‘Brothers and Sisters’ has taken a hit creatively this season with its weak scripts and poor character development, but its cast remains as strong as ever.
A disappointing season thus far….
Brothers & Sisters has left me disoriented and confused this year. Somewhere between season four and season five, the Walker Clan fast-forwarded a year and in the process, the show also came perilously close to jumping the shark.
Even though the “time jump” gimmick has become somewhat passé and overused (think Lost and Desperate Housewives), the B&S show runners still decided it a great idea to pick up the show a full 12 months after last season’s-multi-car pile-up finale. Note to execs in charge: A cliff hanger works better if you actually plan to satisfy the viewer’s expectations when the show next airs. But leaping ahead a full year, and completely bypassing the accident’s aftermath, amounts to a complete cop-out and the viewers resent it. At least this audience member does. I’ve read other columns that praised the move, claiming it rejuvenated the show, but I genuinely disagree with that assessment.
And there are several reasons why. First and foremost, when B&S picked up this fall, Kitty Walker (Calista Flockhart) was contemplating pulling the plug on husband Robert (Rob Lowe), who had (we were told) languished for a year in a vegetative state, following the horrific car accident in which most of the Walker clan were involved. Of course, viewers didn’t get to actually see the agony Senator McCallister’s coma must have caused for his family. Nor did we see much of their gradual journey to acceptance, letting go, and moving on.
Instead, we only saw Kitty’s anti-climatic decision to remove Robert from life support. While she may have had ample OFF-CAMERA time to accept that the Robert she knew and loved was gone; as a viewer, I’m still stuck in that car accident scene. And I’m still vividly recalling Robert wave off Army Medic Justin’s (Dave Annable) help; and instead telling him to tend to Holly Harper(Patricia Wettig). Obviously, I still haven’t had any closure to Robert’s untimely demise, and frankly, I don’t give a flying fig that Kitty has apparently found the peace that I lack. Of course, she had a year to recover, a year that I didn’t get to see.
In that same ridiculous missed year, fans also lost seeing how Justin and Rebecca’s (Emily VanCamp) young marriage fell apart drastically enough that they actually divorced. Don’t get me wrong; I think the character of Rebecca had definitely run her course and I’m not really sorry to see Rebecca leave the canvas but completely ruining a marriage, OFF-CAMERA, is just too jarring and I simply can’t suspend my disbelief that far.
Similarly, the writers had Rebecca’s mother Holly suffer some convenient brain injury as a result of the pile-up. Conveniently, this annoying amnesia also caused her to forget Rebecca was her daughter, which, in turn, made Rebecca permanently leave town. And that’s a really long way to go just to write off a character that wasn’t working anymore, anyway. By contrast, Holly IS still one of the most interesting characters on the show, and by giving her this contrived amnesia; she’s become a pale imitation of her former complicated self. Way to ruin a once-fine character, writers!
Not quite destroyed, but definitely tarnished, is my favorite couple, Scotty Wandell and Kevin Walker (Luke MacFarlane and Matthew Rhys). Blindsided by Scotty’s one-night stand (which again was never even hinted at last season), the duo are struggling this season to find their way back to one another. Again with the off-camera drama? I saw every episode last season and I never witnessed Scotty sleeping with another man. Are we all sensing a trend here? As this unfaithfulness was never shown; not even a hint of it; it’s really hard to accept that Scotty strayed. Along with poor Kevin, fans only learned of the affair long after the fact and without any evidence.
Still happy (thus far) this season are the oldest Walker sister Sarah (Rachel Griffiths) and her younger boyfriend, Luc Laurent (Gilles Marini). Call me a cynic, but why is this dashing, bohemian, French artist living in suburban California with a divorcee and her two tween children? There’s some sluggish writing going on with this storyline that’s never bothered to explore or adequately demonstrate why it is these two opposites supposedly passionately love each other. As a result, I’m still not buying this couple and I’m certainly not invested in any storyline they’re involved in, either.
Plot-wise, Brothers & Sisters has fallen down this season. But thankfully, it’s still blessed with a cast of fine, distinguished actors who give it their all, regardless of the current weak scripts and poor character development. Sally Field (as matriarch Nora Walker) and Ron Rifkin (as Uncle Saul) are especially gifted, and as such, it’d be great to see Mr. Rifkin enjoy a more substantial storyline. It’s due to the strength of the cast alone that I’m sticking it out with the Walkers. I still maintain a faint but persistent hope that this family drama once again finds its way. But for now, I have to give it an almost-failing grade of C-.