Mark and Donnie Wahlberg watch older brother Paul, mom Alma...

Mark and Donnie Wahlberg watch older brother Paul, mom Alma and their old “entourage” run the family burger spot in their Boston neighborhood. "Wahlburgers" premieres at 10:30 p.m Jan. 22 on A&E. Credit: A&E

THE SHOW "Wahlburgers"

WHEN | WHERE Wednesday night at 10:30 on A&E

WHAT IT'S ABOUT The original Walhburgers at 19 Shipyard Dr. in Hingham, Mass. makes a mean burger but -- of greater interest to TV viewers -- is run by Paul Walhberg, who is the older brother of Donnie and Mark. This new reality series follows Paul as he begins to explore building Walhburgers into a chain, with locations around Boston, and eventually the world. But the brother needs help and he gets it from his family.

Both Mark and Donnie arrive to offer advice on location, while their mother, Alma, who has her own restaurant to run, offers plenty of advice, too. Mark, recently on "Live with Kelly & Michael," said he had a falling out with his mom -- but there's no evidence of that here as all the sons vie for her favor.

MY SAY The pitch meeting for this newcomer must have been the fastest in TV history, reduced -- as it were -- to a mere two syllables scrawled on the proverbial cocktail napkin: "Wahl" and "berg." Sold! At least A&E was.

Viewers might be another story. Carefully edited to convey the sense that spontaneity is just the way one of Hollywood's power families rolls, no one else will be rolled: "Wahlburgers" is essentially a 42-minute-long commercial for Wahlburgers, and the Walhbergs, stuffed with other commercials (those usual ones that interrupt a show), all adding up to an hourlong commercial. Even the Kardashians couldn't score a deal like this, so chalk this up as another shrewd move by a shrewd industry player (Mark -- who else?).

While "Wahlburgers" might work as a commercial -- and the burgers do look good -- it doesn't even remotely work as an unscripted series. There's no drama, no trumped-up conflict, no insights, no revelations and absolutely no discreet view of a once-notorious Dorchester clan that ran wild in the streets but now drives them, coolly surveying their kingdom for another restaurant location. The fabulously fatuous haze of phoniness does disperse when Alma comes on camera: She's charismatic and charming, and offers up a portrait of someone who missed her calling -- as yet another Wahlberg movie or TV star.

BOTTOM LINE Dullburgers.


Top Stories

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months