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

"Brothers and Sisters" The Complete Third Season DVD Review

Buy Brothers and Sisters: The Complete First Season on DVD from Amazon.com Brothers & Sisters: Season Three (2008-09)
Show & DVD Details

Regular Writers: Jon Robin Baitz (creator), David Marshall Grant, Molly Newman, Monica Owusu-Breen, Sherri Cooper, Jennifer Levin, Liz Tigelaar, Josh Reims, Nancy Won, Michael Foley, Cliff Olin, Peter Calloway / Regular Directors: Tucker Gates, Laura Innes, Gloria Muzio, Michael Schultz, Chad Lowe, Michael Owen Morris, Karen Gaviola, Tom Amandes, Ken Olin

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), Luke McFarlane (Scotty Wandell), Sarah Jane Morris (Julia Walker)

Recurring Characters: Ken Olin (David Caplan), Luke Grimes (Ryan Lafferty), Nigel Havers (Roger Grant), Sonja Sohn (Trish Evans), Eric Christian Olsen (Kyle DeWitt), Will McCormack (Ethan Tavis), Mitch Pileggi (Browne Carter), Matt Letscher (Alec), Kerris Lilla Dorsey (Paige Whedon), Maxwell Perry Cotton (Cooper Whedon)

Notable Guest Stars: Steven Weber (Graham Finch), Jason Lewis (Chad Barry), Dave Foley (Paul), Cristian de la Fuente (Cal), Tom Skerritt (William Walker), Michele Greene (Governor Kern), Andrea Grano (Barbara Whitaker), Kaitlin Doubleday (Chelsea Yeager), John Glover (Henry Mittner), Regis Philbin (Himself), Kelly Ripa (Herself)

Running Time: 1032 Minutes (24 episodes) / Rating: TV-PG
1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
DVD Release Date: September 1, 2009
Season 3 Airdates: September 28, 2008 May 10, 2009
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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As Kyle (Eric Christian Olsen) listens on, Rebecca (Emily VanCamp) expresses how much she wishes Justin could devote as much time to her as he does to his AA duties. Nora (Sally Field) consoles Ryan (Luke Grimes) as he tries to put together the pieces of his past.

Disc 4

13. It's Not Easy Being Green (43:09) (Originally aired January 18, 2009)
To celebrate the launch of Greenatopia, the Walkers throw a grand social gathering.
Here, Sarah, Nora, and Rebecca all go through an emotional roller coaster of an evening.

14. Owning It (42:58) (Originally aired February 8, 2009)
Kitty is offered a job as a school principal, but it's difficult for her to process when Nora throws her a lavish baby shower. Rebecca notices something amiss with a deal Tommy recently approved of.

15. Lost & Found (42:35) (Originally aired February 15, 2009)
Nora and Ryan finally meet, and she persuades him to come back home with her. Holly figures out Tommy's plan and is grimly determined to put a stop to it.

16. Troubled Waters Part 1 (43:09) (Originally aired March 1, 2009)
Trish, the birth mother of Kitty and Robert's child, goes into labor, but Robert is tied up at a press event. Rebecca tracks down her father David in New York in order to get advice for her situation.

A recuperating Robert (Rob Lowe) holds his son Evan for the first time. Holly (Patricia Wettig) and David (Ken Olin) listen as Rebecca shares her concerns about Tommy's latest business endeavor.

Disc 5

17. Troubled Waters Part 2 (43:10) (Originally aired March 1, 2009)
Robert is rushed to emergency room after experiencing a heart attack, shaking up the Walker family. Rebecca is torn between her loyalty to Justin and her loyalty to her mother Holly in the midst of Tommy's hostile takeover of Ojai.

18. Taking Sides (42:32) (Originally aired March 8, 2009)
The Walkers try to hide Tommy's legal woes from both Nora and Ryan. Justin and Rebecca promise not to take sides as their respective families battle it out, but this proves to be a challenge.

19. Spring Broken (43:12) (Originally aired March 15, 2009)
Kevin and Justin take Tommy to a childhood beach in Mexico to get his mind off things. Kitty buckles under the pressure of caring for both her baby Evan and her recuperating husband Robert.

