In the comments, Michael properly called me on an incorrect thirtysomething reference in an earlier review. He was right – the Michael & Elliot company was not out of business at the beginning of the series. But the gist of what I recalled was correct – the story started in the middle of events, but that was that the company was failing, flailing, en route to its demise.
Which leads us quite nicely to the review of the pilot of Brothers & Sisters, directed by thirtysomething star Ken Olin and with a supporting performance by thirtysomething star Patricia Wettig. It’s built around a family with a family business – not everyone’s involved, but a few are. And at this point, the business appears to be in trouble. In this case, there are some financial irregularities popping up. That’s half of what’s going on. The other is that the semi-estranged daughter is visiting home with an eye for moving her conservative radio show career onto television. (It’s part of a certain liberal-versus-conservative theme going on here that is more about team versus team than about actual conflicting beliefs. However, doing this is part of a not-unreasonable effort showing up places to show that TV can portray a stated conservative or religious soul without the automatically being hypocritical or evil.)
The daughter is played by Ally McBeal. Oh, okay, it’s the actress who played Ally McBeal, but the whole cast is made up of that guy from Picket Fences, that gal from Six Feet Under, that nun who used to fly… enough to interfere with thinking of these people as a family This is an effect that is likely to fade with further viewings, but not as much as it should, because this show is so much about the conflicts within the family that there really isn’t that underlying sense of similarity that will make you quite believe it’s a family. There’s more to a family than bickering.
All in all, it’s moment after moment of conflicting, forboding, and the downside of drama withut any sense of hope. It’s all the wife being cheated on, the uncle playing with the books, the controlling fiancee, the druggie brother. There are characters there, but they don’t achieve the level of “interesting” yet. There are enough characters running around that we don’t get enough of any one of them in the pilot to really identify with them.
Apparently, this series had a lot of thrashing going on behind the scenes, with cast and key crew changes. Perhaps it will shake out with a stronger center after the pilot… but all in all, despite having actors I like, there’s not enough here to make it recommendable.