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Brothers & Sisters on DVD: Season 1 • Season 2 • Season 3

"Brothers and Sisters" The Complete Second Season DVD Review

Buy Brothers & Sisters: The Complete First Season on DVD from Amazon.com Brothers & Sisters: Season Two (2007-08)
Show & DVD Details

Regular Writers: Jon Robin Baitz (creator), David Marshall Grant, Molly Newman, Monica Owusu-Breen / Regular Directors: Michael Morris, Gloria Muzio, Ken Olin, Michael Schultz, David Paymer, Matt Shakman

Starring Cast: Calista Flockhart (Kitty Walker), Rachel Griffiths (Sarah Whedon), Rob Lowe (Robert McCallister), Sally Field (Nora Walker), Matthew Rhys (Kevin Walker), Dave Annable (Justin Walker), Balthazar Getty (Tommy Walker), Ron Rifkin (Saul Holden), Patricia Wettig (Holly Harper), Emily VanCamp (Rebecca Harper), Sarah Jane Morris (Julia Walker)

Recurring Characters: John Pyper-Ferguson (Joe Whedon), Kerris Lilla Dorsey (Paige Whedon), Luke McFarlane (Scotty Wandell), Ken Olin (David Caplan), Eric Winter (Jason McCallister), Danny Glover (Isaac Marshall), Emily Rose (Lena), Steven Weber (Graham Finch), Denis O'Hare (Travis March), Justine Dorsey (Sophie McCallister), Tom Skerritt (William Walker), Parvesh Cheena (Jordan)

Notable Guest Stars: Lyle Lovett (Himself), Chevy Chase (Stan Harris), Garry Marshall (Major Jack Weiner), Al Coronel (Brad), Jim Jansen (Governor Clay Adamson), Alan Toy (Trent), Kevin Daniels (Sam), Tony Devon (Nick Bronson), Andy Mackenzie (Flatline Jack), Dana Lee (Simon Lao), Enrico Colantoni (Evan), Evie Peck (Gail), Jayne Brook (Bertha Wandell), Michael Adler (Doug Manning), Michael O'Keefe (Mr. Wandell), Tom Virtue (Dr. Bob Feldman), Ken Howard (Boyd Taylor)

Running Time: 671 Minutes (16 episodes) / Rating: TV-PG
1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: September 23, 2008
Season 2 Airdates: September 23, 2007 – May 11, 2008
Six single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Suggested Retail Price: $59.99
Eight-sided fold-out Digipak with Cardboard Slipcover

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To ease their upcoming "Separation Anxiety", Kevin, Justin, and Tommy use golfing to find out Isaac's (Danny Glover) intentions for their mother. Graham (Steven Weber) tries to console Sarah (Rachel Griffiths) as she dwells on her family's business future in "Moral Hazard."

Disc 4

13. Separation Anxiety (43:02) (Originally aired April 20, 2008)
The family is shocked when Isaac invites Nora to move with him to Washington D.C. This news distracts the Walkers from Rebecca's birthday, but she has distractions of her own as she suspects David of being her father.

14. Double Negative (43:02) (Originally aired April 27, 2008)
Robert is given the opportunity to run for Vice President
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alongside a candidate who previously backstabbed him. Rebecca finds out the results of her paternity test while the Walkers attend a fundraiser for cancer research.

15. Moral Hazard (43:05) (Originally aired May 4, 2008)
When Saul makes a fatal business decision, Sarah appeals to Tommy to save the business. Justin is mortified when he finds himself attracted to Rebecca.

16. Prior Commitments (42:03) (Originally May 11, 2008)
Kevin and Scotty prepare for their wedding, but when Scotty's parents refuse to attend, Kevin tracks them down. Sarah can't take her mind off of the mysterious baby photo she found and so digs deeper to uncovering the truth.

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Brothers and Sisters" comes to DVD in the 1.78:1 ratio of its high-definition broadcasts, enhanced for widescreen televisions. The transfer delivers precisely what is expected from a new network series. Colors are warm and bright without either blooming or drabness. Some distant shots seem a bit soft, but overall sharpness and detail are solid. Some fine grain appears in what seems to be a stylistic choice, but its inconsistency does raise some eyebrows. Otherwise, the transfers please.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtracks are understandably limited due to the very nature of such a series. Dialogue is king, and utilizes some directional mixing in a clear manner. Surrounds are used mainly for the music which, admittedly, does tend to be a bit distracting. That, however, seems to be more of a personal preference than a mastering error as the tracks do satisfy on the whole.

In this deleted scene, Justin explains to Rebecca how hard it is for him to relive his war experiences over and over again in his mind. Producer David Marshall Grant is impressed by all of the guest appearances he’s managed to nab in the DVD "Guest Book." Food stylist Jessie Sieben shows off one of her many paella dishes in "TV Dinners."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The set comes with a handful of supplements, starting with three audio commentaries. Triple threat director/producer/actor Ken Olin appears with wife/actress Patricia Wettig and actor Matthew Rhys for "Home Front". actors David Annable, Sarah Jane Morris, Emily VanCamp comment on "36 Hours". Finally, for "Prior Commitments", Rhys returns, this time with actor Luke MacFarlane and executive producer Monica Owusu-Breen. All three tracks share similar qualities: they deliver a few pieces of information but are mostly made up of narration, joking commentary, and silence. Thanks to Olin, "Home Front" delivers the most information, but it soon regresses into a baffling potty humor fest instigated by Rhys.

