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Brothers aired from September until December 2009 on FOX.
BROTHERS was a comedy about a former NFL hot shot who learned that even though you could always go home again, doing so might be more difficult than you think.
MIKE TRAINOR (Michael Strahan) seemingly had it all - he was a good-looking, wealthy and recently retired NFL player living the high life in New York City, but he was about to get sidelined. When Mike got a phone call from his mom, ADELE (CCH Pounder), who ordered him home to Houston, he quickly realized that the more his life had changed, the more his family had stayed the same.
His brother CHILL (Daryl Chill Mitchell), whose life changed drastically after a car accident left him in a wheelchair, was struggling to keep Trainor's, his sports-themed restaurant, afloat. Even though the publicity from his famous brother could have helped his business, Chill didn't want help from Mike. The rivalry between the brothers was exactly the same as they were when they were kids. If they could stop their bickering, put aside their differences and learn to be teammates, Mike and Chill might have just turned out to be each other's biggest asset.
Wedged between Mike and Chill were their parents. Their father, whom everyone refered to as COACH (Carl Weathers), was the local high school football coach and the conservative, opinionated alpha male of his clan. Coach thought he ran the show, but it was actually Adele who called the shots. Saucy, stern and a schemer, she was the mastermind behind this family.
And when she learned that Mike's business manager took off with all his money, she orchestrated a plan to keep Mike in Houston, save Chill's restaurant and bring the family back together under one roof again.
Adele's plan helped Mike realize that his family -- however dysfunctional they may be -- was the only one he had. And although he may not have a penny to his name, as long as he was surrounded by people who loved him, he would always be a rich man.
BROTHERS was 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 served as executive producers. Ted Wass directed the pilot.
A Review from The New York Times
Canned Laughs, Raw Realism
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
Published: September 24, 2009
Adult brothers who squabble like children are a classic element of a family sitcom. Adult brothers who squabble like children, even though one is in a wheelchair, is a sitcom etched in family misfortune.
And that disconcerting mix of canned laughter and raw realism distinguishes Brothers, a new Fox comedy that begins on Friday. It's not always funny, but it can be, at times, remarkably bold.
Michael Strahan, the former New York Giants football star, is cast as a retired N.F.L. star named Mike Trainor, who still locks horns with his brother, Chill, played by Daryl Mitchell, an actor known as Chill who was paralyzed in a car accident in 2001. Chill picks Mike up at the airport in Mike's Bentley, which he modified to suit his disability.
Adjustments? Mike exclaims, as he stares in horror at the dashboard. This used to be a car, now it looks like a cappuccino machine. Laugh track.
Fox is known for cutting-edge comedies, most notably The Simpsons and Arrested Development. Several other series, Malcolm in the Middle and more recently Family Guy and Glee, have supporting characters in wheelchairs. But those seditious satires come in sophisticated wrapping animation or single-camera filming and characters that breach the fourth wall to address the viewer. The soundtracks and cinematic style constantly remind viewers that they are not watching a typical sitcom. Brothers has a laugh track and the kind of one-two punch lines and plot points found on The King of Queens or My Wife and Kids, except that life-altering conditions are neither airbrushed nor central, they are just part of the domestic landscape.
Chill's condition is a subject of jokes, except when it's not, and the same is true of the father's short-term memory loss, severe enough to suggest early-onset Alzheimer's. The father, Coach (Carl Weathers), feels fit and fine, but he has a hard time remembering that he is forgetful.
The balance between humor and pathos is a hard one, and this show teeters on the edge and occasionally falls flat.
The family matriarch, Adele (C C H Pounder of The Shield ) summons Mike home partly because she is concerned about her husband's decline; he tends to repeat the same question a minute after posing it the first time. When Coach discovers another reason for his football prodigy's return Mike's manager absconded with his money he is indignant that he wasn't informed earlier.
Why didn't you tell me that Mike was broke? Coach asks his wife. She snaps back, You would have forgotten in five seconds.
In a different episode Adele fumes at her husband for forgetting her anniversary, a timeworn sitcom predicament that dates back to the days of The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy. Here it has a different twist, but strangely is left dangling, as if the writers forgot Coach's mitigating memory problem. Chill is the most compelling character in the story Mr. Mitchell's jokes, and many are at his own expense, are quicker and sharper, and his delivery is less stagey than those of some of the other actors, who seem to be pacing themselves on a very slow metronome.
