Every so often a dramatic series appears with the quota of melodrama necessary to ensure ratings, yet with a level of sophistication in the acting and writing that elevates it into a class of its own. “Family” was one such show; “Sisters” is another.
Of the series’ major virtues, its creative team’s ability to produce episodes that stand on their own as individual dramas while carefully contributing to the total and consistent development of its characters, is exemplified by this week’s offering.
The story has pregnant Georgie (Patricia Kalember) trapped in her car after an accident. As each family member arrives, the emergency crew employs various means to free her.
The situation grows problematic when Kalember, now in the ninth month of carrying the baby she has surrogate-mothered for sister Frankie (Julianne Phillips), goes into labor.
Scripters Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser have masterfully zoomed in on the toll that helplessness takes on each family member.
Sister Alex’s angst stemming from being the eldest, yet most lacking in leadership and control, is tangibly portrayed by Swoosie Kurtz.
The husbands’ reactions of brutish anger and paternal concern are clearly represented by Ed Marinaro and Garrett M. Brown, respectively.
Sister Sela Ward has the thankless task of trying to manage Georgie’s two sons through the crisis.
Phillips turns in a heartfelt and endearing characterization of a woman with split concern for her sister and the child her sister carries for her. The decision that Kalember is of primary importance is made with laudable subtlety.
Kalember turns in a tour-de-force perf; every tearful smile, painful wince, cry for help, is pure.
Director Nancy Malone sets a tempo for the segment that holds the audience to the final credits.