The Philanthropist, NBC's series that's not The Saint, airs its series premiere tonight at 10/9C. So what, you ask. There are a lot of shows that aren't The Saint! That's true, there are. All of them, in fact, except for three (or maybe four if you count the Andrew Clarke pilot). But The Philanthropist especially isn't The Saint... because it almost was. And it nearly is. Confusing? Read this post to learn how a proposed new series of The Saint produced by Homicide's Tom Fontana (along with original TV Saint Roger Moore and his son Geoffrey) and starring Rome's James Purefoy (an excellent choice!) as Simon Templar morphed into The Philanthropist, a less interesting sounding show with a very similar premise. It's a pretty fascinating, if frustrating, tale.
The Variety review calls Purefoy "perfectly cast as wealthy mogul Teddy Rist -- who decides to trot the globe, helping the needy and bedding women -- Purefoy lends breezy charm to this dramatic co-venture." Sounds pretty Saint-like, doesn't it? Unfortunately, the TV spots haven't really looked like it. In fact, I think all of the promos for the show have looked pretty disappointing, to say the least. But The Hollywood Reporter gave it a good review, and Variety is positive, too. Both trades praise Purefoy in particular. The Variety review contains some particularly frustrating wording: "What makes the show tolerable -- as opposed to simply manipulative and preachy -- is that the protagonist doesn't become a saint all at once." Sigh. If only he did become a Saint! Purefoy certainly looks the part in that NBC publicity photo, doesn't he? Just imagine a halo over his head. Ah, what might have been... Sigh.
Supposedly Geoffrey Moore is still developing a new version of The Saint of some sort. It's just too bad it won't have Purefoy. (Presumably.) I can't think of anyone better! Meanwhile, Fontana claims that NBC wanted The Philanthropist to have a more James Bond or Iron Man vibe, and he resisted that. That seems a shame to me. It looks like a series that should have a James Bond/Iron Man vibe! So will it be a rewarding throwback to the single star, single word title ITC adventure series of the Sixties, like The Baron and, of course, The Saint? Or will it be a sappy, manipulative "adult drama?" We'll get the answer tonight!
For more information on The Philanthropist, check out NBC's offical site.