Mr. Strahan holds his own, however, and is quite appealing as a well-meaning jock who cannot keep up with his brother's relentless mockery, especially about the gap in his smile. You know what you should do with your two front teeth? Chill says to Michael. Introduce them.
Adele is a classic sitcom matriarch who keeps her sons and husband in line with quelling stares and a scolding vibrato. Ms. Pounder does her best to avoid coming off as Tyler Perry's Madea. Adele is bossy, but quite elegant and proud of her well-preserved looks. Oh God, not a wrinkle, she says, preening into a mirror. Thank God I'm not a white woman.
Adele maintains that she doesn't really believe that Chill is paralyzed; a running joke has her stabbing his leg with a fork to see if he feels anything. But she has moments of maternal eloquence. When Mike says he let his brother win at basketball because he is in a chair, Adele passionately corrects his use of the preposition.
He's not in a chair, she retorts. Now when you are in something, it surrounds you and it controls you you are in the ocean, you are in quicksand, you are in the Republican Party. Adele adds, Now that boy is on that chair, he uses that chair as a tool same way you use your skinny little legs. You don't walk in them, you walk on them.
That is a pretty good description of how Brothers, treats physical handicaps as a fact of life, not a defining ordeal. The show's humor, however, doesn't live up to Fox comedy standards or its own good sense.
Fox, Friday nights at 8, Eastern and Pacific times; 7, Central time. Created by Don Reo; pilot directed by Ted Wass; Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum and Mitch Hurwitz, executive producers. Produced by Tantamount Studios, Impact Zone Productions Inc. and Sony Pictures Television.
WITH: Michael Strahan (Mike Trainor), Daryl Mitchell (Chill), C C H Pounder (Adele) and Carl Weathers (Coach).
An Article from the LA Times
'Brothers' star Daryl 'Chill' Mitchell beats the odds
September 25, 2009|Greg Braxton
Before his world turned upside down nearly eight years ago, Daryl "Chill" Mitchell was on the move, a young actor winning praise with a steady streak of scene-stealing turns in movies and television.
But in November 2001, that momentum was derailed. The 44-year-old actor was injured in a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Although he quickly adapted to life in a wheelchair, his status raised doubts about his acting future.
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These days, Mitchell is back and he's rolling with the punch lines -- literally and figuratively. He is the key comic force behind "Brothers," a new comedy premiering on Fox tonight. His character is named "Chill," a wheelchair-bound owner of a sports bar who was seriously injured in a crash.
The show is driven by the personal tension between Chill and his brother Mike Trainor (Michael Strahan), a retired NFL player who is forced to abandon his expensive lifestyle and move back home with his parents. The two brothers have a love-hate relationship, fueled by insults and Chill's resentment over his brother's indirect involvement in the accident.
"Brothers" has already made its mark on the fall lineup as the only network prime-time live-action series centered around a minority family, and the first ethnic-based sitcom since "The Bernie Mac Show" left Fox in 2006 after five seasons.
Maneuvering around the Sony Studios soundstage in Culver City where the comedy is taped, Mitchell was the series' most energetic cheerleader, continually praising his costars and writers. For him, there's not even a question whether "Brothers" will be a hit.
"When we are successful, bells are going to ring," said Mitchell, a regular in "The John Larroquette Show" from 1993 to 1996. "We're working 100% to make this show as good as we can. I couldn't be more pleased."
"Brothers" is not Mitchell's first post-accident stint. He scored accolades when he co-starred on NBC's "Ed" as the owner of a bowling alley and has appeared on several series, including "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody."
But "Brothers" represents a long-time dream: In addition to starring in the show, he's also a producer and can often be found in the writers' room, hashing out story lines and jokes.
"This is what I've been pushing toward for 20 years -- to produce a show, to be No. 1 on the call sheet for the day," Mitchell said.
He and costar Strahan, who first met several years ago, appear particularly close. "It's so natural between us," said Strahan, a former star defensive end with the New York Giants who retired in 2008. "We really are like brothers. I know he's in that chair, but you don't even notice it after two minutes."
"Brothers" has its share of challenges ahead. Though Fox has a solid comedy base with animated series such as "The Simpsons," "Family Guy" and "American Dad," developing a live-action comedy in the last several years has been more problematic. Several comedies have failed, and "Til Death" has continually struggled since its premiere in 2006.
With its broad humor and constant bickering, "Brothers" is the kind of sitcom that has been largely abandoned by networks in favor of edgier, more sophisticated fare, such as "The Office, "30 Rock" and "Entourage."
