Question: I just wanted to thank you for the hard work you do giving us the chance to talk about television. The greatness of your columns is that you really discuss television, not spoilers. You present arguments, opinions and facts regarding every TV issue, and you let us be part of this debate. I look forward to your column every week. Though it is still very early to form a proper opinion on a lot of new fall series, what do you think about Brothers & Sisters? I have been reading that the show may be a little too depressing for Sunday night. My hope knows no limits regarding this show, since I think it has a flawless cast (especially now that Sally Field has joined it). Also, I would like to know your expectations for the new season of Desperate Housewives. It is true that in its sophomore year the show took a wrong turn, but I think that it can reach perfection once again.
Answer: Gee, thanks for the testimonial. The main reason I can't discuss Brothers & Sisters with any authority is that we haven't actually seen anything beyond a few scenes from a pilot that is being pretty drastically retooled. That retooling includes the casting of Sally Field, who does seem perfectly suited to play the matriarch in a blue-chip family drama. (Her costars in the pilot include Calista Flockhart, Rachel Griffiths, Ron Rifkin, Patricia Wettig, Tom Skerritt and Balthazar Getty.) From the way they talked about it during ABC's press-tour session, it sounds as if part of the retooling will be to lighten the tone a bit, which makes sense given its proximity to Desperate Housewives. What made Housewives and Grey's Anatomy such a great fit on Sundays was that both shows (when at their best) are terrific fun to watch, and I'm hoping Brothers & Sisters will at the very least be entertaining, even if it's more dramatic in nature. Given its creative pedigree (producers include respected playwright Jon Robin Baitz, Ken Olin and Buffy veteran Marti Noxon), I think it's worth giving it the benefit of the doubt for now. Same goes for Desperate Housewives, which appears to have learned some lessons from its chaotic and underwhelming second season. They've brought on some terrific new producer/writers with great comic chops, including Frasier pros Joe Keenan and Bob Daily, whom I talked to at length at ABC's party. Marc Cherry is much more involved this season in breaking and developing the stories, the mysteries and each episode's individual themes far ahead of production, with the hope that, unlike last year, they'll stay comfortably in front of the process and not get overwhelmed. As I've often said, this is one of the trickiest and most demanding shows to execute successfully, with its mix of comedy and soap opera. There's no reason to think Housewives can't get back on its game this year. I'd certainly like it to.