'Brothers' review: Not feeling the love
The FOX sitcom boasts a cast that includes CCH Pounder and Daryl "Chill" Mitchell, who have been excellent in other roles, and Carl Weathers, who showed a great facility for comedy a few seasons back on "Arrested Development." Former NFL star Michael Strahan rounds out the cast, and while he's obviously not a trained actor, he comes across as a pretty charming and likable guy.
Unfortunately, the show they're stuck in gives into all the things that give traditional, multi-camera sitcoms a bad rap -- hackneyed writing, sniggering sex jokes and performances that are a couple sizes too big. Friday's one-hour premiere (it debuts at 8 p.m. ET and will be paired with "'Til Death" after this week) has precious few laughs.
Strahan plays a version of himself named Mike Trainor, a former football star who comes to visit his parents (Pounder and Weathers) and brother Chill (Mitchell) in Houston. Chill runs a restaurant that's struggling, Dad is showing a few signs of what might be dementia and Mike's manager has absconded with most of his money, giving everyone a reason to stay together and pull together.
Rather than delving more deeply into those issues, though, the tough times the Trainors are going through serve merely as a pretense to get everyone in the same house and set up each other's punchlines. Weathers' possible health problems are played for laughs, which doesn't work, and every time the show inches up to a moment of genuine emotion, it runs away, leaving a lame joke in its wake (the worst offender in the pilot involves Dad interrupting the brothers with a line about shaving his "wiggly-do").
Mitchell is a pretty gifted comic actor, and he and Strahan play off one another reasonably well; they have a smack-talking, one-upping sibling relationship, and what moments of enjoyment there are in the show mostly spring from that. Pounder and Weathers do their best with what they're given, but there's just not much to work with there.
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