Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fox Fall Pilot Review - Brothers - Premieres September 25; WGN America Punk'd Us, No Punk'd

Brothers

Brothers - Fridays 8:00PM ET/PT on Fox
Premieres Friday, September 25, 2009 at 8:00-9:00PM ET/PT

BROTHERS is a comedy about a former NFL hot shot who learns that even though you can always go home again, doing so might be more difficult than you think.

MIKE TRAINOR (Michael Strahan) seemingly has it all - he's a good-looking, wealthy and recently retired NFL player living the high life in New York City, but he's about to get sidelined. When Mike gets a phone call from his mom, ADELE (CCH Pounder), who orders him home to Houston, he quickly realizes that the more his life has changed, the more his family has stayed the same.

His brother CHILL (Daryl Chill Mitchell), whose life changed drastically after a car accident left him in a wheelchair, is struggling to keep Trainor's, his sports-themed restaurant, afloat. Even though the publicity from his famous brother might help business, Chill doesn't want help from Mike. The rivalry between the brothers is exactly the same as they were when they were kids. If they can stop their bickering, put aside their differences and learn to be teammates, Mike and Chill might just turn out to be each other's biggest asset.

Wedged between Mike and Chill are their parents. Their father, whom everyone refers to as COACH (Carl Weathers), is the local high school football coach and the conservative, opinionated alpha male of his clan. Coach thinks he runs the show, but it's actually Adele who calls the shots. Saucy, stern and a schemer, she is the mastermind behind this family.

And when she learns that Mike's business manager took off with all his money, she orchestrates a plan to keep Mike in Houston, save Chill's restaurant and bring the family back together under one roof again.

Adele's plan helps Mike realize that his family -- however dysfunctional they may be -- is the only one he's got. And although he may not have a penny to his name, as long as he's surrounded by people who love him, he'll always be a rich man.

BROTHERS is created by Don Reo and produced by Tantamount Studios and Impact Zone Productions, Inc. in association with Sony Pictures Television. Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum, Mitch Hurwitz and Don Reo serve as executive producers. Ted Wass directed the pilot written by Don Reo.

Cast Details:

* Michael Strahan as Mike Trainor
* Daryl Chill Mitchell as Chill Trainor
* CCH Pounder as Adele Trainor
* Carl Weathers as 'Coach' Trainor

Michael Strahan (Mike Trainor) - Super Bowl Champion and Fox NFL Sunday co-host Michael Strahan retired from football in 2007 after completing 15 seasons with the New York Giants and leading the team to their dramatic Super Bowl victory over the previously unbeaten New England Patriots. Strahan had an outstanding final season and lead one of the top defenses in the league. In 2005, he was among the league's leaders in total sacks, and earned his seventh trip to the Pro Bowl. In 2001, Strahan completed what is widely considered to be one of the greatest seasons ever for a defensive player. As the charismatic leader of the New York Giants, Strahan was named the 2001 NFL Player of the Year by Sports Illustrated and the Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press. He was also one of only four players to lead the NFL in sacks for two seasons.

Strahan's additional television credits include Pros vs. Joes, which pits amateur contestants against professional athletes in a series of athletic challenges; the family-oriented cable series "Backyard Stadiums," where he and his co-host visited various neighborhoods to build batting cages, putting greens and outdoor recreational centers. He also hosted "Sack and Renovate," giving viewers an inside look at the renovation of his 100-year-old home and revealing his own passion for antiques.

Daryl Chill Mitchell (Chill Trainor) was born in Bronx, NY, and grew up on Long Island with his five brothers and three sisters. Mitchell first garnered public attention as a member of the rap group Groove B Chill. The Hudlin Brothers, who directed one of Groove B Chill's videos, cast the group in the 1990 feature film House Party, where Mitchell had the opportunity to work alongside Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell. He enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to turn his focus from music to acting.

