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Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Brothers" Review: Was It Really That Bad?

Every review I had read told me it was bad, but I just couldn’t stay away from FOX’s new sitcom, “Brothers.”

I have been a fan of Daryl “Chill” Mitchell since “The John Larroquette Show,” but with Michael Strahan—the former NFL great, with very little acting experience—as his co-star, I didn’t hold out much hope.

So imagine my surprise to find that the show is not that bad. Some of the jokes were actually funny. Granted, many of them were not…

But honestly it was hard to tell the difference since that horrendous laugh track laughed at everything equally. And that—not Strahan’s lack of acting experience—is the show’s biggest hurdle…

Strahan is Mike Trainor, a former NFL great who returns home to visit his family after his dad (Carl Weathers) has a stroke. Mitchell is Chill, Mike’s brother, who harbors a great deal of resentment toward Mike. CCH Pounder is Adele, the matriarch of the family.

As the half hour unfolded, we learned just exactly what the source of Chill’s resentment is. Mike was supposed to pick him up from a party once but he didn’t show and Chill got in the car with a friend who had been drinking. There was an accident and Chill ended up in a wheelchair. Now Chill is struggling to balance his anger over the accident with the true admiration he feels for his brother’s success.

Of course, because this is a sitcom, things aren’t entirely what they seem. Mike learns that his mother lied about his dad having a stroke (although he does seem to be slipping a little) and that Chill lied about his restaurant being successful. And Chill learns that Mike is now broke.

And in the end, Mike and Chill give their Mom what she was going for to begin with—her sons back at home and getting along, as they agree to be partners in the restaurant.

Mitchell is playing the same sarcastic character he always plays, but he’s so good at it, you really don’t mind. And he gets a lot of the funny jokes. But the majority of the laughs come from Pounder, who is probably best known for dramatic roles. She’s got good comic timing and it’s in full effect here—if those hideous fake laughs didn’t keep stepping on her lines.

I despise laugh tracks anyway, but I really despise tracks that laugh at every single thing, even when they’re not funny. I half expected there to be laughs when Chill revealed how he ended up in the wheelchair. That’s how bad it was.

But even without the track, “Brothers” is not the funniest show on TV. However, I’ve seen much worse—especially on FOX. I’m not going to add it to my must-see list, but it might be worth checking out if there’s nothing else on…

“Brothers” airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on FOX…

Photo Credit: Michael Levine/FOX