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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Brothers and Sisters - The Complete First Season
Brothers and Sisters - The Complete First Season
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // Unrated // September 18, 2007
List Price: $59.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted September 10, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The First Season

Brothers & Sisters is a television drama that first aired on ABC in fall 2006. The show is about the drama surrounding the Walker family after the death of the head of the family. Its strengths come in several forms, which include its stellar cast, excellent writing, intriguing storylines, and nonstop drama. It only takes a single episode to get hooked. If you enjoy soapy-dramas that feel rich and mature, then Brothers & Sisters will be right up your alley.

The Walker family is a non-typical Californian family. The head of the family, William (Tom Skerritt) is a successful businessman. Many years ago, William started the company Ojai Foods, which grew into one of the region's most successful produce distributors. Since, the company's inception, his children have come to work for the company. William is married to Nora (Sally Field). She is a loving mother and strong-willed wife. William and Nora have several children that include Sarah (Rachel Griffiths), Kitty (Calista Flockhart), Tommy (Balthazar Getty), Kevin (Matthew Rhys), and Justin (Dave Annable). In the beginning of the series, William passes away and the Walker family's lives change forever.

Sarah is an educated woman who had a successful career in advertising. She left her job to work in the family business. In accordance with her father's will, she was made president of Ojai Foods. She struggles to run the family business and manage her home life. She is married to Joe Whedon (John Pyper-Ferguson) and has three children. Kitty is somewhat displaced from the family. Prior to her father's death, she lived in New York and worked on a political radio show. She left California because she wanted to get away and be on her own. She has an unhealthy relationship with Nora, which is repaired during the season. Tommy is the Walker child who has stood by his father's business. He has made his entire career supporting and running Ojai Foods. He is taken amiss when he learns that Sarah will be president. Tommy also faces problems when he and his wife try to have children.

Kevin is a young and determined individual. He is a lawyer and supports the Walker family business in all of its legal endeavors. He is a homosexual and his romantic relationships throughout the season are at the fore. He is also very politically liberal and butts heads with his conservative sister Kitty. Justin is the youngest Walker and a drug addict. After the tragic event of 9/11, Justin felt it was his duty to do something about it, especially since his beloved sister Kitty was at the heart of the terrible incident. He enlisted in the Army, despite his mother's disapproval, and was deployed overseas as a medic. When he came back, he developed a substance abuse problem. His decision to join the Army was in part due to Kitty's support, which is the reason behind the rift in the Kitty-Nora relationship.

Joining the Walkers are several other characters. Saul Holden (Ron Rifkin) is Nora's brother. He works at Ojai and has sacrificed a lot to support the Walker family. He is not married and without children. He treats his nieces and nephews as his own. Holly Harper (Patricia Wettig) is woman who until William's death was unknown to the rest of the family. For many years, Holly was William's mistress. Upon Wiliam's death, she finds her life is tightly intertwined with the Walkers. This tie is very apparent when Holly's daughter Rebecca (Emily VanCamp) develops a strong interest in the family.

For the most part, the season one storylines focus on the aftermath of William's death and how it affects everyone--from the wife to the children to the mistress to the company. Some of the more intriguing plotlines include Nora coming to terms with Holly's role in William's life, Justin (with the support of his family) overcoming his drug addiction and getting called to Iraq, Holly becoming a strength in Ojai and a permanent fixture in the Walker's lives, Kitty developing a relationship with Senator Robert McCallister (Rob Lowe); both professionally and romantically, and the various mysteries surrounding William that affect the Walkers in every aspect.

These storylines are small examples of the high quality drama that the show has to offer. The season is full of additional plotlines that help keep it engaging and entertaining. The characters are also an important strength of the show. Individually, they are complex characters and developed very well throughout the season. The writing handles it in such a way that it is really easy to fall in love with the cast and feel for them as individuals. In addition, each performer handles their role with proficiency.

Overall, Brothers & Sisters' first season is a compelling drama that does not fail to deliver. The show has a well-rounded and experienced cast, whose performances are excellent, and topnotch writing with witty and fun dialogue and dramatic storylines that will leave you smiling, laughing, and appreciating the intricate dynamic of the Walker family. As for the season one DVD set, it comes highly recommended.