"36 Hours" has a more entertaining, if less informative discussion, but it's marred by too many silent spots. "Prior Commitments" is perhaps the weakest both in terms of information and amusement, mainly due to Owusu-Breen narrating what's happening on screen. As little as gained from them, these commentaries aren't really worth a listen except for die-hard fans.

Finally, the season finale is commented upon by actor Balthazar Getty, Ken Olin, and Sarah Caplan. Their track is a little sillier than the others, with Olin and Getty treating it as a chance to pal around.

Disc Five contains the rest of the supplements, starting with seven deleted scenes (7:36). The most valuable two involve Justin appearing at a school to speak about his war experiences; worth including, they make for good character development. The disposable other scenes simply reiterate what can already be deduced in the actual episodes. Frustratingly, not only is there no commentary accompanying these, but no indication is given as to which episode each scene belongs to.

Next comes the "Guest Book" (14:08), which focuses on some of the second season's guest stars such as Chevy Chase, Garry Marshall, and Danny Glover. Interviews with several cast and crew members are intercut with relevant show footage. It's really glossy and promotional as everyone speaks about how great it is to have so many well-known faces join the show.

Faring better is "TV Dinners: Food from Season 2" (6:19). Food stylist Jessie Sieben talks about the many dishes she makes for the show, such as the prominently-featured paella, and how often the cast members have their own input on the menu selection. Some comments from them are scattered throughout, but the focus is mainly Sieben. This is an interesting featurette that, albeit too short, goes into a production aspect not often touched upon in supplements.

In "Open House", set designer Bryan John Venegas and production designer Denny Dugally explain how the Walker residence is designed to accommodate a prying camera crew. In the outtakes reel, Ron Rifkin and Sally Field are slightly disturbed by the direction to be more intimate when they’re supposed to be siblings. The animated main menu features a montage of scenes done in a photo album format, Saul being the prominent subject here on Disc 2.

"Open House: Designing the 'Brothers and Sisters' Set" (10:10)
is the strongest of the featurette trio. Production designer Denny Dugally and set designer Bryan John Venegas give a tour of the different sets used. Both explain their intentions and stylistic choices as well as what materials go into creating them. Tricks such as furniture sizes and city backdrops are also detailed. It's an enlightening look at both the sets and all the hard work and creativity that goes into them.

The last of the video features is an outtakes reel (4:22). It offers the sort of flubs and giggles one would come to expect, but further amusement is caused by a running joke involving incest between the actors.

There is one more extra, but it's a physical one. An envelope containing Nora's favorite family recipes is included. The concoctions featured are Nora's Mango Peach Salsa, pumpkin pie, Hollandaise Sauce - Walker Style, lasagna, paella, Sarah's Strawberry Shortcake, Rebecca's Pasta, birthday cake, turkey club, and William's Famous Ojai Guacamole. These recipes are a nice addition.

Disc 1 opens with trailers for "Private Practice": The Complete First Season, "Samantha Who?": The Complete First Season, "Grey's Anatomy": The Complete Fourth Season, and "Dirty Sexy Money": The Complete First Season. Disc 5 contains a Sneak Peeks menu with previews for WALL-E, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Miramax Films, and "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Brothers and Sisters" on ABC.

The 16x9 menus are all themed in an elegant photo album manner. The main menu of each disc features a montage of that disc's relevant episodes joined by quiet score. All other menus are similarly themed and feature music, but only the bonus materials menu on disc five has any additional animation.

The discs come housed in an eight-sided Digipak adorned with cast headshots. Disc art features different iconic item (Justin's crutches, Kitty's wedding flowers, etc.). Besides the recipe envelope and cards, a pamphlet advertising other ABC shows is included along with one promoting Blu-ray Discs.

Sarah's (Rachel Griffiths) "Domestic Issues" have taken their toll on daughter Paige (Kerris Lilla Dorsey). Three Walker Brothers heat up the beach in "Double Negative."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Like any television program, "Brothers and Sisters" is a flawed one. The producers milk conflict for all its worth, usually on a repetitious plot device. That said, the strength of the characters and the performers portraying them make up for any shortcomings. This second season set provides the sort of pleasing video and audio one should come to expect by now. The supplements are rather mixed, but at least some effort was obviously put into them. Established fans of the series have no reason not to pick up this set. Those who are new and enjoy either ensemble dramedies or dysfunctional TV families (or both) are encouraged to rent Season One first in order to follow the storylines more clearly. It's a well-made show that merits a look.

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Related Reviews:
Brothers & Sisters: The Complete Third Season • Brothers & Sisters: The Complete First Season
Desperate Housewives: The Complete Second Season • Grey's Anatomy: The Second Season

2007-08 ABC Programming:
Dirty Sexy Money: The Complete First Season • Eli Stone: The Complete First Season • Ugly Betty: The Complete Second Season
Samantha Who?: The Complete First Season • Pushing Daisies: The Complete First Season

New to DVD: Run Fatboy Run • Sex and the City • NewsRadio: The Complete Series • Journey to the Center of the Earth

The Cast of Brothers & Sisters:
Sally Field: Mrs. Doubtfire • The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning | Rachel Griffiths: Step Up • The Rookie | Balthazar Getty: Ladder 49
Steven Weber: Holiday Treats: T.V. Sets (Wings) | Danny Glover: Angels in the Outfield | Tom Skerritt: The Parent Trap II • Those Calloways

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Reviewed October 23, 2008.