Brothers & Sisters – Season 2, Episode 2 – An American Family

October 8, 2007

Another good episode chock full of the humour, bickering and family drama we’ve come to expect from the Walkers.
Most of the show revolved around Nora, Kitty and Kevin’s road trip to pick up Justin who is back from Iraq but injured.  Along the way they call into a conservative call-in show saying all kinds of things including calling George Washington gay.  This puts McAllister into spin control to defend his future in-laws.  Meanwhile Justin is back but badly injured and unfortunately clean and sober which makes what is going to be a long recovery even more painful.

The rest of the episode introduced a new character, one of Rebecca’s friends, who gets a job working for Tommy.  It also closes the door on the Sarah-Joe storyline when he reveals he’s back together with his ex-wife and the silence you hear from me is expressing how little I care.  Especially, with the recent announcement of the great Steven Weber joining the show as Sarah’s new love interest.  Definitely a trade-up.  Rebecca also told Sarah her part in the kiss with Joe and although it doesn’t go over so well with Sarah, this late in the game as a viewer it seems like they’re just wrapping up loose ends even though I’d long forgotten it.

Overall, a decent episode with lots of what makes the show great but it seemed more like a transition episode than anything else.

Avi’s Episode Rating: B

Brothers & Sisters – Season 2, Episode 1 – Home Front

October 1, 2007

As anyone who follows TV news knows, this show hit last season looking like a disaster in the making.  Replaced actors, reshot pilots, replaced producers and just generally bad buzz.  I tried anyway but found the first few episodes kind of boring and was pretty close to dropping it.  Then Greg Berlanti took over and the show became the ultimate family drama.  The characters became real people, the dialogue snappy, the storylines compelling, humourous, heart warming and heart breaking – sometimes all at the same time.  Adding the great Rob Lowe didn’t hurt either.

So the show enters the second season with an Emmy for Sally Field and following one of the finest season finales of last season with reasonably high expectations from me and I’m happy to say the show exceeded them.

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Brothers & Sisters – Getting Better All the Time

February 12, 2007

Let me first start by saying I haven’t seen last night’s episode but that doesn’t change what I’m going to say or actually link to.  I’ve been meaning to write a review of this show but every week I find something better to say about another show.  This week I’m going to take the easy way out and link to Alan Sepinwall’s column on the show since I agree pretty much with everything he says. 

After seeing the first few episodes of the series I had one reaction – like the cast (except Kitty), the rest kind of bores me.    Maybe it’s that I love Tom Skerrit and was disappointed that they got rid of him in the first episode.  Maybe it’s that there wasn’t much of a story to pull me in. 

Then, as Alan writes, along came Greg Berlanti from one of my favourite shows of all time, Everwood, and in the last half dozen episodes he’s made Brothers & Sisters a show I really enjoy watching.  No one can manage a family story like he does and he’s even made Kitty less annoying for me.  The episode where they go to the cabin and the one with Nora’s birthday both were stellar shows equally balancing humour, family drama and actual stories. 

I don’t think it’s every going to be an Everwood which seemed a little smaller and more real than Brothers & Sisters.  Still different is okay and maybe with Emily Van Camp joining the cast as Rebecca in addition to the recent addition of the amazing Rob Lowe, the show will continue to get better each week as it has since the series started. 

Avi’s Show Rating: B+

Best of TV 2006 – Best New Show

December 20, 2006

Here are my nominees for the Best New Show of 2006.  Remember the nominees are my picks based on my favourite shows of the year, hence the omission of Ugly Betty which despite it getting lots of love from critics is likely going to make my worst of list.  Also, the show must have actually be on for the full season so ones that have been cancelled are ineligible.

Now on with the nominees:

  • 30 Rock (NBC)
  • Brothers & Sisters (ABC)
  • Friday Night Lights (NBC)
  • Heroes (NBC)
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC)

30 Rock is one of those shows that has grown on me as the season has progressed.  I watched the first couple of episodes and found them okay but not great.  But all of a sudden something started to click with me in particular the brilliance of Alec Baldwin, the over the top a little goes a long way Tracey Morgan and the sarcasticly hysterical Tina Fey.  Throw in Dean Winters as Tina Fey’s girl friend and we’re nearing perfection.  Now that it’s been added to probably the best Thursday night comedy lineup ever it’s drawing power is compounded.  Only place it loses marks is the annoying Jane Krakowski.

Brothers & Sisters started off horribly.  I liked the cast generally (especially the amazing Sally Field) but just found that after the first few weeks I really didn’t care about their stories.  Then something changed and his name is Greg Berlanti fresh off the fantastic and still missed Everwood.  He took over and suddenly the show seemed to have some soul as the relationships between the characters started to matter and their interactions took centre stage.  Still, as much as I’ve come to enjoy the series when I watch, I don’t particularly miss it between episodes.

I’ve written multiple times about my love for Friday Night Lights.  I can tell you right now that this show will be on my best of the year list.  It’s as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking often in the same episode.  Kyle Chandler’s performance is dynamic and understated and I need to highlight the actor playing Jason Street as truly the best find of the year.

Heroes is also a shoo in for my best of the year list.   I’m a comic book geek so I came into this show with high expectations that were greatly exceeded.  11 weeks in and the originally separated and unbelievably interesting characters (with Hiro as the breakout) are starting to intertwine around interesting mysteries (Save the Cheerleader, Are you on the List) with weekly cliffhangers that leave you anxious for the next episode.  This show is going to be a huge hit on DVD and will likely result in many viewing marathons.  After this year’s lackluster and meandering Lost season, this show has become the must see serialized drama.  I can’t believe it’s another month until it starts again.