Episode Guide

1. Patriarchy: Kitty Walker (Calista Flockhart) returns home to California after having been estranged from her mother (Sally Field) for three years. Meanwhile, William Walker (Tom Skerritt) brings Sarah (Rachel Griffiths) into the family business, where she soon discovers some glaring financial discrepancies that could undermine the Walker family's way of life.
2. An Act of Will: The Walker family is forced to deal with the shock of William's death and the reading of William Walker's will, which threatens to cause a rift in the family.
3. Affairs of State: William Walker's indiscretions are made painfully public, and Nora reveals that she's not as naive as her family has always believed. Meanwhile, the Walker siblings all feel the burden of their own secrets.
4. Family Portrait: Kitty finds herself torn between two men, Justin's new job is more than he bargained for, and Sarah and Joe face their greatest challenge yet as parents.
5. Date Night: Nora makes an embarrassing attempt to move on with her life, and her date with a younger man is marred by several surprises. Meanwhile, Kitty initiates a very awkward double date.
6. For the Children: The most private personal and business struggles of the Walker family are exposed in a very embarrassing public forum.
7. Northern Exposure: Kitty and Warren's quiet weekend in the country turns out to be anything but quiet, while Tommy and Julia, unable to conceive, consider unorthodox alternatives.
8. Mistakes Were Made, Part 1: Justin is shaken to the core and his resolve to stay clean is weakened by a disturbing letter that could dramatically alter his future.
9. Mistakes Were Made, Part 2: Sarah, Tommy and Kevin hit the road in search of William's lost treasure and discover his most shocking secret, and Justin returns from the hospital and makes a startling revelation about his enlistment.
10. Light the Lights: Sarah, Tommy and Saul make a crucial misstep in their approach to retrieve funds to save the family's business, and Nora overcompensates for the family's loss for the holidays.
11. Family Day: The Walker family airs its dirty laundry in Justin's rehab group therapy session, and Kitty considers a tantalizing proposition from Senator McCallister.
12. Sexual Politics: Kevin falls for a soap opera actor (guest starring Jason Lewis as Chad Berry) who is confused about his own sexuality. Meanwhile, Kitty and Nora dearly regret being sucked in by the sales pitch of an executive matchmaker.

13. Something Ida This Way Comes: Nora and Saul's not-so-loving mother, Ida (guest starring Marion Ross), makes an unwelcome visit to celebrate a milestone in her daughter's life.
14. Valentine's Day Massacre: Nora has a Valentine's Day dinner with a friend and takes a risky ride that could land her in trouble. Margot Kidder guest stars as Emily Craft.
15. Love is Difficult: Some intel from the office staff may sway Kitty's vote about her future with Senator McCallister. Meanwhile, Sarah and Joe dive further into therapy (guest starring Joel Gray as Dr. Jude Bar-Shalom), and Tommy has a chance encounter with a distant relative that will change everything for the Walker family.
16. The Other Walker: News of William Walker and Holly Harper's illegitimate daughter, Rebecca, shakes the Walker family to the core.
17. All in the Family: In an effort to restore life to normalcy, Nora invites her deceased husband's illegitimate daughter to a family dinner and has a romantic encounter with her college professor (guest starring Peter Coyote as Mark August). Meanwhile, Senator McCallister makes a surprising introduction.
18. Three Parties: Nora's romantic life takes an upturn when her troublemaking friend convinces her to take a chance with her professor. Meanwhile, Chad comes to terms with his sexuality at Kevin's expense and Justin steps up to protect his half-sister.
19. Game Night: The Walkers challenge their all-too-perfect lifelong nemesis family, the Jones, to a long overdue game night rematch and cautiously begin to embrace Rebecca as their sister. Meanwhile, Kitty soon regrets introducing Kevin to the Senator's brother.
20. Bad News: Sarah finds it very difficult to get past her husband's alleged indiscretions with another woman, and Kitty and Robert reach an impasse as the shock of the tragic accident sinks in.
21. Grapes of Wrath: A celebration of Tommy's new business venture turns to chaos, and Nora takes Holly to task when she gets just a bit too close.
22. Favorite Son: Tommy and Julia have to make a life and death decision for their newborn twins, while Sarah and Joe come to grips with the fate of their marriage, and an unlikely candidate helps Justin face his impending future as he prepares to leave his family to go off to war.
23. Matriarchy: As Justin counts the days and hours until his return to active duty in the army and readies himself to go to war, he reaches out to everyone in the family individually, trying to spend time with all of them. Nora plans an engagement party for Kitty, who announces her plans to move out of the house. At the engagement party we meet more McCallister relatives and learn more about Saul's secret romantic life, as Sarah tries to come to terms with her marriage and where it's headed.