Mitchell is also the only cast member with proven comic chops. Strahan, with his gap-toothed smile and warm demeanor, has been engaging as an analyst on "Fox NFL Sunday," but the show is his first acting gig. CCH Pounder ("The Shield") and Carl Weathers ("Rocky") are also more known for their dramatic skills.
"It's not even a problem," Mitchell said. "We click together so well, it feels like we've already been on the air a full season. There's no pressure. This is exactly where we want to be. This show is black to the future, baby!"
"Brothers" executive producer Don Reo, who cast Mitchell as a sarcastic newsstand owner when he produced "The John Larroquette Show in 1993," said he's noticed a change in the actor since the accident.
"Chill seems to be more positive now than he was then, more of a force," said Reo, who is also executive producer of "Til Death." "He's adopted this attitude that should be a lesson to all of us. He always looks at the bright side and refuses to accept limitations."
A Review from the LA Times
'Brothers' on Fox
A new domestic sitcom about two mid-30s siblings forced to move back in with their parents generates some laughs amid the bickering.
September 25, 2009|ROBERT LLOYD, TELEVISION CRITIC
"Brothers," which premieres tonight on Fox, is unusual in a few respects. One of its stars, Daryl "Chill" Mitchell, uses a wheelchair; another, Michael Strahan, was still a professional football player in 2008. It asks Carl Weathers -- Apollo Creed in all those "Rocky" films -- and CCH Pounder, from "The Shield" and many other things, to play comedy. And, perhaps most remarkable, in a new season that seems even more than usually rife with white people, all these actors are black. (Fox has the only other new prime-time series about African Americans -- the "Family Guy" spinoff "The Cleveland Show" -- and even there, the actor who voices the title role is white.)
In most other respects, it is a standard three-camera sitcom, in which two bickering siblings in their mid-30s (Mitchell and Strahan) find themselves back living with their parents (Weathers and Pounder). Which is not to call it run-of-the-mill -- it has some charm and personality and keeps its focus unusually tight on the four principals. There are no wacky neighbors drifting in, or distracting workplace subplots. (Mitchell's character, who is called Chill, owns a restaurant, but it's just another place for him to go at Strahan, who is called Mike.)
Creator Don Reo has had a long career in situation comedy, running back to "MASH" and "Rhoda"; he created the great "The John Laroquette Show," which featured Mitchell, co-created Damon Wayans' "My Wife and Kids" and was an executive producer on "Everybody Hates Chris." And so the show rides comfortably above a baseline of sitcom competence. And the second episode, which immediately follows the pilot tonight, improves encouragingly on the first.
Once you factor out the pilot's worst tics -- the old-folks-getting-busy-while-the-kids-are-out jokes, Weathers' recurring observations on men shaving their pubic hair, and jokes about the gap in Strahan's teeth -- there is much to like; the family dynamic is both spiky and affectionate, without being absurdly dysfunctional or overly sentimental. Pounder is grand in a sweet way, and Weathers (another former football player, here playing a coach) is sweet in a grand way. The second episode also dials down the pilot's portrayal of Weathers as being in what I guess is supposed to be the early stages of dementia; he merely forgets his anniversary, which is situation No. 432 in the TV Comedy Playbook.
Strahan -- who plays a former football player who has lost all his money to a crooked business manager -- is fine, and gets laughs, though he is being carried to a great extent by his cast mates; a whole show peopled only with actors at his skill level would work only as "conceptual" comedy. As the returning son, he is what would traditionally be considered the lead, but comedy-wise, Mitchell (also of "Galaxy Quest," "Veronica's Closet" and "Ed," his first job after losing the use of his legs in a 2001 motorcycle accident) is the dominant brother.
There are, of course, a lot of wheelchair jokes (e.g., "You should put some baseball cards in those spokes so I can hear you coming"). But this is not a show about being disabled. "He's not 'in' a chair," Pounder says of Mitchell. "When you're 'in' something, it's around you and it controls you -- you're 'in' the ocean; you're 'in' quicksand, you're 'in' the Republican Party." Still, she stabs him in the leg with a fork every so often, just testing.
To watch some clips from Brothers go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=brothers+michael+strahan
For the Official Site of Michael Strahan go to http://www.michaelstrahan.com/
� Date: Mon April 26, 2010 � Filesize: 35.0kb � Dimensions: 332 x 386 �
Keywords: Brothers Cast