20. Missing (43:06) (Originally aired March 22, 2009)
Tommy goes missing after the trip to Mexico, leaving the Walkers in a state of panic regarding his upcoming hearing. Justin grows increasingly uncomfortable with how close Ryan is getting with Rebecca.

Julia (Sarah Jane Morris) offers a bittersweet toast to the Walkers at one of the few dinners that doesn't erupt into chaos. Holly (Patricia Wettig) has trouble performing a duet with a clearly unenthusiastic Sarah (Rachel Griffiths).

Disc 6

21. S3X (43:01) (Originally aired April 19, 2009)
Sarah returns to Ojai Foods and has a rather steamy first day back. Kevin's ex-boyfriend Chad is in town, and Kevin is shocked to find that Scotty is an avid fan of Chad's soap opera work.

22. Julia (43:11) (Originally aired April 26, 2009)
Tommy's wife Julia gives up on waiting for him to return and makes a startling decision.
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Robert notices how distant Kitty has been as of late and discovers the reason for this in an abrupt manner.

23. Let's Call the Whole Thing Off (42:52) (Originally aired May 3, 2009)
Holly and Sarah try to put on a good face in representing Ojai Foods despite the fact that they're not seeing eye to eye once again. Kitty's recent decisions remind her of her father's, and this leads to a revelation regarding Ryan's deceased mother.

24. Mexico (43:11) (Originally aired May 10, 2009)
Nora travels to Mexico in search of Tommy and scares the rest of the Walkers into coming with her. Justin and Rebecca reach a turning point in their relationship as do Robert and Kitty.

Kitty (Calista Flockhart) and Robert (Rob Lowe) meet with Kevin to discuss a job opportunity. Saul (Ron Rifkin), Justin (Dave Annabel), Scotty (Luke McFarlane), and Kevin (Matthew Rhys) aren't exactly the most skilled or enthusiastic construction workers Nora can find.

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Brothers and Sisters" comes to DVD in the anamorphic 1.78:1 aspect ratio of its high-definition broadcasts. The results are decent and meet expectations. Detail looks a bit soft, but not to a major degree.
Colors appear warm and natural, and the on-again, off-again grain from the previous season isn't a concern this time, possibly due to this set not being as sharp. No edge enhancement or compression artifacts crop up here.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtracks also offer the same quality as anticipated. Dialogue-driven dramas such as this focus towards the front of the sound field, with the rears used almost exclusively for score. Both of these are mixed well, though sound effects, understandably, aren't given much presence.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

A fair amount of supplements round out this third season set. The first one, "Starter Kit" (4:24) plays automatically on Disc One before the season premiere. This offers a narrated montage of clips from the first three seasons that helps give a feel for the series and its major plot threads. While in theory this is a useful feature to have for those who either have never seen the show or need a refresher course, this Starter Kit was actually created as a catch-up piece to pave the way for season four. Because of this, there are some major spoilers for the third season given, and those who wished to remain unspoiled may want to skip this as soon as it starts up.

Spread across all six discs are 19 deleted scenes (18:39). Each scene appears on the disc its respective episode lies on, which manages to simultaneously be handy and annoying since one can only play three or four at a time before switching discs. The scenes present here obviously have been cut due to time constraints, and while most wouldn't have made a great deal of difference, a few flesh out character motivations, particularly Robert's.

Three audio commentaries come next. Executive producer Monica Owusu-Breen and actors Rob Lowe and Matthew Rhys participate for both parts of "Troubled Waters." Owusu-Breen returns for the season finale, "Mexico," along with executive producers Alison Schapker and Ken Olin. Of the two groups, the one for "Troubled Waters" comes across as stronger. Neither track comes across as terribly informative, but the double-episode commentary benefits from some sarcasm and quips from Rob Lowe and Matthew Rhys. Outside of their fun cheekiness, the executive producers in either group tend to narrate the on-screen action more than providing behind-the-scenes information. These commentaries are certainly listenable, but they're not very worthwhile.