The DVD

Video:
The video in this release is given in anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color format. The picture quality is quite good. It suffers from a slight grain, but detail remains to be sharp and clear. However, there are some occasional moments when the picture suffers compression artifacts. This is a rare occurrence, but it does happen. Needless to say, the show should look good on bigger television sets.

Audio:
The audio in this release is given in English 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound. Overall, the sound quality is very good, providing an audible and clean audio track. The majority of activity is in the forward channels, but there is decent use of the surround sound capability. Music and sound effects sound very rich and vibrant.

There are subtitles in English, French, and Spanish. There is also support for closed captioning.

Extras:
Brothers & Sisters: The Complete First Season comes with a decent array of extras. There are four audio commentaries, a deleted and unaired episode, a couple featurettes, and a bloopers reel. Here is the breakdown:

  • Audio Commentary: There are four audio commentaries included for episodes "Affairs of State" with Jon Robin Baitz, Craig Wright, Patricia Wettig, and Matthew Rhys, "Northern Exposure" with Jon Robin Baitz, David Marshall Grant, and Molly Newman, "The Other Walker" with Alison Schapker, Monica Breen, Marc Guggenheim, David Annable, and Emily VanCamp, and "Matriarchy" with Ken Olin, Sarah Caplan, and Balthazar Getty.
  • Creating the Walker Family Tree (29:01): is a featurette about the show. It stars Ken Olin, Jon Robin Baitz, Michael Morris, Greg Berlanti, Molly Newman, Sherri Cooper-Landsman, David Marshall Grant, Marc Guggenheim, Monica Breen, Alison Schapker, Cliff Olin, Peter Calloway, Matthew Rhys, Rob Lowe, Calista Flockhart, Sarah Caplan, Ron Rifkin, Suzanne Geiger, Sarah Jane Morris, Rachel Griffiths, Sally Field, Sparky Hawes, Patricia Wettig, John Pyper-Ferguson, Balthazar Getty, Dave Annable, Emily VanCamp, and Peter Coyote. The discussion focuses on the show's conception, writing, crew, directors, cast, and some additional thoughts.
  • Behind the Scenes with the Brothers (6:14): is a behind the scenes featurette with Matthew Rhys, Dave Annable, and Balthazar Getty. It details the relationship the three have developed off- and on-stage. The featurette follows the three actors acting silly on stage, in make-up & wardrobe, the writing offices (with Jon Robin Baitz), the dressing room, and a couple other places. Unless you are really interested in seeing a playful side of Rhys, Annable, and Getty, there isn't much to it.
  • Bloopers and Outtakes (2:29): is a series of goofs during filming. The problem is that the outtakes/bloopers are not very funny.
  • The Deleted Episode: "State of the Parties" with introduction (42:50): This episode was created and intended to be the show's second episode. For reasons discussed in the episode introduction with Jon Robin Baitz, it was cut.
  • The Family Business (4:35): is an interview featurette that includes Roxy Olin, Cliff Olin, Patricia Wettig, Ken Olin, Sparky Hawes, Rob Lowe, Balthazar Getty, and Greg Berlanti. The topic of discussion is about the irony that Brothers & Sisters is a show about family and how some of the show's core is the Olin family, who support the show as cast and crew.

Final Thoughts:
Brothers & Sisters is a television drama about the Walker family and the drama that follows after the death of the head of the family. The show has a large ensemble cast and handles its content very well by developing the individual characters and their relationships with each other as they deal with their various life changes. It is nonstop melodrama that feels like a soap opera, but still very rich and mature. The writing is topnotch and will peak your interest with new developments and hook you with its very likeable cast. In the end, Brothers & Sisters: The Complete First Season is a great investment and a show you should not miss out on. It comes highly recommended.

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