On paper, Brothers looks like a textbook example of a cheesy, formulaic sitcom: Take a celebrity famous for something besides acting (Reba McEntire, Bob Uecker, the Jonas Bros.), put them in a situation where they basically play themselves, and "comedy" will ensue. Former NY Giant Michael Strahan fills that role in Brothers, playing an ex-NFLer who moves back home after losing all of his millions in a bad investment, and while he is certainly no actor, he doesn't really need to be, because he's surrounded by pretty talented -- and funny -- people.
Strahan's brother Chill is played by Daryl "Chill" Mitchell, who's been doing sitcoms since the mid-1980s, mostly playing characters named "Daryl" or "Chill." Mitchell has great timing and delivery, which is fortunate, because his character is paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident a few years ago. CCH Pounder plays the boys' mother and is pretty damn funny, which is surprising, given her serious roles on ER and Warehouse 13. I was expecting her to play the character as sassy and obnoxious, but she's sly and intelligent and goofy. And Carl Weathers is hysterical as the father, "Coach," who has an old man's fascination for a young man's world, the sex drive of a man half his age and a bit of a memory problem. He does look a little bit like a Muppet nowadays, but that only makes him funnier.
The set-up for the series -- that Michael has come home, and Chill needs to boost business at his Michael-themed bar/restaurant -- is flimsy, but makes sense, at least. And while the jokes aren't always home runs, many of them are, and you have to give them credit for the subject matter. Since Chill is in a wheelchair, many of the jokes revolve around that, like Michael telling Chill not to roll up behind him and scare him, or Pounder repeatedly stabbing Chill's leg with a fork, hoping that someday he'll feel it, and denying it when he calls her on it. Even Weather's apparent Alzheimer's (he will often ask the same question twice) gets some laughs. But both ailments are also dealt with touchingly, as Michael and Chill have a heart-to-heart about how Chill blames Michael for his disability, and Pounder shows both sadness and affection when Weathers repeats himself late in the pilot episode. It doesn't hit you over the head with its message, but it does acknowledge that these are both very unfortunate situations, while at the same time mining them for comedy gold -- which is better than treating them entirely as jokes or ignoring them in the name of political correctness.
I'm not saying I'm gonna add the show to my DVR list, but it was certainly entertaining to watch, and you could do much, much worse. Like Hank! Check back later for Angel's review of that nightmare.
Did you watch Brothers? What did you think?
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