×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘The Making Of the Mob: New York’

With:
Narrator: Ray Liotta

Stephen David Entertainment is certainly having its moment, but it’s one motivated more by economics than creativity — or history. The company has mastered producing a form of docu-hybrid that mixes heavily produced historical reenactments with expert commentary — not a TV movie, exactly, but enough of one to not scare off the documentary-phobic. The latest example: “The Making of the Mob: New York,” an eight-part series for AMC, which will merely remind fans of quality drama how much they miss “Boardwalk Empire.” Many of the names are the same, but everything else about this production screams of an excuse to trot out mob movie reruns.

Narrated by Ray Liotta (whose breakthrough role in “Goodfellas” will be the first movie the channel pairs with the program), “Making of the Mob” begins in 1905 and proceeds through decades of mob history. As with David’s “The World Wars” and another eight-part series currently airing on National Geographic Channel, “American Genius,” actors play out scenes that portray actual historical figures, here involving the likes of Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, but the dialogue is generally muted underneath the narration and a positively abusive musical score, which never approximates anything less than a swelling crescendo.

Much as they did in “World Wars” and “The Men Who Built America,” the producers add a pandering quality to their panoply of talking heads, augmenting the requisite historians with luminaries from other fields. In “Making of the Mob,” that means enlisting the likes of New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, singer Frankie Valli and actors who have played mobsters in movies — among them Chazz Palminteri and Joe Mantegna, and Drea de Matteo and Vincent Pastore of “The Sopranos.” Because, seriously, why muck up a historical discussion by turning to more than a couple of people with an academic degree in it, especially if they’re not immediately recognizable?

There’s no mystery why networks have been drawn to this formula, which approximates drama at a relative fraction of the cost, and benefits from a kind of shorthand among those who have seen actual movies, or (gasp) documentaries, related to the subject matter. Even that rationale, though, hardly justifies the dumbing down associated with the process, which might have yielded reasonable returns — hence the popularity of the format — but exhibits minimal respect for the audience.

A lot of notorious names are shown doing bad things during “The Making of the Mob,” but sitting through the first few hours, it’s that stoop-to-conquer mentality, more than anything else, that really seems criminal.

Popular on Variety

TV Review: 'The Making Of the Mob: New York'

(Series; AMC, Mon. June 15, 10 p.m.)

Production: Produced by Stephen David Entertainment and distributed by Entertainment One.

Crew: Executive producer, Stephen David; co-executive producers, Tim W. Kelly, Shirley Escott; director, John Ealer; production designer, Ernesto Soto. 60 MIN.

Cast: Narrator: Ray Liotta

More TV

  • The Plague Season 2 Spanish TV

    Telefonica, Atresmedia to Create Content Factory Behemoth

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — In a game-changing move for Spanish-language production Telefonica, Europe’s third biggest telco, and Atresmedia, the original co-creators of “La Casa de Papel,” are uniting to create a new joint contents production giant. Aimed at gaining more scale and uniting talent relations – writers, directors and producers – the 50/50 joint venture will [...]

  • Media Company Formed Through Merger Given

    KKR-Backed German Media Conglomerate Takes the Name Leonine

    The KKR-backed German media company formed through the merger of Tele München Group, Universum Film, i&u TV, and Wiedemann & Berg Film has been given the name Leonine, it was revealed Friday. Fred Kogel, CEO of Leonine, said: “When choosing the new brand as our company name, the following aspects were decisive for us: it [...]

  • PERFECT LIFE

    San Sebastian: Leticia Dolera on Canneseries Winner ‘Perfect Life’

    SAN SEBASTIAN —  “La Casa de Papel” (“Money Heist”) may be the most seen of Spanish series this year. Leticia Dolera’s still-to-bow “Perfect Life,” however, is the most laureled, sweeping at April’s 2nd Canneseries TV festival both best series and best special performance for its female leads, Dolera herself, Celia Freijeiro and Aixa Villagrán, from [...]

  • Screen writer Beau WillimonMary Queen of

    Beau Willimon Re-Elected as President of Writers Guild of America East

    Beau Willimon, the playwright and showrunner who launched Netflix’s “House of Cards,” has been re-elected without opposition to a two-year term as president of the Writers Guild of America East. Willimon also ran unopposed in 2017 to succeed Michael Winship. Kathy McGee was elected to the vice president slot over Phil Pilato. Secretary-treasurer Bob Schneider [...]

  • Dickinson First Look Teaser

    TV News: Apple Drops New 'Dickinson' Trailer With Hailee Steinfeld (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Apple TV Plus’ “Dickinson” series released a new trailer and Netflix released the trailer for the fifth season of “Peaky Blinders.” DATES The “Cash Cab” revival will come to Bravo on Oct. 7. The game show takes place inside a New York cab, where unsuspecting passengers become contestants in a game of [...]

  • Jennie Snyder Urman, Katie Wech Team

    Jennie Snyder Urman, Katie Wech Team for Medical Drama in Development at CBS

    CBS is developing a medical drama that hails from writer Katie Wech, Variety has learned. Currently titled “Good Sam,” the series follows a talented yet stifled surgeon who embraces her leadership role after her renowned and pompous boss falls into a coma. When he awakens and wants to resume surgery, however, it falls to her to [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content