STUDIO: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
MSRP: $36.99
RUNNING TIME: 671 minutes
• Audio Commentaries on selected episodes
• Guest book
• TV Dinners: Food From Season 2
• Open House: Designing the Brothers & Sisters Set
• Bloopers and outtakes
• Deleted scenes

The Pitch

Take trials and tribulations of Walker family, add water, lather.

The Humans

Calista Flockhart, Sally Field, Rachel Griffiths, Ron Rifkin, Balthazar Getty, Patricia Wettig, Rob Lowe, Matthew Rhys, Dave Annable, Emily VanCamp.

The Nutshell

This is Season 2 of the story of the Walker clan, headed up by matriarch Nora (Field), siblings Sarah (Griffiths), Kitty (Flockhart), Tommy (Getty), Kevin (Rhys) and Justin (Annable). They’re all still getting over the loss of their father (Tom Skerritt), who died suddenly, but not before leaving the family in disarray with news that he fathered a child out of wedlock, Rebecca (VanCamp), and whose mistress, Holly, is steadily moving in on the family business. 

Flockhart: “…that’s really not pertinent to my character.”
CHUD Interviewer: “Come on, it’s an easy question.” 
Flockhart: “I really don’t feel comfortable discussing it.”
CHUD Interviewer: “America;’s dying to know, Calista.”
Flockhart: “It’s silly really.”
CHUD Interviewer: “Just answer the question please.”
Flockhart: “Yes, he brought the skull to bed once…”

The Lowdown

If you like family sudsers frought with emotion and “let’s talk about our feelings” tripe, then you’ll like Brothers & Sisters.  The show pretty much powers its engine with the stuff.  Not to say that the show isn’t watchable, but it’s pretty much straight family drama of this neurotic clan, who always seem to argue about 10 different things at once when ever they gather en masse.  It’s actually the staple of the show that they all love each other, yet drive each other hopelessly crazy.

Season 2 pretty much picks up where the last season left off, with the multiple storylines of the characters in full swing.  youngest son Justin, a former drug addict, is set to return home from Iraq after being deployed at the end of Season 1.  The entire family has been on pins and needles awaiting any news of his exploits and hoping he hasn’t been fragged by an IED or something.  Meanwhile, Kitty, who is staffing on fiance Senator Robert McCallister’s (Lowe) staff, is having to balance work with her engagement and not always succeeding.

Chase: “…yeah, I tried it once.”
CHUD Interviewer: “And how did that work out for you?”
Chase: “Daryl saw me watching her shower.”
CHUD Interviewer: “Well you know…you weren’t really invisible.”
Chase: “Yeah…worth a shot though.”
CHUD Interviewer: “Sure…”

Tommy is having issues with his wife, Julia (Jane Morris), being depressed after the death of their newborn son, which is leading to marital strife between them.  Sarah is left running the family business, even as Tommy has left to start a winery, and her marriage has also disintegrated and she’s fighting for custody of her kids.  Kevin, the gay lawyer, is constantly dealing with the issues of not finding a stable relationship, even though he’s locked lips with McCallister’s gay preacher brother and come across an old flame, who’s a struggling chef. 

Wettig: “Well you know, getting a part like mine takes years of dedication and sacrifice.”
CHUD Interviewer: “Boning the exec producer also helps.”
Wettig: “Right, like I said…”

When Justin does return home, his knee’s been injured and he at first struggles with the pain of not taking any painkillers due to being an addict, then struggles even more with becoming re-addicted.  He’s the first to form a relationship with illegitimate sister, Rebecca, and that relationship starts to take an inappropriate turn for him.  Family uncle Saul (Rifkin), is struggling with coming out.  And Nora has had to move on from her heartache at having been betrayed by husband William and trying to hold the family together, while also seeking new avenues in her life, including a relationship with one of McCallister’s senior advisors (Danny Glover).

Field: “…so then the FAA arrested me for trying to fly a plane without as license.  I don’t see how they were justified in doing that.  I was Sister Bertrille after all.
CHUD Interviewer: “Just because you played
The Flying Nun doesn’t mean you’re qualified to actually fly a plane, Sally.  “
“Field: “I don’t see your point…” 

There’s not much flashy storytelling going on here.  Just meat and potatoes family drama for the most part, although usually the highlight of any episode is when there’s some major issue that brings the family together, such as Justin’s addiction and it’s literally seconds before all of the side issues come exploding onto the scene as the family devolves into their usual squabbling.  Two of the three biggest stars, Calista Flockhart and Rob Lowe are pretty much doing characters that made them famous: Flockhart with the flighty and emotional Kitty, Lowe with the principled, gallant Robert.  So there’s not much new ground broken by either actor, not to say that they’re doing bad jobs, just not much new.  Finally, with two Oscars, Sally Field can pretty much phone in a character like Nora (which isn’t too far from Norma Rae eponymously).  She’s fine as well in the role.

Glover: “Sally told you her ‘trying to fly the plane’ story didn’t she?”
CHUD Interviewer: “Yes.”
Glover: “Yeah, she told it to me back on the set of Places in the Heart.  You think that’s messed up, you should hear what she tried to do as Gidget at the Stones’ Altamont concert back in ’69.  Now that’s some truly freaky shit…”

Considering that Ken Olin is one of the executive producers and directors, and wife Patricia Wettig is one of the co-stars, Brothers & Sisters definitely has that thirtysomething vibe to it.  If you liked that show, you’ll probably like this one.  If not, go watch some shit blowing up.  It’s perfectly understandable.

The Package

Season 2 was strike-shortened, so there are 16 episodes on four discs, with a bonus features disc.  The episodes are in 1.78:1 and in Doby 5.1 Surround with optional French and Spanish subtitles.  In regards to features, there are commentaries on episodes “Home Front” by exec producer Ken Olin and Patricia Wettig and Matthew Rhys, “36 Hours” by Dave Annable, Sarah Jane Morris and Emily VanCamp, and “Prior Commitment” by exec producer Monica Owusu-Breen and Maththew Rhys and Luke MacFarlane. 

Lowe: “So I think the at the very heart of my platform, I stand for family values, smaller government and – “
CHUD Interviewer: “Rob, you only play a U.S. Senator on TV.  You’re not really in elected office.”
Lowe: “Right.  But if I were, my platform would consist of – “
CHUD Interviewer: “And we’re done here…”

There are deleted scenes totaling about five minutes, Guest Book is a 14-minute feature that shows clips of guest stars from Season 2 including Danny Glover, Chevy Chase, Garry Marshall, Steven Weber among others, as well as interviews with them.  TV Dinners: Food From Season 2 is six-minutes long and deals with the food that the “food stylist” prepares for the fictional meals on the show.  Open House: Designing the Brothers & Sisters Set is a 10-minute feature on the show’s production and set design.  Finally, there are four minutes of bloopers and outtakes.

6.8 out of 10