First Impressions

Brothers and Sisters/The Nine

Distributed By: ABC

Reviewed by Ismael Manzano


     I come to you all again, live—well actually, a week late—with my fifth installment of First Impressions, a series that deals with my initial thoughts on brand new television series.  This week I bring you too good shows:  ABC’s Wednesday night hit, The Nine, and ABC’s Sunday night hit, Brothers and Sisters.  Now that you know the particulars, let’s dive right in, shall we?

     Let’s start with The Nine.  The characters: Since there are essentially, nine main characters, I’m going to simply list them now to get it all over with and then get on with the rest of the review.  The Nine stars, are Eva Rios (Lourdes Benedicto), bank teller and mother of a four year old boy,  her sister, Franny Rios (Camille Guaty), Egan Foote (John Billingsley of Enterprise), disgruntled salesman, Nick Cavanaugh (Timothy Daly), the police officer with a gambling addiction, Lizzie Miller (Jessica Collins), a social worker who is in a relationship with Jeremy Kates (Scott Wolf of Party of Five), Malcolm Jones, (Chi McBride of too many things to list), bank manager and father of Felicia Jones (Dana Davis of Boston Public), and Kathryn Hale (Kim Raver), Assistant District Attorney.

     The plot:  A bank robbery that was supposed to take only five minutes, spirals into a two and a half day nightmare for the hapless people trapped inside.  Some make it out alive, others don’t, but they all share the experiences that will bond them for life.  What are those experiences?  Well, that’s where The Nine gets interesting.  The harrowing fifty-two hour escapade within that bank are not revealed to the viewing audience.  We are given glimpses, hints, innuendo and made to infer as to what horrible things occurred to these nine people.  What happened in there, that cost one young woman her life, drove a wedge between a seemingly happy couple, drove two strangers closer together, deemed an average man a hero, and made them all close friends?  You’ll have to watch the show to find that out.  My only concern about the show is whether or not it has staying power.  The excellent writing, brilliant acting, and gritty subject matter, is bound to make for one exciting season, but I wonder whether that kind of momentum can carry on into multiple seasons or if the producers even planned for it to go that far.  If it stands as a solitary season, I’ll definitely purchase it for my collection when it becomes available, but I do hope the writers can find a way to keep the story going for a couple of years without cheapening or utterly destroying the gem of a show they’ve created.  And by the way, The Nine had what Runaway—as previously stated in my last First Impressions review—did not have: a credible, and actually interesting cliffhanger ending.  On a comical note, Scott Wolf, Party of Five alumni, plays a doctor, much like fellow Party of Five alumni and current ABC star Matthew Fox does on his flashback-driven show, Lost.  Coincidence, I think not.

     And now for Brothers and Sisters.  As the title suggests, this ABC drama is about family, specifically, the Walker family, and their struggles managing the family business and each other in the wake of a patriarchal death.  The main character, Kitty Walker (Calista Flockhart of Ally McBeal), is a staunch Republican with her own radio show and a booming future ahead of her.  Unfortunately, her views contradict sharply with that of her mother Nora’s (Sally Fields, from just about everything), who is rabidly Democratic and holds Kitty responsible for her youngest son's decision to enlist in the current Iraqi war.

     But if you think this show is all one big political platform, your wrong.  There more to it than that.  Their father’s death affects the family in many different ways, not the least of which is the revelations it kicks up that the family business is going under fast, that their uncle Saul (Ron Rifkin), has helped their father embezzle money from the company and hide their father’s fifteen year affair.  Is that enough for you?

     All in all, this show was much better than I’d expected and much better than I feared it would be once I learned that Kitty was a proud, Red State girl.  They have some real heavy hitters in the form of Fields and Flockhart, and the rest of the cast are no slouches either.  If the show can keep the political aspects out of the forefront and use it as a tool to motivate the characters’ actions, then I think ABC will have another solid hit on their hands.  So, in a nutshell, check out Brothers and Sisters, if you’re looking for a smart, slightly politically-driven, entertaining show about family.  I will.  That’s all for now.  Stay tuned for my next installment. 

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