Review: Brothers 1×1-1×2

Like sticking pins in your eyes

In the US: Fridays, 8pm, Fox

I really want to know who does the commissioning for Fox’s comedy division. Do they have a background in the theatre? Do they love hard-hitting tragedies?

What’s up with them basically, because they’re not hiring people who can write funny.

Take a look at Brothers, another ‘sitcom’ that like its Fox antecdent Happy Hour is really a drama with a laughter track: a football player has to return home from New York to be with his family, when his mother calls to tell him his father’s had a stroke. Back in Texas, he has to confront his bitter, wheelchair-bound brother, whose own sports career was destroyed thanks to a car accident and whose restaurant is now failing.

But it soon transpires that the prodigal son’s manager has run off with all his money, leaving him bankrupt, the only asset being the house he bought his parents. So he chooses to return to living with his family, to join his brother in running the restaurant, and to help look after his dementing father.

It’s like Ibsen or Chekov, isn’t it?

BROTHERS is a comedy about a former NFL hot shot who learns that even though you can always go home again, doing so might be more difficult than you think.

MIKE TRAINOR (Michael Strahan) seemingly has it all – he’s a good-looking, wealthy and recently retired NFL player living the high life in New York City, but he’s about to get sidelined. When Mike gets a phone call from his mom, ADELE (CCH Pounder), who orders him home to Houston, he quickly realizes that the more his life has changed, the more his family has stayed the same.

Mike quickly realizes the more his life has changed, the more his family has stayed the same. His brother CHILL (Daryl Chill Mitchell), whose life changed drastically after a car accident left him in a wheelchair, is struggling to keep Trainor’s, his sports-themed restaurant, afloat. Even though the publicity from his famous brother might help business, Chill doesn’t want help from Mike. The rivalry between the brothers is exactly the same as they were when they were kids. If they can stop their bickering, put aside their differences and learn to be teammates, Mike and Chill might just turn out to be each other’s biggest asset.

Wedged between Mike and Chill are their parents. Their father, whom everyone refers to as COACH (Carl Weathers), is the local high school football coach and the conservative, opinionated alpha male of his clan. Coach thinks he runs the show, but it’s actually Adele who calls the shots. Saucy, stern and a schemer, she is the mastermind behind this family.

And when she learns that Mike’s business manager took off with all his money, she orchestrates a plan to keep Mike in Houston, save Chill’s restaurant and bring the family back together under one roof again.

His family — however dysfunctional they may be — is the only one he’s got. Adele’s plan helps Mike realize that his family — however dysfunctional they may be — is the only one he’s got. And although he may not have a penny to his name, as long as he’s surrounded by people who love him, he’ll always be a rich man.

BROTHERS is created by Don Reo and produced by Tantamount Studios and Impact Zone Productions, Inc. in association with Sony Pictures Television. Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum, Mitch Hurwitz and Don Reo serve as executive producers. Ted Wass directed the pilot written by Don Reo.

Is it any good? 
As with Happy Hour, you can try to forget the laughter track, and appreciate that while you’re not going to be laughing at the bleak attempts at jokes these poor people make about their situations, you can at least sympathise with them. You might just be able to sit through an episode of the show then.

But it’s really supposed to be a comedy, and unfortunately, it’s tragically unfunny. Not a single joke hit home. Many felt like iron talons being raked over flayed flesh. I mean, a guy whose memory is failing from dementia and who decides to shave his ‘widdly-do’ to keep up with the times is supposed to be funny?

It’s just not.

The show is mostly two brothers sniping at each other, while the mother tries to control them and the father heads off into a world of his own. Which isn’t funny either.

CCH Pounder and Carl Weathers are wasted; the two brothers, one of whom is a former NFL player, are actually surprisingly good. But it’s really just not a comedy show.

It’s nice to see a sitcom have a strong, dramatic foundation for its comedy, rather than a weak, ill thought out situation slammed down in an effort just to generate one-liners. But there’s just no funny here, which is a shame. It would be nice for Fox to have a good sitcom for a change.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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