‘The Dynasty New England Patriots’

This sprawling 10-parter chronicles the peaks and valleys of the storied NFL franchise.
‘The Dynasty New England Patriots’
(L–R) General Manager Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, and owner Robert Kraft in “The Dynasty New England Patriots.’ (Apple TV+)
Michael Clark

With the 2023–2024 NFL season barely in the rearview mirror, the new Apple TV+ limited docuseries, “The Dynasty New England Patriots” (“Dynasty”) couldn’t have come at a better time.

For dyed-in-the-wool NFL fans, “Dynasty” is by far the best of the three like-minded productions of the last eight months (“Quarterback” and “Kelce” being the others). It will more than delay post-season withdrawal for the next five weeks.

Upon finding out “Dynasty” was 10 episodes and five hours long, my first reaction was “overkill.” While Patriot dominance in the NFL lasted nearly two decades, there’s no way it deserved that much screentime. After watching “Dynasty,” I’m happy to say I was wrong.

General Manager Bill Belichick (L) and quarterback Tom Brady in “The Dynasty New England Patriots.’ (Apple TV+)
General Manager Bill Belichick (L) and quarterback Tom Brady in “The Dynasty New England Patriots.’ (Apple TV+)
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not even close to being a Patriot supporter. I’m a Washington native and have been a loyal Redskins fan my entire life. I respect what the Patriots did from 2000 forward but that also comes with huge asterisks. More on that in a bit.


What I like most about “Dynasty” is that it is as unbiased and even-keeled as a project of this ilk can be. This is due largely because it’s not an NFL Films production (like “Quarterback” and “Kelce”), but that of Imagine Entertainment, helmed by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

Based on the graphics of the documentary’s dozens of interviews, it’s clear they were conducted recently, which indicates they were done with the full cooperation of the Patriots. This is not a fawning, rose-colored-glasses retrospective, but rather a warts-and-all expose.

Directed by Matthew Hamachek (“Tiger”), “Dynasty” was written by Jeff Benedict, based on his 2020 best-selling book of the same name, and covers all of the many highs and lows of New England’s two-decades–long league dominance.

Mr. Hamachek rightfully centers the series on the three men responsible for the team’s unprecedented success: owner Robert Kraft, head coach and general manager Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady.

Bill Belichick in “The Dynasty New England Patriots.’ (Apple TV+)
Bill Belichick in “The Dynasty New England Patriots.’ (Apple TV+)

Who Made Who

For almost the entire length of their partnership, it was debated whether or not Mr. Belichick “made” Mr. Brady or if it was the other way around. From my perspective,  Mr. Brady made Mr. Belichick.

Mr. Belichick’s only previous head coaching stint was for the Cleveland Browns (1991–1995) where he posted a losing record of 36–44. After 18 straight winning seasons that included nine Super Bowl appearances and six wins, Mr. Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and in three seasons amassed a winning record of 32–18, including a Super Bowl win.

After Mr. Brady’s departure, Mr. Belichick’s five final seasons with the Patriots yielded a losing 41–42 record and no playoff wins. Game, set, and match Mr. Brady.

This is not to say Mr. Belichick isn’t a football mastermind. With 302 career wins, Mr. Belichick is third on the all-time list behind Don Shula and George Halas. While no one can deny his professional talent, his ethics, and tendency to shift blame to others in the face of adversity, scandal, or both, is severely off-putting.

(L–R) General Manager Bill Belichick<span style="color: #ff0000;">,</span> quarterback Tom Brady, and owner Robert Kraft in “The Dynasty New England Patriots.’ (Apple TV+)
(L–R) General Manager Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, and owner Robert Kraft in “The Dynasty New England Patriots.’ (Apple TV+)

Two ‘Gates’

In what is arguably the best episode of the series, the first of two major scandals is examined. “Spygate,” as it was coined, involved a Patriot staffer videotaping the defensive coaching signals of the New York Jets during a game in 2007. This obvious method of cheating is stupid, as taking notes is equally as efficient. The fallout: Mr. Belichick was fined $500,000 (the largest single-person fine in league history) and the team $250,000.

When questioned after the fines were levied, and in the docuseries interviews, Mr. Belichick offered up a “so what” dismissal, and only admitted that he was guilty of the “mistake in his misinterpreting of the rules.”

Eight years later came “Deflategate,” when the Patriots were found guilty of deflating game balls during the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. Deflating–letting air out–of game footballs makes them easier to throw and catch, particularly in cold weather.

When questioned, Mr. Belichick claimed no knowledge of the act, and instead told the press to question Mr. Brady, metaphorically “tossing him under the bus.” After the dust settled, the NFL fined the Patriots $1 million, docked the team two selections in the next draft, and suspended Mr. Brady for four games without pay at the start of the 2016 season.

Bill Belichick in “The Dynasty New England Patriots.’ (Apple TV+)
Bill Belichick in “The Dynasty New England Patriots.’ (Apple TV+)


There is one aspect of “Dynasty” that I found particularly unneeded and in bad taste. As was the case with “Quarterback” and “Kelce,” “Dynasty” is littered with hundreds of not-so-mild expletives. While this may be the type of language used in locker rooms and on the sidelines, it’s not something most people want to hear, and it instantly makes it unsuitable for family viewing.

If you were a Patriot hater before watching “Dynasty,” you will remain so, if not more, after it’s over. If you’re a Patriot lover going in, you might love them a little less.

Kudos to Mr. Hamachek, Mr. Benedict, and Imagine for not presenting a glorified video love letter to a team that achieved a level of performance never seen in the NFL, but also a team that did so with sometimes underhanded methods and out-of-control, unchecked hubris.

TV poster for “The Dynasty New England Patriots.’ (Apple TV+)
TV poster for “The Dynasty New England Patriots.’ (Apple TV+)
The first two episodes of the series begin streaming on Apple TV+ on February 16, 2024.
‘The Dynasty New England Patriots’ Documentary Director: Matthew Hamachek Running Time: 5 hours, 18 minutes Release Date: Feb. 16, 2024 Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 
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Originally from Washington, D.C., Michael Clark has provided film content to over 30 print and online media outlets. He co-founded the Atlanta Film Critics Circle in 2017 and is a weekly contributor to the Shannon Burke Show on FloridaManRadio.com. Since 1995, Mr. Clark has written over 4,000 movie reviews and film-related articles. He favors dark comedy, thrillers, and documentaries.
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