The mud­dled masses yearn­ing for a plot

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

Cast of thou­sands: The ever grow­ing IN just its third se­ries, Broth­ers & Sis­ters is ex­hibit­ing symp­toms of the po­ten­tially fa­tal char­ac­ters-in-searchof-a-plot syn­drome.

Like an econ­omy on the skids, de­spite the over­pop­u­la­tion of the Walker clan ( five adult sib­lings, their part­ners and chil­dren, the wid­owed mother, a mis­tress wife of the de­ceased fa­ther and her child, an un­cle who has de­cided he is gay as he ap­proaches 70, their neigh­bours, col­leagues, old friends and new), the best the writ­ers can think of is a stim­u­lus pack­age in the form of yet an­other Walker sprog by yet an­other un­known mother.

Though we know he ex­ists, we’ve yet to meet or even see the mys­te­ri­ous Ryan, but no doubt he will be ac­corded all the fair and de­cent treat­ment af­forded Re­becca ( Emily VanCamp), the first bas­tard Walker, when she emerged.

Well, at least un­til it was dis­cov­ered that she was not, in fact, a Walker, where­upon she promptly fell in love with Justin, a man she had con­sid­ered her half-brother un­til then.

Also, the char­ac­ters are given lately to the kind of ex­po­si­tion not of­ten seen out­side The Bold and the Beau­ti­ful and, in more cred­i­ble pro­grams, in any­thing less than their fi­nal sea­sons. They gaze sky­wards to re­cite lita­nies of the near-im­pos­si­ble things that have hap­pened to them so far.

How­ever, you still need to watch

en­sem­ble won­der­ing who’ll be next closely be­cause the things that don’t re­peat them­selves tend to re­verse them­selves. Just a cou­ple of episodes ago, Un­cle Saul and bona fide Walker sib­ling Sarah ( Rachel Grif­fiths) dra­mat­i­cally quit the Walker fam­ily wine busi­ness. Tonight, over a glass or two of the de­mon stuff with for­mer boss Tommy ( Balt­hazar Getty), Saul shyly con­fesses that re­tire­ment is a bore, and is promptly of­fered his job back. He then ex­plains to Saul that Sarah will also come back if . . . ( cue soap opera strings) he fires Holly ( Pa­tri­cia Wet­tig), Re­becca’s mother, the for­mer Walker mis­tress every­one loves to loathe.

Then there’s the re­ver­sal of the God-fear­ing par­ents of Scotty Wan­dell ( Luke Mac­Far­lane), the gay part­ner of Kevin Walker ( Matthew Rhys). Tonight al­most com­pletes their meta­mor­pho­sis from gay-hat­ing son for­sak­ers to prac­ti­cally wear­ing Par­ents and Friends of Les­bians and Gays ban­ners in the gay pride pa­rade, cour­tesy of a late din­ner with Kitty ( Cal­ista Flock­hart) and Se­na­tor McCal­lis­ter ( Rob Lowe).

In­cred­i­bly, it looks as if Kevin is go­ing to re­place Kitty as the se­na­tor’s me­dia of­fi­cer. His ra­tio­nale for tak­ing up the Repub­li­can’s cause, the thing he has pro­fessed to hate in two and a bit se­ries so far? ‘‘ De­mon­i­sa­tion cuts both ways.’’ Ap­par­ently, so do scripts.

Ian Cuth­bert­son

Broth­ers & Sis­ters

Yes, it was the TV cover story last week, but this is a great new lo­cal show, well worth an­other men­tion. And with an episode ti­tle such as

, how can you go wrong? , star­ring John Wood, is a mil­lion miles from the fam­ily friendly , which kept Wood oc­cu­pied for decades. Here he plays less than squeaky­clean sports agent Wild’’ Bill Telford. A strong sup­port­ing cast that in­cludes the near ubiq­ui­tous Matt Pass­more, pic­tured, and the rarely seen but al­ways wel­come Ben Ox­en­bould ( ) helps de­liver sexy, well writ­ten and per­formed TV. Daffy as ever in its fifth and fi­nal sea­son, reaches vaguely for top­i­cal­ity tonight when the griev­ing brother of a sol­dier killed by mal­prac­tice in a mil­i­tary hospi­tal comes to Crane, Poole and Sch­midt for le­gal help. That Bri­tain has the high­est teenage preg­nancy rate in Europe prob­a­bly won’t come as too much of a sur­prise to view­ers who noted with the hor­ror the re­cent case in the news of the 13-year-old Bri­tish fa­ther. Only slightly more hor­ri­fy­ing were the fur­ther half-dozen teenagers who came for­ward claim­ing they, too, could be the child’s fa­ther. This pro­gram takes a clutch of teenage cou­ples and sets them up with real ba­bies to care for, just so the lit­tle wretches will know what they are up against should con­tra­cep­tion fail.

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