Thursday, November 6, 2008

TV Watch: Brotherhood

The bad boys of Boston are back for a 2nd season on the Showtime cable network. 'Brotherhood' is all about Irish-American family life, politics, and organized crime, and is set in the modern day in Boston, Mass.

It is the story of two brothers, Tommy and Michael Caffee, one supposedly a 'good guy' and one the proverbial 'bad boy', but sometimes it becomes hard to tell which is which.

The actors who portray these characters are asked to carry the load for the show, and they do it incredibly well. Tommy is played by Jason Clarke. He is a billed as an old-school ward politician who lives by the credo 'loyalty = votes, votes = power'. Tommy will do anything for his family and his constituents, as well as to further his own career, and is extremely loyal on the home front.

Michael is played by Jason Isaacs. The show began last year with his return after seven years from an Irish mob-imposed exile. He quickly exhibits what are billed as 'bull in the china shop' ways of operating in trying to re-establish his mob affiliations and power. Needless to say, having a criminal like Michael as a brother is never a good thing for an ambitious politician like Tommy, and it causes frequent friction between the brothers.

The glue that holds their family together is their aging mother Rose Caffee, played by Fionnula Flanagan. She is the atypical Irish family matriarch, trying to keep Tommy's career moving forward and Michael out of trouble as best she can.

As in any truly great ensemble piece, the supporting actors have to be very good, and they are in Brotherhood. They include Ethan Embry as Detective Declan Graves, Annabeth Gish as Tommy's wife Eileen Caffee, Tina Benko as Michael's longtime love Kath Parry, Kevin Chapman as Irish mob boss Freddie Cork, and Sopranos veteran Matt Servitto as Tommy's sometime political mentor and sometime rival State House Speaker Donatello.

A true-to-life pol/crime/family tale that mixes elements of those Sopranos with the real-life Bulger brothers, Brotherhood is another entertaining cable TV series winner. Click on to the 'TV Watch' label below for reviews on all the series that I have recommended.

NOTE: "Brotherhood" was suddenly and unceremoniously cancelled by Showtime after three seasons of 29 total episodes, despite critical acclaim and popularity.

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