Mitchell followed House Party with appearances in the feature films Boomerang, House Party 2, Sgt. Bilko and Home Fries. His more recent films include The Outside Man opposite Denzel Washington, 10 Things I Hate About You, Galaxy Quest, Lucky Numbers, Black Knight and The Country Bears. His television credits include The John Larroquette Show, Veronica's Closet, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Law & Order, The Cosby Show, Here and Now, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and I'm With Stupid. In November 2001, Mitchell was temporarily sidelined by a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. However, it never halted his momentum, and once he was in control of his wheelchair, Mitchell went back to work as a series regular on the series Ed. Mitchell's character, Eli, was known for using the phrase "Roll...or fold," and Mitchell adopted that saying to express his take on life.

CCH Pounder (Adele Trainer) - Award-winning actress CCH Pounder has earned a long list of credits and accolades throughout a career that spans nearly three decades. Most recently, Pounder appeared in the feature film Orphan and the sci-fi television series Warehouse 13. Other recent credits include the cable series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and the independent feature Rain, which garnered praise at the Los Angeles Pan-African Film Festival.

For seven years, Pounder portrayed "Det. Claudette Wyms" on the critically acclaimed series The Shield, a role that earned her an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, 10 NAACP Image Award nominations for Best Actress in a Drama Series, the Minorities in Business Prism Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Drama, two Golden Satellite Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama Series, the Genii Excellence in TV Award from the Southern California Chapter of American Women in Radio and Television and the LOOP Award from Lupus LA. Pounder's other honors include Emmy nominations for Best Supporting Actress for her role as "Dr. Angela Hicks" on ER and for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her work on The X-Files. In addition, Pounder earned a Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word Album for Grow Old Along With Me: The Best Is Yet to Come, and she won an AUDI, the Audio Publishers Association's top honor, for the album Women in the Material World.

Carl Weathers ('Coach' Trainor) was born in New Orleans and attended San Diego State University, where he established himself as a football star. After graduating in 1970, Weathers played professional football as a free agent for the Oakland Raiders, as well as the Canadian Football League's B.C. Lions. He retired from the sport in 1974 in order to turn his attention to acting.

Weathers' big break came when he was cast to play the iconic role of "Apollo Creed" in the film Rocky and reprised the role in Rocky II, Rocky III and Rocky IV. His additional film credits include Predator opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, Happy Gilmore opposite Adam Sandler, Action Jackson, The Comebacks, Force 10 from Navarone, Death Hunt and The Sasquatch Gang. Weathers' television film appearances include The Defiant Ones (which he also co-produced), Shadow Warriors, OP Center and The Hostage Heart. His TV series credits include Arrested Development, The Shield, In the Heat of the Night, Street Justice, Fortune Dane (which he also executive-produced), McCloud, Starsky and Hutch, S.W.A.T., Tour of Duty, Good Times, Barnaby Jones, Kung Fu, The Six Million Dollar Man and The Streets of San Francisco.

Pilot Plot:

I received the first two episodes for review.

#1 Pilot (Airs September 25)
Mike Trainor seemingly has it all he's a good-looking, wealthy and recently retired NFL player living the high life in New York City. With one phone call from his mom, Adele, Mike's life changes in an instant. He comes home to Houston to find that his brother Chill, whose life changed drastically after a car accident left him in a wheelchair, is struggling to keep his restaurant afloat and that his father's memory is not as sharp as it used to be. When Adele reveals everyone's secrets, the family decides it's time for a fresh start.
Directed by Ted Wass
Written by Don Reo

#2 House Rules/Anniversary (Airs September 25)
Mike's date spends the night at his parents' place propelling his mom, Adele, to set specific house rules for her very grown sons. As all the family members try to find their way living together again as adults, Mike and Chill are taken aback at their new assigned daily chores and strict limitations on overnight guests. Meanwhile, Coach forgets his and Adele's anniversary and lands in the doghouse, forcing him to come up with a creative way to make it up to her.
Guest Cast: Jazsmin Lewis as Monica; Shvona Lavette as Janine

Analysis:

This is Fox's only new live-action comedy and the only African-American sitcom currently on broadcast tv. It's a multi-camera comedy that is filmed in front of a studio audience. It will air on Friday nights at 8:00pm ET/PT.

