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TV Review: Brothers & Sisters Season 5 So Far

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This season of ABC’s Brothers & Sisters began rough, with the loss of cast member Rob Lowe, and the reduction of some of the others’ parts, including the departure of Emily VanCamp. I am most upset about VanCamp, as I took her breakup personally, and am most unhappy about it. Happily, Ryan (Luke Grimes) was finally booted as well, having been rarely seen last spring. I figured the necessary shakeup due to actors wanting to leave created the uneasiness I felt, and eventually things would settle down into the show I’ve loved for years.

Sadly, that has not been the case. The last two episodes of the fall run in particular demonstrated just how downhill this series has rolled. In “Get a Room”, all of the Walkers (who appeared in the episode) ended up in the same hotel and ran into each other in a comedy of errors. The show has done similar things before, but apparently they’re running out of ideas on how to make this massive collision of their lives happen. I can tell you, sending them all coincidentally to the same hotel was not it. It lost all believability, even as I tried to tell myself, as they said in the episodes, “well, the rooms were half off”.

Even worse was the fall finale, “Cold Turkey”. Nora (Sally Field) decided to go away for Christmas with her new boyfriend, Karl (Johny Terry, Lost). First of all, the Nora Walker we all know would never, and I mean never, abandon her family on Christmas. I don’t care how they tried to explain it away, and gave her a huge guilt trip for going. She would not have left in the first place. Second of all, the dream sequence she had, where her kids had grown up evil and colluded with stepmother Holly (Patricia Wettig) to kill Nora was ridiculous. I don’t care where Nora’s brain was, it was way too bizarre. I sat very uncomfortably through the entire scene.

Speaking of Holly, she has been MIA for most of the season. Yes, she suffered serious amnesia from the car wreck, forgetting a lot of her life. Her arc where Justin (Dave Annable) helped her was sweet. But I was very disappointed when Holly asked Justin to move on, and he did. Why is Holly even still in the cast? That dream scene was the most we’d seen of her in weeks. She’s a wonderful character, developed so beautifully over four seasons, and now she’s being completely wasted. Please, writers, get her back into the story fast.

On the other hand, the one character having a good year is Saul (Ron Rifkin). Dealing with HIV is not ‘good’, of course, but Saul has already had more story this fall than all of last season. As a fan of Rifkin from his days on Alias I’m delighted to see the better treatment.

I also have been fairly satisfied with Kevin (Matthew Rhys) and Scotty (Luke Macfarlane). Although I was heartbroken and sickened to see Scotty do the unthinkable and cheat on Kevin, that flashback actually justified it, showing the bad place the two had grown to, and what motivated him to do it. Scotty’s intense regret helped, and they came out of it without going overboard. If the couple ever split up, proving definitively that no Walker can have a good relationship, I would likely be done with the show. Kudos for the one plot that is working among many.

The relationship merry-go-round of the Walkers this season has been horrendous. Kitty (Calista Flockhart) is by far the worst offender, who, after just unplugging her husband, has bounced to a couple of different guys, none of which really clicked with her. Sure, the writers ‘dealt’ with her feelings on that issue, but they still went ahead with these dumb stories. Her latest is twenty-seven year old Seth (Ryan Devlin), who happens to be her boss’s son. The whole thing is just wrong. The way-younger guy thing for a conservative republican mourning her husband? No, not in character at all. I love Devlin, but he needs to get off the sinking ship and back over to Cougar Town, where he was fantastic. And just where was Kitty’s young son last week while she was in the hotel?

Sarah (Rachel Griffiths) has fared little better. Sure, she’s in a very stable relationship with Luc (Gilles Marini), whose addition to the cast I celebrated. But from the underwear modeling to the zany mishaps in the hotel, they have not been in a good place. And I don’t mean their love hasn’t been solid, it has, but crappy story telling has led them to some bizarre twists that were as unappealing as they were unnecessary.

Honestly, if this is how it’s going to be, the series needs to end. Not as many episodes were ordered this year, so plenty of people think it’s a sign of the writing on the wall. I have adored this series since it’s premiere, and never missed an episode, but the beloved characters are just being ruined at this point. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show I loved so much go to such a bad place. Please, please, just do a series finale this year and put the Walkers out of their misery. Unless they can fix the show, and then at least one more year is needed to wash the bad taste of fall ’05 out of our mouths.

It’s been an entire week since Brothers & Sisters aired their last new episodes, but they will return to their Sunday night slot on January 2nd.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • Sarah

    I agree 100%. The show and characters are no longer recognizable, it is like a completely different show now. It’s really sad. I was wondering if there are new writers now? It’s really disappointing, this was one of my favorite shows ever.

  • Blondie

    I find this season is boring and the homosexual scences are disgusting…the kissing should be deleted, you are jamming homosexuality down our throats..nothing against gays just don’t like watching them making out.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    Aw, now come on. There is heterosexual kissing on TV, and no one complains. You gotta be equal opportunity.

  • David

    So sad – use to love the characters and the smart, funny and sensitive writing of this show. I would never want to miss an episode. Now the characters are not even the same people behaving like whinny idiots. I feel so bad for these amazing actors who are forced to say these inane lines and directed to behave so childishly that I am embarrassed for them. I know the actors are brilliant but the script is crap. Please please please bring back the original writers! Hate to see this beautiful, smart and funny show go down the toilet.