(S04E01) "William was a cheater. He had this bottle-blond tramp across town..." - Nora's mother to Holly
The dysfunctional Walker clan is back, and it didn't take long for the squabbling and worrying and break-ups and tragedies to surface. Things open right away with Nora's feeling of foreboding, and with this family, it's usually warranted. There's generally a nice mix of comedy and drama in Brothers & Sisters, and this episode followed suit.
Do you have those things on your favorite shows that just make you smile when they happen? It's not like it's the highlight of the show or anything; maybe it's just giving you those warm fuzzies inside. Maybe it's when Earl crosses something off his list on My Name is Earl. Or maybe it's as simple as when Penny sits in Sheldon's spot on The Big Bang Theory. Those familiar moments somehow make us feel like we're with old friends.
I get those. Most recently, I've been getting them when the Walkers of ABC's Brothers & Sisters are all on the phone together in some kind of mass speaker phone teleconferencing chain from hell. I'd say I don't normally watch these family soaps, but I've always liked Sally Field, and when she was recast as the matriarch of the Walkers, I found myself tuning in. This despite the fact that Ally McBeal's lips looked even puffier and she's still way too skinny. But then she married Rob Lowe and I've always liked him, too.
(S02E16) Rebecca: "I don't know what to do next."
Justin: "Me neither."
I cried twice during this episode. Maybe more. I cried when Nora told Kevin he deserved to have a beautiful wedding just as much as anybody else. And I also cried at two more points, but I'll talk about them below the jump. This was a beautiful episode of television. Even though I don't know that I have written about the music used in episodes, I thought the use of "Can't Find My Way Home" for the last two scenes was profoundly moving. Last year, I thought the season finale was a disaster because it ended with grand hijinks and everybody jumping into a pool. This year's season ended quietly on a beautiful sunny hillside, and it just about broke my heart. I am going to go out on a limb here and hope that this show wins an Emmy, because when they do it well, they really nail it.
So, what are we to think of Holly? Is she a pathological liar and a scheming manipulator? A greedy opportunist? Or is she genuinely trying to do the right thing as she sees it, affair with William Walker not withstanding? Honestly, I can't make up my mind, but I am leaning toward seeing her as a flawed person who is doing her best. Lord knows, she could have taken her inheritance from William Walker and kissed the entire clan goodbye. Perhaps some see her as unable to let go, unable to stop until she has revenge on the Walkers for having William in ways she couldn't. But that seems a rather extreme pathology. It's much more interesting to view her as a complicated human being, which has certainly been supported on the show.
I am starting to feel like Siskel and Ebert every week. Oh, that was a great episode! Oh, that episode sucked! It doesn't seem like there is any in between with me. Does that mean I'm too picky?
You know, it's funny because sometimes I don't even know how I feel about an episode, really, until I start writing about it, so my actual experience with watching it isn't necessarily negative, even if I write up a critical review. But tonight, I am pretty sure I know how I feel about it: That was a great episode.
Lots of things going on this week: Things are definitely heating up and charging down the runway toward May Sweeps and the end of the season, but they are things that have been set up for so long and so well that their very inevitability feels natural, unhurried, unforced, like a cart careening down a hill, picking up momentum, and heading into rush-hour traffic. And I'm not going to talk about it before the jump, so let's get going, shall we?
Sometimes what I actually want to review is the scenes for next week's show, because it seems more interesting than the one I just watched. However, I know that many of you deliberately do not watch those clips, so we shall say no more on the subject. I am glad the Walkers are back, and I like how they have handled the time off due to the strike: they simply said, "Three months later," and picked up with events then.
Before that jump, though, we learned some important things: That Graham and Sarah are still dating, that Tommy and Julia are still happily together, and that Senator Robert McCallister loses the Republican Party's nomination for the Presidency, so Robert returns to the Senate.
"Yes." Sarah Walker to Kevin Walker
This was an immensely likable episode. If you have read my reviews from Season One in particular, you know that I tend to distinguish the episodes I like from the episodes I *really* like based on who wrote them. This episode was co-written by Cliff Olin, son of Patricia Wettig (Holly) and Ken Olin (David Caplan). Cliff has been writing for the show since its inception, and he is a young writer, barely in his mid-twenties. I have noticed an unevenness in his writings in past episodes, but I think he is finally starting to hit his stride.
(S02E09) "We could wake up tomorrow, and it could all go to hell."-- Robert McAllister
I have to admit: I would have owed Tommy $100. But not for the same reasons as Kevin and Justin. I will get to that in a bit though. Was it just me, or did this episode have some editing glitches? One minute Kitty is telling Robert that it's bad luck to sleep with the groom on the night before the wedding and Justin and Lena seem to be talking about the wedding being that day, and then Kitty is in the Walker kitchen working on her vows and the wedding is still a day away. Anyway, it wasn't a big deal-- it just seemed a little incongruous for a bit.
(S02E08) "Well, I'm a democrat, and I lost my virginity to "She's Got Legs."-- Sarah Walker
Did everybody lose their virginity to a song? I don't remember whether I did or not, but if you want to share yours, feel free. I loved it when Robert walked in and Nora asked him what song was playing when he lost his. And then when she revealed that her first time wasn't with their father. And that is all very well and good, but I personally have never found Chevy Chase (Stan Harris) to be particularly attractive. However, I am willing to put that aside and say that I thought he did a wonderfully understated turn as
(S02E07) "Well, who'd chain you the radiator and poke you with a stick?" Sarah, knitting.
Meh. This episode was fine. It wasn't special. It was just kind of... filler. And I don't mean to cast aspersions on the show at all: That is what shows do leading up to November sweeps. They can't have anything really important happen right now. I hesitate to say anything negative about the writing these days because I fully support the WGA strike. But this episode felt forced. They totally set it up a few weeks ago when Justin started taking pain killers again, and they gave themselves a convenient family "crisis" to deal with now.
I am starting to regret every time I have criticized the show for being too prone to hijinks and slapstick, because after the past two episodes, I would love to have Robert's crazy family show up again so they can all jump into the pool. The best way to describe this episode is maudlin. No wonder Justin is taking more pain meds. This is some pretty depressing stuff, and it doesn't look like it's going to get happier anytime soon. Is this the writers' way of dealing with the impending strike? A little doom and gloom for everyone? And is Tommy growing a mustache, and could someone please call his agent and tell him to shave it?
Oooh, this was a painful episode to watch. In a good way. The writing was absolutely spot on for this episode, and it was just beautifully played. Some things happened that I expected and some things that I didn't, which I will get into after the jump. It was the obligatory Halloween episode, but nicely downplayed also. I loved the fact that the minute Nora's back was turned, Justin and Rebecca dove into the candy bowl like a couple of little kids. It was a good juxtaposition to pair Robert's debate with Halloween instead of focusing on the Walkers engaging in a big costume party, as might have happened with this crazy bunch.
First up was The Closer at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. Kyra Sedgwick and other cast members of the TNT drama mixed and mingled on the show's squad room set. Most reporters hovered around Sedgwick to inquire about her Emmy nomination for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, the show's new season and husband Kevin Bacon.
Despite the pleadings of many fans, DVDs of the 20-year-old Emmy-winning dramatic series thirtysomething have yet to be (officially) released.
While fans (like yours truly) patiently wait for thirtysomething DVDs to go on sale, the four actresses who starred in the yuppie-focused show spoke with People magazine about being in their 50s, about cosmetic surgery, about the fact that they're spokeswomen for an arthritis prevention campaign (Arthritis? It has been a long time!) and about their love lives.
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