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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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By Kelvin Cedeno

Everyone thinks their family is dysfunctional, and they may or may not be right. It's common to find fights, secrets, and flat-out oddities in one's closest relatives. So what exactly constitutes a functional family? What's the rigid standard that so many people use to measure the quirks and complexities of their own households? It's difficult to answer these, but one thing is fairly certain: the Walkers make every other American family look like candidates for the "Donna Reed Show."

The ABC drama "Brothers & Sisters" is where one can witness the complicated interactions of the Walker family. In this third season, Nora (Sally Field) tries to become her own person with a life beyond nurturing her five adult children.
She sets to accomplish this by opening a center for sick children. Her own offspring's problems, however, make independence rather difficult. Sarah (Rachel Griffiths) and Tommy (Balthazar Getty) both run Ojai Foods, the family produce and wine business. Both run into rocky terrain when co-owner Holly Harper (Patricia Wettig) attempts to take the company into a different territory than their father had intended.

Kevin (Matthew Rhys) endures a similar situation when his job at the law firm requires him to make certain morally ambiguous choices. Kitty (Calista Flockhart) and her senator husband Robert McCallister (Rob Lowe) seek to adopt a child, but Kitty wonders whether Robert is more in love with politics than with her and their future child. Justin (David Annable) is now in a relationship with Holly's daughter Rebecca (Emily VanCamp), although the tensions between Holly and the Walkers threaten to tear them apart. On top of all this is the possibility that the now-deceased Walker patriarch William (Tom Skerritt) may have had an illegitimate child named Ryan, whom Nora debates on whether or not to contact.

Nora (Sally Field) and Kitty (Calista Flockhart) take a moment to reflect back on the things William Walker did in the past and how it still affects them today in "Brothers & Sisters." When meeting Saul's boyfriend, the Walkers put on a deceiving front that makes them appear halfway normal.

If one has seen the previous two seasons of "Brothers and Sisters", then more of the same can be expected. Unlike other television series that tend to vary in quality season by season, this one remains consistent, for better or worse. On the positive side, the characters and performances all remain strong. Sometimes the scenarios are a bit manipulative so as to favor one character's position over another, but for the most part, everyone is painted in shades of gray. There's not a single character who's either right all of the time or wrong all of the time. This makes the interactions all the more believable. Each actor turns in a well-rounded performance, with Sally Field once again being the standout. Unfortunately, the latest addition to the cast, Luke Grimes as Ryan, fares less well. He comes across as somewhat awkward and wooden, though in an odd way it kind of works since his relationship with the Walkers is anything but congenial.

As mentioned previously, the flawed relationships of the Walker family is the show's crux. It engages for the most part, but it can quickly grow wearisome, particularly if one watches several episodes consecutively. To be sure, there wouldn't be much in the way of character development or plotting if these regularly-scheduled arguments didn't occur. However, the storylines often rely too heavily on the idea that everyone has a secret. It seems that in every episode a big revelation will surface that causes a heated squabble, usually around the dinner table. To be fair, the series has always been this way, so it's not an issue specific to this third season. One can't help but wonder, though, how long the series will use this motif of secrets and debates before it grows from mildly annoying to simply stale.

"Brothers and Sisters" is still a well-made show despite all of the character naggings. The richness and care given to each story arc helps make the feuds easier to swallow since the participants are those the audience cares for. The writing balances snappy prose with naturalism and manages to blend both convincingly. The storylines teeter towards overwrought soapiness, but the aforementioned elements help reign things in organically.

Each episode is summarized below. A star () denotes the 10 most memorable episodes.

Scotty (Luke McFarlane) helps Kevin (Matthew Rhys) prepare for what's sure to be an eventful day with the Walkers. Justin (Dave Annable) can't bear to part with an old monkey figurine despite Nora's (Sally Field) insistence on selling it off.

Disc 1

1. Glass Houses (43:05) (Originally aired September 28, 2008)
When his boss leaves him the keys to a lavish summer home for a weekend, Kevin intends on using it with Scotty.
His plans are shot down when the rest of the Walkers decide to join them, and Tommy has some awkward news to share.

2. Book Burning (42:18) (Originally October 5, 2008)
The manuscript for a novel Kitty is working on is discovered by Nora, and she and every other family member weigh in their thoughts about it. Kitty also stresses over a meeting with a social worker to determine whether she and Robert qualify for adoption.

3. Tug of War (42:15) (Originally aired 12, 2008)
Saul and Sarah both come to a mutual decision after seeing how Holly is negatively affecting Tommy's business choices. Justin is uncomfortable when a soldier he helped rescue insists on throwing him a dinner as a means of thanks.

4. Everything Must Go (42:39) (Originally aired October 19, 2008)
In need of a personal office, Nora sells off all the items stashed away in the garage to make room. With Kitty retiring as his advisor, Robert looks for a replacement but is unimpressed by all the applicants.

Ethan (Will McCormack) shows off his magic skills, giving Sarah an idea as to who should be the magician at Tommy's anniversary party. Shocked would be the best word to describe Nora's (Sally Field) reaction to Kevin (Matthew Rhys) winning the house she intended to bid on.

Disc 2

5. You Get What You Need (42:08) (Originally aired October 26, 2008)
Scotty's judgmental parents come to visit, and their behavior causes Kevin to make a rash decision. Rebecca finds a file with information on Ryan, the possible half-brother of the Walkers, in Holly's office.

6. Bakersfield (41:07) (Originally aired November 2, 2008)
Nora makes up her mind on the Ryan issue, deciding to tell him the truth and conning Kitty to come along. Sarah continues job hunting and finds a possible one with a web-based company.

7. Do You Believe in Magic? (42:32) (Originally aired November 9, 2008)
Tommy and Julia celebrate their anniversary with a magic-themed gala. Nora uses this as an opportunity to introduce the man who raised Ryan to the rest of the Walkers but with mixed results.

8. Going Once... Going Twice (42:32) (Originally aired November 16, 2008)
Nora attends an auction to bid on a building for her children's center, but Kevin inadvertently snatches it from her as a gift to Scotty. Justin tries to hook up a member from his AA meetings with Saul.

Julia (Sarah Jane Morris) and Tommy (Balthazar Getty) keep watch over their sick daughter Elizabeth's bedside. Nora (Sally Field) explains to her contractor Roger (Nigel Havers) how, despite his obvious talent, his vision doesn't align with hers.

Disc 3

9. Unfinished Business (42:32) (Originally November 30, 2008)
To save on money, Nora coerces her family to help her renovate the children's home rather than allow a contractor to do it.
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Greenatopia, Sarah's web business, strikes a possible deal with an investor, but he turns out to be someone from Sarah's past.

10. Just a Sliver (42:01) (Originally aired December 7, 2008)
The Walker family decides to split up for Thanksgiving. Tommy and Julia's daughter Elizabeth is in need of a liver transplant, and the best person to donate rests between Kevin and Justin.

11. A Father Dreams (41:43) (Originally aired January 4, 2009)
Recuperating at his mother's house, Kevin can't stand her smothering and escapes with Justin. Saul finds Nora a contractor to rebuild and design the children's home, not realizing the history the two share.

12. Sibling Rivalry (42:45) (Originally aired January 11, 2009)
Nora guilt-trips Kitty into lending Sarah money for Greenatopia, but Sarah rejects it. Tommy turns to Saul for help in overthrowing Holly.

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Continue to Page 2 >>

Page 1: Show Discussion, Discs 1-3
Page 2: Disc 4-6, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed September 14, 2009.