Monday, October 01, 2007

"Tequila solves everything.": Brothers and Sisters

There was a time when I could never bring myself to watch this show. I would let them pile up in the TiVo and watch them all at once, inevitably ending up disappointed that I didn't have more episodes to watch. Things have obviously changed since, in SDD's fall TV draft, David and I nearly came to blows over who got to review Brothers & Sisters this year. While this happened for a variety of reasons, I think one of the most important was that we could both sense that Brothers & Sisters was on the verge of becoming something a lot bigger than it was last year. Indeed, Sally Field's surprise Emmy win shocked few here at SDD, who expect big things to come with this show.

Sunday's premiere entitled, "Home Front" examined the ongoing travails of the family Walker a summer after we last saw them. The episode is bookmarked by two video letters, one from Nora, one from Rebecca, to still deployed Justin. In addition to taking place months later, the episode also features Kitty's birthday, which means that it's been a year since Father Walker took his final, fateful plunge.

Since I'm still not used to dealing with such elaborately casted shows, let me just recap where everyone is at when we rejoin the action at the Walker compound: Nora is trying to stay busy and sane, despite the fact that she hasn't heard from Justin in three weeks; Rebecca is still living with Nora, ignoring Holly, and generally being Nora's idea of a dream daughter; Kevin is still dating Senator McAllister's pastor brother; Tommy is a busy new father, while his wife seems to be suffering from a postpartum depression, coupled with grief and a serious case of the bitter; Sarah and Joe are still separated, though speaking, and Sarah has taken to frequenting a "Little Children"-esque playground; Saul is still being pursued by some guy who used to be on The O.C.; Holly misses Rebecca; and Kitty is furiously trying to balance the campaign and the coming nuptials. Phew.

This show's bread and butter is the chaos that comes when the family is all together, so the likelihood that Kitty's birthday would pass without a full-out celebration was never really an option in my mind, regardless of how the plot tried to convince me of such. And, indeed, the show really began firing on all cylinders. Of course, this always seems to happen once we introduce alcohol to the situation, but that's neither here nor there. I know I've harped on it before, but this show does family interactions second to none. While the storylines may tend toward the melodramatic, they're sold so convincingly in the quiet moments between characters, or even in the loud moments. There is an honesty in 30something siblings name-calling or telling each others secrets, a purity of emotion in the hurt that comes when your mom is playing favorites, despite how justified she may feel by doing it.

The problem comes because despite how well the show may handle their melodrama, it just doesn't work to give everyone their own plotline. This week's episode ended up stuffed to the gills (as you can see above) and nearly every plot seemed as though it got the short shrift. The only ones that really seemed to work were those of Nora and Kitty and that could very well be because they got the most time to play out. If the show wants to keep it's audience involved in all the characters, we're going to need a lot more time with them, lest Tommy's wife come off as merely bitchy, or Saul, well, I have NO idea what's going on with Saul.

Brothers & Sisters needs to figure out how to balance their characters before too much of the season slips by. My gut feeling is that this was a one-time-only thing to get everyone (including the new viewers they were surely hoping to attract) caught up with the goings on with the entirety of the Walker clan. It's definitely something we'll keep an eye on in the future.

As for next week, look for continuing faux-drama regarding Justin. Honestly, does anyone out there think the show would kill him off? I didn't think so. Thus making the "next week on" seriously irritating what with some scene obviously taking place at a military funeral. Let me know what you guys thought of the episode. Tell me if you think this has the "break-out hit" potential that I think it does. And please tell Todd that there is no way Justin and Rebecca end up together. *shudders*


Justin said...

Um, incest on network television? I don't think so. Or at least not knowingly. Ugly Betty has a potential after-the-fact one potentially happening, but again, I doubt it.

Anyway, I'm in the camp that thinks that this show is going to get a lot more popular; its a decent enough mass-appealing drama.

However I do not understand the people who like it to an insane degree. No matter what it does it still feels like a "some-other-show" Lite. While that's not bad, it just confuses me to no end.

Of course I'm being obviously snobby and I know it and that could make me completely off-base.

Carrie said...

If Veronica Mars won't even do incest (only implied incest), I doubt Brothers & Sisters will.

I love this show. It isn't the kind of show I need to sit around and discuss for hours, but when I am watching it I am so, so happy and I look forward to the episode each week. Greg Berlanti is seriously sort of my TV hero right now.

I am sad Kevin's hot, hot, HOT boyfriend is being shipped off to Malaysia so he can be wasted playing a cop on Viva Laughlin. Hopefully that show will get canceled quickly and he will return.

Libby said...

Sorry Justin, I'm with Carrie ... this show is love.
As for the incest, I think that Todd forgets that this is a TV show and not real life, thus they are able to resist the siren song of the VanCamp.

Todd said...

Just you wait, guys! Berlanti loves to make America feel squicky. JUST YOU WAIT!