McMafia Episode 1 – The DVDfever Review – James Norton


McMafia centres around dodgy Russians, the mafia and money laundering, with James Norton (Flatliners), who’s in a pickle as his business is under threat from rumours about dodgy financial investments, and he’s looking for a non-Russian investor to chip in to quell these rumours. Without that, he’s a bit stuffed.

He’s given an offer he can’t refuse (maybe) from a Russian businessman, played by American David Strathairn doing a dodgy Russian accent. His participation will come at a bigger price than he might expect, but it depends how desperate he is.

The financial stuff didn’t feel like it had much of a story outside anything that wasn’t predictable, the McDonalds/Burger King discussion (to explain the title) didn’t have any bearing on anything, and everyone just seems to be going through the acting motions; and Norton plays the Jewish Alex Godman, who comes across as the least likely to have Russian heritage out of so many actors I could think.

McMafia – Series Trailer – BBC One

At times, it felt a bit sub-James Bond, similar to how they did the same with The Night Manager, but then both Tom Hiddleston and James Norton’s names have been mooted as a successor to Daniel Craig.

Given that Norton was in the Flatliners remake, I figured this be better than that. It wasn’t by much. I’ll give this a second episode – which is on tomorrow night at 9pm – to see where it goes, but it’ll have to improve immensely.

Update: Since I saw episode 2, I’ve made a vlog below, where you can hear additional thoughts about the show. Check it out!

McMafia continues tomorrow on BBC1 at 9pm, then each Sunday at 9pm, and is available to pre-order on Blu-ray and DVD, ahead of its release on February 26th. If you missed it, you can watch it on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after transmission, and click on the packshot for the full-size version.

McMafia Rant – Fast & Furious or Dull & Confusing? – DVDfever – panDOMonium

Episode 1 Score: 2/10

Director: James Watkins
Producer: Paul Ritchie
Writers: Hossein Amini and James Watkins

Alex Godman: James Norton
Semiyon Kleiman: David Strathairn
Rebecca Harper: Juliet Rylance
Vadim Kalyagin: Merab Ninidze
Dmitri Godman: Aleksey Serebryakov
Oksana Godman: Maria Shukshina
Katya Godman: Faye Marsay
Boris Godman: David Dencik
Joseph: Oshri Cohen
Benny Chopra: Atul Kale
Femi: Clifford Samuel

Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


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  • Olivia Kirby

    It was dull, but on Twitter you either thought it was dull or you thought anyone who thought it was dull was thick, if you see what I mean…I still think it was dull, and I am happy with slow burners (I watched entire third series of Twin Peaks and loved it)

  • Glad it’s not just me who thought it was dull 🙂 I love a slow-burner, too, but I’ll give it tonight’s episode to see how it goes. I didn’t see Twin Peaks 3 as I haven’t seen the first two series, despite them forever being on my to-do list, but I have seen all five series of The Wire and that was slow at times, but great stuff. And after I saw that, I didn’t realise that Dominic West had an English accent 🙂

  • Olivia Kirby

    I’m impressed you’re giving it another shot after a 2/10 rating! My husband looked mildly disappointed when I said I wasn’t giving it another go tonight. I have never seen The Wire. Until we got Netflix I had been terribly anti American TV but realise now there’s not enough British stuff to keep me going! Funny really as other than Life On Mars/Ashes to Ashes and Line of Duty, all my favourite shows have been American/Canadian.

  • Well, sometimes, a show can take 2 episodes to get a handle on it.

    Netflix – I highly recommend Ozark.

    I loved Life of Mars, but A2A could be reduced down to the opening episode and the last 2 eps. It didn’t need to last more than one series. And I live near Manchester, so around the time Life on Mars was made, I could see that, as Sam Tyler showed, you could spin around 360-degrees and see both the old and new Manchester.

    Line of Duty is great, too, although it does tend to jump the shark a bit in the finales of the last 2 series. Glad it’s got the recognition the writer Jed Mecurio deserves. He also wrote Cardiac Arrest (cancelled after 3 series) and Bodies (2 series and a special), and Bodies won a TV award just after it had been cancelled(!)

  • Dmitrii Sheshnev

    Русским олигархам настолько скучно в Мелкобритании , что они решили снять про себя сериал.

  • Had to use Google Translate, but you’re correct in what you say:

    “Russian oligarchs are so bored in the UK that they decided to make a TV show about themselves.”

  • Dmitrii Sheshnev

    ; )

  • gibbygtnk

    Norton is wrong for rhe role. The genius casting was Danny Dencik as his uncle, but look what they did with that. I will give it another shot to see if episode 2 holds.

  • Let me know if it improves for you.

  • gibbygtnk

    Yes, we are liking it. Although they did pull their punches on the Human Trafficking angle, and the Patriarch of the family is getting to be downright Shakespearean (which could work out ok if the writers are smart enough). Bottom line…I recommend.

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