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Our reviews of Brothers And Sisters: The Complete First Season (published September 26th, 2007), Brothers And Sisters: The Complete Second Season (published October 30th, 2008), and Brothers And Sisters: The Complete Third Season (published December 23rd, 2009) are also available.
No matter how much life changes, family stays the same.
Question: How much drama can you squeeze out of an ensemble cast that has already been at it for three years?
Answer: With the right actors and writing team, a surprising amount!
Facts of the Case
The Walker family is back with their dysfunctional relationships and unconditional love, so get ready to hold back the tears, hang on for the twists and turns, and prepare for a helping of quirky comedic moments. All 24 episodes of Brothers and Sisters: The Complete Fourth Season are included with this release, spread across six discs, as follows:
I decided not to summarize the episodes for this review, as anyone who saw the season already knows what happened, and I don't want to spoil any big reveals for anyone who might have missed them.
Families have been portrayed on TV since the very beginning. From shows like The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver and My Three Sons to more dramatic series like Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons; viewers have lived vicariously through the joys, sorrow and challenges of on-screen families. This phenomenon has never gone away, persisting through the '70s and '80s with series like All in the Family, Happy Days, Dallas, Knott's Landing and many others. Brothers and Sisters continues that proud tradition, bringing us the trials and tribulations of the Walker clan, both nuclear and extended.
Is there anything new, exciting, controversial or unexplored about this series? Ultimately, no. It covers no new ground, addresses no particularly new taboos, controversial issues, or family skeletons most of us don't already have in our own lives and closets, so what makes the series work? At first glance, the writing, acting and plotlines of Brothers and Sisters seem contrived, sensationalized and overly, well, dramatic. Within most episodes, you're pulled between laughing and crying, feeling tension one minute and moved the next. But as I thought about it more, I quickly realized that the human experience isn't so different. Perhaps that's what keeps us coming back for more with shows like this.
After a somewhat soft third season, Brothers and Sisters wasted no time in returning to its tried and true strengths, focusing more of the plotlines closer to the Walker family and their ample volume of psychiatric and dysfunctional fodder. Season Four deals head on with cancer, adoption, marriages under pressure, infidelity, careers and a whole host of other topics that many of us have faced or will face at some point in our lives. It's a testament to the series that after having it drop off our weekly viewing roster for more than two seasons, my wife and me were able to get back into the show's groove and appeal after just a few episodes. Sure, there's enough drama in everyday life without adding more into our leisure lives, but isn't it just a tad appealing to trade your own problems for someone else's for 44 minutes each week, even if they are a fictional character?
Brothers and Sisters: The Complete Fourth Season looks and sounds great on DVD, so much so that at times, this feels like an almost HD experience. Image detail is sharp throughout and the series' trademark warm color palette is reproduced faithfully. It's not often that a TV series' music stands out to me so strongly and my hat is off to composer Blake Neely, who also contributed to Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer's work on the Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, for weaving a musical tapestry that's as rich as the other elements of the series without becoming overpowering. The music, dialog and other sound elements are all perfectly in balance, drawing you in, without being distracting or overly sentimental.
This release includes more than you'll find on many full-season TV releases: there's an ample assortment of deleted scenes included on each disc, showcasing some strong character work and touching moments; the requisite blooper reel makes an appearance; "The Red Carpet" joins the cast and crew at their Season Four premier party, letting their hair down and having some fun; and "Off the Clock" shows the Brothers and Sisters family as they showcase their off-hours talents at an art opening, playing on the series' softball team and competing together in a triathlon. The only thing that's missing here is some solid commentary tracks to really have hit this one out of the park.
Be warned: when you're planning to curl up on the couch with Brothers and Sisters: The Complete Fourth Season, bring Kleenex, and plenty of it. I'm not afraid to say that the season had me shedding more than just a few man tears and to me, that's the sign of two things: a strong cast of gifted actors and an equally skilled writing staff who knows their characters well and deliver on what their loyal viewers expect.
Brothers and Sisters seems to have regained its footing, bouncing back from a less than stellar third season. While the cast has changed here and there over the years, the core group has remained the same and they, along with the series' strong writing team, are what makes the show a joy to watch. If you enjoy a solid dramatic series with a dash of the familial and a pinch of laughter, give it a spin.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ABC Studios
• Deleted Scenes
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