In the "Pilot" episode, we are introudced to the Trainor family. Chill goes to pick up his brother at the airport. Mike talks to 'Coach' in the basement. Mike and Chill play some basketball in wheelchairs. Adele asks Mike to make a special appearance at Chill's restaurant. There are some serious talks between various family members. There's a nice mix of humor and heartwarming moments in the pilot.

The second episode, "House Rules/Anniversary," isn't quite as funny as the pilot. It opens with a scene at The Gutter bowling alley. Mike meets Monica who gives him some bowling shoes. Adele and Chill are shocked when they see Monica at the fridge dressed only in a football jersey. This casues Adele to set some house rules. Mike is embarrassed to tell Janice that he is living with his mama. Carl plays some foosball with Carl and Mike in the game room. Coach forgets that it's his wedding anniversary and Adele is not very happy about it. He creatively makes it up to her.

Houston is the location of the show, although you really wouldn't know it by watching the first couple of episodes. They probably could use some more exterior shots or references to the city. The house looks quite nice and the sets are spacious. It just seemed unusual that they have such a small kitchen table in an otherwise large kitchen. Carl has a nice game roon with green carpeting that has yard markers like a football field. The Trainor's set looks your typical bar/resturant with a large photo of Strahan in his football uniform.

Conclusion:

This show looks pretty funny from the first couple of episodes, especially the pilot. Michael Strahan has some natural instincts and on-screen charisma. He is basically playing himself on the series. Comedic timing isn't always easy, but he appears to have it down already. Daryl Chill Mitchell brings over 20 years of comedy experience and has some funny scenes. CCH Pounder is not known for comedy, but she really steals the show with some hilarious lines. She reminds me a bit of Jo Marie Payton from Family Matters. Her character is very strong and brings an authoritative presence to the show. Carl Weathers is known for more serious and action-oriented roles, but he has shown he can do comedy from his appearances on Arrested Development. The cast certainly seems like they have some good chemistry and act like they are a real family.

The show is airing on Friday nights at 8pm ET/PT. I don't think there will be as much pressure on it airing on that night in that time slot. Fox NFL Sunday has given this show a lot of promotion. I'm sure we will be seeing the gang from that show making guest appearances at some point in the season. Kim Kardashian and Mike Tyson will also be guest starring. There are quite a few jokes about Michael Strahan's teeth, Chill's wheelchair and handicap, white people, Coach's memory problems and references to the Rocky franchise in the first few episodes. They are funny in these episodes, but will they get old in later episodes? I guess they won't soon run out of material and can get creative to work these types of jokes in each episode. I think they will need to develop some better storylines in future episodes instead of just randomly tossing in the jokes. If you need some good laughs and occasional warmth, the show is definitely worth checking out on Friday nights.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funniness: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 09/24/09

Discuss the show after you watch it on Friday, September 25 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • FOX.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Brothers Photo Gallery


  • Preview:




    Now back to some news! Last month we gave you WGN America's fall schedule, they made a minor change to this. Punk'd was set to launch this week at 5am, but was replaced by Funniest Pets & People...but that delay was only supposed to be a week for Punk'd. Now WGN America has "punk'd" America (ha!) by not going to air it at all! Effective Monday, Sept. 28 America's Funniest Home Videos will air in the 4am ET hour (Mon-Wed) and Reno 911 will air Tues-Fri (and Sundays as planned) at 5am. Toni On! New York will air at 5am on Mondays. Punk'd was also scheduled to air Thursdays at 9pm ET following WWE Superstars, but now we get America's Funniest Home Videos instead. The same goes true for Sundays at 11am ET, with AFV instead of Punk'd. We are not sure what happened with Punk'd, maybe Ashton planned this?
    View the full WGN America Fall 2009 schedule by Sept. 28.
    And stay tuned in the coming weeks for more WGN America news, including classic TV marathons for the major holidays this holiday season starting with Halloween!


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    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 16)

    Thursday, July 19

    • Jim Gaffigan (The Jim Gaffigan Show/My Boys/Welcome to New York) - Catch Jim on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. He will also be on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo, Access Live (check your local listings) and on People Now on PeopleTV at 12pm.
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    • Constance Zimmer (Entourage/Good Morning, Miami) - Constance drops by LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
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