Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pilot Review: Brothers

Brothers (FOX)
Premiered September 25 at 8pm

FOX doesn’t have a great track record with comedies that aren’t animated. With the exception of the monstrously popular but short-lived “Arrested Development,” the network has tried and failed time and time again with series like “Do Not Disturb,” “Unhitched,” “The Return of Jezebel James,” and “Free Ride.” Their latest non-musical, live-action effort is perhaps the most formulaic of all its past attempts. Two brothers, one a former football player and the other a handicapped restaurant manager, hate each other but are reunited to under the same roof to help keep their family afloat. The jokes are far more frequent than the laughs, and it’s one of those shows that finds a funny line and likes to capitalize on that, repeating it over and over again within a span of just a few minutes. That kind of comedy may work for some, but it doesn’t here. The brothers have already nearly reconciled by the end of the pilot, so each episode will just involve them fighting continuously before temporarily calling a truce and realizing that they do in fact care about each other. It’s not exactly a promising setup. As portrayed by comedian Daryl Mitchell and real-life football player Michael Strahan, the brothers fall very neatly into conventional character types, and it doesn’t seem like there will be much room for (or interest in) development of those stereotypes at all throughout the series’ run. The parents are woefully caught in this tragic waste of their talents. Carl Weathers provides a few laughs as the patriarch of the clan, and somehow CCH Pounder went from “The Shield” to this. It’s unfathomable. This is a pure, contrived, predictable, formulaic sitcom that has the ability to bore and annoy viewers to tears.

How will it work as a series? It’s pretty much set out – even though this is the introductory pilot, the show, as implied by its title, will focus on the warring relationship of the two brothers and how they fight and make up all the time. It should be all about competition and one-upping the other brother, which isn’t exactly anything revolutionary when it comes to television comedies.
How long will it last? FOX has kept Brad Garrett’s unfortunate “Til Death” alive far longer than it should have ever existed, and it’s paired that show with this one. That’s a good sign for this series, which could find its niche audience, which definitely doesn’t include me. It’s a show that would be better suited for the CW or its predecessor UPN, but FOX probably doesn’t care about its comedies as much as its dramas, so this one might last out the season but probably won't score a touchdown and make it into overtime (a.k.a. a second season). Dismal ratings for the premiere, however, may signal an early end to the game.

Pilot grade: F

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