Question: I love your column. It is refreshing to hear the way you dissect television art, and I'd like to discuss Brothers & Sisters. I'm so glad I tuned in, despite the early problems. Not only was my perception of Calista Flockhart as annoying totally shattered, especially in the Sept. 11 episode, but the players I had no preconceived notions about, like Matthew Rhys and Dave Annable, showed me how strong the show really is. And last week's episode with Justin's return was pure brilliance, from the beginning with Kevin and Sarah talking on their respective cell phones all the way to the beautiful scene where Justin clings to his mother Nora, played brilliantly by Sally Field. I immediately thought of my mother through the tears this scene brought to my eyes, and remembered trying times in my life when a long hug made me feel better. This show has opened my eyes to the power of storytelling and reinvigorated my desire to crack into this business as a writer. I think this hour of television is one of the finest in TV's entire history. Now I ask you: Do you think Dave Annable has a chance at a well-deserved Emmy nomination for his work during this classic hour, or will the Globes, SAG and the Emmys continue to ignore the efforts of the series' cast, writers and directors? Thanks for your time, and more importantly I want to thank those behind B&S, since I know this is a forum where my thanks will be heard.
Answer: While I probably wouldn't go so far as to say that episode was an all-time classic, it was easily one of the most dramatically satisfying hours of TV I've seen so far this season. Brothers & Sisters is terrific entertainment, and every scene with Dave Annable and Sally Field was electrifying and scored high on the tear-jerk meter. But I fear the show will continue to be underrated critically in some corners for its often soapy nature and ignored by much of the industry (especially in the awards arena) except where its marquee stars are concerned. I'd like to be wrong on this, and maybe I will be if the show keeps the quality up. And while we're on the subject, for those who've been pining for the sort of fictional saintly politician who's been missing since The West Wing signed off, look no further than Rob Lowe as Senator McCallister, the sort of compassionate conservative who can silence even a Rush Limbaugh-like radio blowhard by saying of the exasperating family he's marrying into: "We are all part of a larger American family [including liberals and gays, etc.]... no one is irrelevant and no one should be ignored." Words to live by, but doubtful scarce to be found on the stump or debate pulpit this election season.