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Brothers & Sisters (2006)
A Tremendously Entertaining Dramedy About Life, Love, and Family
"Brothers & Sisters" follows the lives of five adult siblings (Calista Flockhart, Rachel Griffiths, Balthazar Getty, Matthew Rhys, and Dave Annable) and their newly widowed mother (the magnificent Sally Field) after the unexpected death of the family patriarch in the first episode. The series explores what it means to be in a close-knit family in modern times, the difficulties and joys that come with being human, and the importance of unconditional love and support.
The cast is superb, particularly Field, who is a powerhouse as the middle-aged mother and grandmother Nora, who is trying to find herself after her husband's death brings to light years of his lies and indiscretions. Field is required to play the whole gamut of intense emotions and she nails it all flawlessly. Hers is an emmy worthy performance. Matthew Rhys, a relative unknown in the United States, is a revelation as gay lawyer brother Kevin.
The series is family drama at its brilliant best. American politics influence this family, as Flockhart's Kitty is a right-wing pundit involved with a Republican Presidential hopeful. The show is up to the minute topical as brother Justin (Annable) is being called back to Iraq, and Kevin is furious at Kitty's involvement with an anti-gay politician. The Walkers are a family situated in today's America. "Brothers & Sisters" is like holding up a mirror to life-to the strained and crazy dynamics of family, to hopes, dreams, disappointments and heartaches, and ultimately to healing and forgiveness. "Brothers & Sisters" is my favorite show, one to cherish and enjoy.
The Family Stone (2005)
Touching, Funny Comedy-Drama About The Ties That Bind
"The Family Stone" is one of my favorite movies-a touching, funny comedy-drama about family, love, and acceptance. The film is not afraid to be unique and original as it mines the complexities of family togetherness and the petty resentments that emerge among tight-knit adult siblings, their parents, and the "outsider", the oldest son's chilly, uptight girlfriend, played in an inspired, award-nominated performance by Sarah Jessica Parker. Her struggle to gain the acceptance and respect of the family Stone provides the setup for the story in which she, the Stone parents(the wonderful Diane Keaton as the outspoken mother and Craig T. Nelson as the quiet, compassionate father),and their five adult children (Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, Rachel Mc Adams, Ty Giordano, and Elizabeth Reaser)spend three eventful days together over Christmastime. In these three days, characters grow, bonds are reaffirmed, and secrets are revealed as Meredith and the Stones learn some powerful lessons about forgiveness and the healing power of love.
The "Family Stone" is by turns both hilarious and achingly poignant, both because of its pitch perfect observations of family dynamics. Parker's performance is the true standout, but there is not a weak link in the entire cast, with Keaton having one particularly powerful moment when affirming her love and acceptance to her gay son.
"The Family Stone" is a rare find amidst the mindless eye candy that characterizes most studio films these days. It is a film unafraid to show adults loving together, growing together, and standing with each other in times of sorrow and joy.
A Very Brady Christmas (1988)
Without Question The Best Reunion Movie Ever
Christmastime just isn't complete for me without watching this movie. The Brady family reuniting for the holidays always produces warm fuzzies for me. The original show was cheesy and so is this reunion movie, but it is also surprisingly well acted by every member of the ensemble cast and hits upon some real truths about family togetherness. Jennifer Runyon seamlessly fills the shoes of Susan Olsen in this yuletide gathering, Maureen McCormick is as beautiful as ever, and Florence Henderson is still the sunniest and most perky television mom around. A TV movie can get away with being sappy if it's focused around Christmas, and this movie succeeds on every level as a feel-good holiday reunion film.
An underrated gem-too good for the WB!
"Everwood" is far and away the best show ever to have been on the WB, and is probably the best show currently on television. It deserved a slew of Emmy nominations this year that it didn't receive because the Academy has an anti-WB bias. It's a shame,because if the Academy were to pay the show some mind, they would find it's the most tender, touching, and achingly real family drama since "Once and Again". Amy's depression and the way it slowly started to tear apart the Abbott family was one of the most powerful story lines I have ever seen on any show, thanks in large part to Tom Amandes, Merrilyn Gann, Emily Van Camp, and Chris Pratt, who play the Abbotts with such passion and energy. It's a shame this show doesn't get the attention and recognition it deserves. It's a real treasure.
Once and Again (1999)
My Favorite Show Of All Time
"Once and Again" is an absolute treasure of a show. I could not be more amazed at the incredible acting from every member of the talented cast, the stellar writing,and the perfect pacing. This show was criminally ignored at the Emmys and that is a shame because I believe that this is easily the best family drama of all time, if not the best drama series of all time. It is certainly my favorite show of all time. Every single actor gave consistently brilliant performances week after week, with the standouts being Susanna Thompson, a totally underrated actress, and the lovely Evan Rachel Wood, who has more talent in her left pinky finger than Hillary Duff has at all. I miss this show, but I will always treasure the three amazing seasons we had of it!
My Very Favorite Sitcom of All Time
"Friends" may not be the best sitcom of all time, but it is still my favorite. The cast's chemistry is unmatched, and the talent of each one of them is great, with Jennifer Aniston looking like the friend most likely to be a superstar of a Julia Roberts level. The show was the definitive view of "friends as family". All of these characters had family members, but they found their ultimate support system in each other. I also believe the finale did the show justice, and I give it credit for wrapping up all the stories,and giving audiences an emotional payoff,without being overblown. "Friends" is and always will be my very favorite sitcom of all time.