I’ve put Studio 60 on the list because I think it still holds promise.  Still, it’s my disappointment of the year.  I loved the pilot but the episodes since haven’t lived up to the premise.  There have been many moments of brilliance and the few episodes before the break (since the John Goodman episodes) have started to pick up steam.  I still detest the Harriet character and the show’s preachy approach to religion that seems to be a talking point in every episode.  (Contrast this heavy handed approach with the intelligent integration of religion as a backdrop in Friday Night Lights.)  As I write this I need to acknowledge that maybe this show shouldn’t be on my list.  If I had time to watch Dexter perhaps this show would have been replaced with what I hear is a great program.

And the winner is:

  • Heroes (NBC) with Friday Night Lights being a close runner up.

Brothers & Sisters – Season 1, Episode 7

November 7, 2006

My first few reviews of this show were pretty ambivalent. On the one hand I thought the show had a generally good cast but on the other I thought the characters they played were kind of boring and the conflict in the story seemed forced. The last few episodes, this show has turned around completely. I guess Greg Berlanti’s influence took a while to kick in. No one can write family drama like him.
This episode was the best of the show’s run to date. The entire Walker family (and their significant others) ended up at the family ranch to say goodbye to a place that was at the heart of their childhood. In addition to some reminicing about the good times spent there and the influential Tucker Booth, there was lots of new drama to be discussed over a pretty unique (though typical for the Walkers) family dinner. It was hard not to smile at the way Tommy’s sterility came to light, how every family member had an opinion and how the resolution to the sperm doner plot line not only gave life to the characters but also really solidified the relationships between them. Throw Rob Lowe into the mix in a few weeks and I think we have a winner.

Avi’s Episode Rating: A-

TV News & Stories from the Web – November 2

November 3, 2006

Here are some interesting TV stories from the Web:

  • Dexter has been renewed – As I’ve mentioned before, I liked the book it’s based on and even though I still haven’t watched it yet it’s recorded and in my viewing queue.
  • Rob Lowe joins Brothers & Sisters – This show is growing on me and it could be the perfect fit for Rob Lowe who hasn’t been able to take on a leading role since leaving the West Wing. He was great in that strong ensemble cast and he should be again.
  • Kidnapped is now Cancelled – After reducing the order and moving it to Saturdays this great show is going to be burned off on the Web. To add insult to injury NBC’s going to stick the worst of the Law & Orders, CI in its place.

Fall Season 2006 – How it’s Going So Far

October 30, 2006

In September I launched this blog looking ahead to a season that was ripe with promise.  Lots of new, interesting and diverse shows that catered to the TV snob in me who hates procedurals with their “fill in the blank” of the week premises and favours complex serial shows that require a weekly committment.

So here we are 6 weeks into the new season and it’s been a bit of a mixed bag using this moment as a checkpoint. 

Let’s start with the Good.  Two of my favourite shows on the air right now started this season – Heroes and Friday Night Lights.  Unfortunately at this time only Heroes has been given a full season while Friday Night Lights struggles.  Hopefully the order for extra scripts means NBC is going to give it a chance to grow.  Brothers & Sisters is also starting to grow on me after a pretty rocky start.  If you are not watching any of these shows, please start now, especially Friday Night Lights.

I’m going to give honorable mention to Jericho and The Nine, the first of which has been given a full season and the latter which also has a script order.  I like both shows but there’s something about each that keeps them off my “must see” list.  For Jericho, I love the premise and the mysteries beneath the show but dislike Skeet in the lead and the “crisis of the week that only Skeet can fix” is wearing thin.  The Nine is kind of the opposite.  It has an excellent cast but the premise and mysteries don’t seem like enough to sustain an entire season let alone a long running show. 

Now the Bad which I’m going to split into 2 categories, shows that I hoped would be good and aren’t living up to my expectations and shows that were good but got cancelled early.

For shows I hoped for better from, there is no better example than Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip which I picked as my best of the year after seeing the pilot.  It turns out that it’s all been downhill from there.  Check some of my other posts to see why this is my biggest disappointment of the year.  I’m still watching but this one is on life support with me.  I also hoped Vanished and Six Degrees would have been better shows than they turned out to be.  I’m still giving Vanished another chance after the World Series but Six Degrees got dropped long ago. 

As for shows that I liked but got cancelled before getting a real chance to succeed, Smith and Kidnapped were both in my Good list.  Smith got unjustly cancelled after 3 airings (check out this posting for comments from lots of angry viewers) and Kidnapped got sent to Saturday night to finish off its 13 episode run.  Thinking about it a bit more, I’m going to move Kidnapped to the Good category and look at the show as a mini-series since it will actually have an ending and it’s a great show.  Pick it up on DVD next year, you won’t be sorry.

Now for the Really Bad.  In this category is Ugly Betty and The Class.  Ugly Betty lasted 1 episode with me and I have no idea what the critics who love this show saw in it that I didn’t.  The Class lasted two episodes but I knew after the first that it was off my list.  Neither of these shows have anything redeeming about them.  Check out some of my earlier posts on these shows to see what I disliked. 

So where does this leave me 6 weeks into the new season – with 3 shows that I love, 3 I like a lot, a couple I hope will get better before December and some that were either awful from the get go or just didn’t appeal to me at all. 

All in all a season that started with lots of promise but turned out to be the same as all the others.  Bring on the mid-season replacements.