Ron Rifkin teaches co-stars Dave Annable and Matthews Rhys the proper way to eat a fig in"The Ojai Experience." Matthews Rhys and Rob Lowe engage in a fierce Rock-Em Sock-Em Robots match "In-Between Scenes." During "The Mothers of 'Brothers and Sisters'", Emily VanCamp compares and contrasts her own mother with her on-screen mother Holly and surrogate on-screen mother Nora.

The rest of the features are likewise spread throughout the set. Disc One holds "The Ojai Experience" (12:44). This follows several cast and crew members as they visit an actual winery in Ojai, California. The process is demonstrated, several wines are tasted, and each attendee offers his own perspective on the experience.
Watch a clip from "In-Between Scenes":
It's remarkable to see how much effort goes into manufacturing wine, and the cast and crew are obviously comfortable enough around each other that their cheekiness keeps the piece from ever becoming too dry.

Next, on disc two, is "In-Between Scenes" (6:35), a mix between a tour of different sets and B-roll footage of the cast having fun with each other between takes. The former part isn't really covered in-depth, but enough time is given to appreciate certain details such as the props for the yard sale scene. The bits that show on-set shenanigans offer some fun, and while this featurette isn't exactly enlightening, it's entertaining.

"The Mothers of 'Brothers and Sisters'" (10:18) appears on disc three. Various cast and crew members reflect back on the characters of both Nora Walker and Holly Harper, comparing them to their own mothers. There isn't much to be gleamed here, as the participants merely state over and over again how much Nora's pushiness and over-protectiveness hits so close to home. On the plus side, crew members not often featured on pieces like this (such as food caterers and key grips) are given a moment to shine.

Sally Field breaks out of character at the smell of her oversized prop in "Bloopers and Outtakes." In this deleted scene, Nora (Sally Field) makes a late night phone call to each of her children with news on Tommy. Nora presents some of her signature cooking on Disc One's main menu.

Finally, disc six contains "Bloopers & Outtakes" (5:03), which is a reel of flubbed takes and general goofiness. It's not tremendously different from other reels of this sort, but the playfulness of the cast helps to make this more diverting than usual.

Disc one opens with several trailers, including ABC on DVD and Blu-ray, "Desperate Housewives:" The Complete Fifth Season, The Proposal, and Disney Blu-ray. Additional promos can be found on disc six for Extract, "Grey's Anatomy:" The Complete Fifth Season, Cheri, "Desperate Housewives" on ABC, "Ugly Betty:" The Complete Third Season, "Private Practice:" The Complete Second Season, Old Dogs.

The main menus of all six discs feature wine glasses with show montages reflected in them. In a rarity for a series set, each menu features a unique color scheme and montage that focuses on the episodes of that particular disc. Submenus are similarly designed, but these feature still promo shots within the glasses rather than clips.

All six discs contain cast portraits (two a piece). These are housed in an eight-sided digipak with two discs to each panel. The left side features a sleeve containing episode and feature listings. Inside it is a booklet advertising other ABC series and another one for Blu-ray discs. Printed on the disc panels are various cast headshots, and the opposite side of the casing contains a large group photo. This all folds into a cardboard slipcover with some minor embossment.

Kitty (Calista Flockhart) and Nora (Sally Field) are not pleased to hear that, due to the state of her contractions, Trish (Sonja Sohn) is too far along to receive drugs. The Walkers are all on their best behavior for the social worker who'll determine Kitty and Robert's eligibility as adoptive parents.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Those who are already familiar with "Brothers and Sisters" will know exactly what to expect this season, as this third year is neither a step up nor a step down in quality.
The good news is that the performances (outside of one exception) remain natural and nuanced, and the characters are all fully developed. The bad news is that the Walker family has as many secrets as ever, a plot device that rears its head time and time again and always results in intense fight scenes. Hopefully the fourth season will bring about drama from other aspects of family life.

The DVD, meanwhile, offers acceptable video and audio and a few passable supplements. Fans of the show are encouraged to pick this up. Those who haven't liked the previous seasons won't find any radical changes here. For the people who are curious, a rental of the first season is the best place to start if they enjoy complex family dramas such as this.

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The Cast of Brothers & Sisters:
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Reviewed September 14, 2009.