principal players: Joe, Jack, Bobby and Jackie. Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. is the lens through which the story is told but Jack Kennedy is its focus. Other than the family, the set and the attention to detail star right along with the cast. And what a cast: Greg Kinnear (JFK), Tom Wilkinson (Joe Sr.), Barry Pepper (Bobby) and Katie Holmes as Jackie.
Barry Pepper wears more than just a wig to create an impeccable Bobby–he wore false teeth and a prosthetic nose. He also listened to his voice for hours on end to get it just right. But was it too much? I’ve seen better Bobbys.
The first two hours tell in flashbacks pivotal events from the past: from Jack’s insistence that Joe pull strings to get him into the Navy because he would never pass the physical to Jackie’s engagement, and the marriage of the future First Couple. It includes a bit about Ambassador Kennedy whom President Roosevelt appointed to St. James Court (England). Joe lost the post after giving a speech in which he supported Hitler, telling the audience to take him at his word. Jack’s first shaky speeches up to the presidential election are also explored. Although Joe is the architect, Bobby is the engine that would get his brother eventually elected.
There have been multiple retellings of the Kennedy drama and you might ask what’s the purpose of this one? According to the series’ creators they want to tell the story from a personal angle rather than a mere political one. That stance breeds controversy and drama, and makes for a good watch. However, so far I am a little underwhelmed by the production.
The Kennedy family’s true story ranks up there with a medieval French royal family: The Valois/Medici. Catherine de Medici (queen of France) had Nostradamus to warn her that all her children would die young and bloody but for the Kennedys there was no one to warn Rose. And in tonight’s premiere we learn that not even Joe tells his wife that Jack is lost at sea. Instead he buries it beneath an impervious veneer no one can penetrate.
The uneven emotional connections, sense of drama, history and purpose are never quite re-enacted by the principal actors. That’s a problem. Sunday was just the beginning it has six more hours to make the case for yet another Kennedy reselling.