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October 13, 2015

Gone Too Soon: Jack & Bobby

by Jason Hughes, posted Sep 28th 2009 1:06PM
Jack & BobbyEvery once in a while, a show creeps up on the American public and really captures its imagination. Unfortunately, a lot of times that show is in a terrible timeslot on a tiny little network struggling to survive. Such was the case with Jack & Bobby.

I'd like to think people didn't just automatically assume that this was a biopic about the Kennedys, though it certainly was playing with that notion intentionally by choosing that name. At its core, the show was simply another teen drama; the kind The WB had built a network around by the fall of 2004.

But it was also something more than that. It was an in-depth examination of the genesis of an American hero. How can someone go from being an ordinary person with ordinary problems into the most powerful man on the planet? While Jack and Bobby were typical all-American brothers, it was one of their destiny to rise to the seat of President of the United States by the mid-21st Century. That's the destination. Jack & Bobby was the journey.

What was it?
[Spoilers Ahead!] Jack & Bobby was the story of two young boys growing up in mid-America. Only it was so much more than that, for one of those boys was destined to become the President of the United States in 2041. Utilizing a unique story-telling technique, the storylines of the present day were framed by thematically linked interviews with staff members and other contemporaries of the President in the future.

Through these interviews we learn a great deal of future history for the brothers and other members of the present-era cast. It's such that in only one short season, we're able to gain a great deal of insight into the full life of someone who would one day become the leader of the free world, his older brother who was such an inspiration to him, and his free-spirited mother who loved them at the same time she was screwing up motherhood left and right.

Comparison to the brothers Kennedy were made before the show began, but these were fictional brothers named McCallister. While it wasn't revealed until the end of the first episode, it was the younger brother Bobby who became President. Jack didn't live to see it, but remained a strong influence on his brother's administration and personal life.

On co-creator Greg Berlanti's current series Brothers & Sisters, there is a character also named Robert McCallister (Rob Lowe), who was married to a Courtney, just as this Bobby was. However, this is simply an homage to his earlier series.

Why did it have to go?Jack & Bobby cast
On the eve of the cancellation, Berlanti told E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos, "it may very well be our fate to join the ranks of My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks." Things didn't look good. Critically acclaimed, Jack & Bobby suffered poor ratings. It probably doesn't help that during its tenure on The WB, it saw two tough timeslots.

Sundays at 9pm opposite Desperate Housewives and Wednesdays at 9pm opposite similarly-themed The West Wing, The Bachelor and for the latter half of its run, the American Idol results show. That's tough competition for anyone.

How do I find out what happens next?
Well, we already know a lot of what happened next on Bobby's path to becoming President. Really, the series would have just been able to reveal more details of those things that helped mold Bobby into the man he became. It's not "what happens next" that mattered so much as how it happened.

Where did the cast wind up?
  • Matt Long (Jack McCallister) has continued working, including a role as the young Johnny Blaze in the Ghost Rider film. He's been cast in the forthcoming TV series The Deep End for USA.
  • Logan Lerman (Bobby McCallister) shifted almost immediately to film work, where he had roles in several films like 3:10 to Yuma and Gamer. He's been cast as the title character in the forthcoming Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
  • John Slattery (Peter Benedict) went on to a multi-episode stint on Desperate Housewives before nabbing an Emmy-nominated starring role as Roger Sterling on AMC's Mad Men.
  • Keri Lynn Pratt (Missy Belknap) has done the guest circuit route, including a multi-episode arc on Berlanti's Brothers & Sisters.
  • Christine Lahti (Grace McCallister) followed up her work here mostly with small roles in film and in television, on notable series like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Law & Order: SVU.
  • Jessica Pare (Courtney Benedict) is getting mostly guest spots and roles in lower budget independent films, but continues working.
  • Bradley Cooper (Tom Wexler Graham) appeared in shows like Alias and Nip/Tuck before shifting fully into big-time movie star this past summer with The Hangover.
Who Cares?The McCallister family
There's a small but faithful following for the series, much like there was when it was on the air. Jack & Bobby hasn't necessarily earned cult status. You're as likely to hear that someone's never heard of it when you mention it as you are to hear that they loved it. Possibly more so.

But one thing's for certain. Almost everyone who actually took the time to find the show and watch an episode or two immediately fell in love with it. Jack & Bobby was a show about hope and possibilities for something better. It certainly seems like it was the right show for the right time. But maybe America wasn't quite ready for hope yet.

When can I see it?
While those fans continue efforts to get Jack & Bobby released on DVD, they have made some progress. The new streaming video site, named after the former network TheWB.com is currently streaming all 22 episodes of the series. You can check out all the action here.

[via Wikipedia, IMDb, Warner Bros., TheWB.com, The Jack & Bobby Chronology and more!]

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I truly loved this show and was incredibly sad to see it go. Have recently been rewatching it and fell in love with it all over again. Anything we can do to help it get a DVD release?

October 26 2012 at 12:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Truly a great show.

For those interested in Logan Lerman, you can find him on Twitter: @l2lerman. Very talented and down to earth guy.

October 12 2009 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

loved this show
caught every single episode on its first run
and Matt Long is H-O-T

September 29 2009 at 2:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Truly one of the best short lived shows ever on tv...and especially the CW/WB.

September 28 2009 at 11:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thank you so much for the streaming link! I absolutely loved this show. Loved, loved, loved. I was so sorry to see it end, but was happy they did tell us which one became POTUS.

The episodes are going to be fun to watch again.

September 28 2009 at 8:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This great series was also screened in Australia and had me hooked from episode one. I'd love to own it on DVD.

September 28 2009 at 6:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When I first saw the title of this show, I assumed it was a docudrama about the Kennedys and never bothered tuning in.
I did notice recently that Comcast is running episodes OnDemand - maybe I'll check it out now.

September 28 2009 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I liked this show. I included it in my own "short-lived series" back in May (http://www.thetalkingbox.com/2009/05/two-brothers.html). Glad you're making more people aware of it! :)

September 28 2009 at 4:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


September 28 2009 at 4:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show had so much potential and was truly gone too soon. I knew it was a great show because it was a must-see for my mom, who never watches TV!

September 28 2009 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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