Review: ‘Brotherly Love’

Videotaped in Los Angeles by Witt/Thomas Prods. in association with Touchstone Television. Executive producers, Jonathan Schmock, Jim Vallely, Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas, Gary Levine; co-producers, Donna Lawrence, Joe Lawrence Sr.; director, TerryHughes; writers, Vallely, Schmock; lighting designer, Kent Inasy; production designer, Ed LaPorta; sound, Kerry Boggio; music, George Englund, Nick South, Greg Hilfman. TX:Cast: Joey Lawrence, Matthew Lawrence, Andrew Lawrence, Micheal McShane, Liz Vassey, Melinda Culea, Melissa Clayton Whatever your opinion of Joey Lawrence, it'll go triple for "Brotherly Love," in which the former "Blossom" co-star is united with his two real-life, look-alike younger brothers. The main difference is that Joey this time around is the older and smarter sibling. Whoa! After Saturday's premiere, show moves into its 7 p.m. Sunday timeslot, where it presents a clear alternative to Morley Safer. In pilot episode, Joe returns to Philadelphia from California, to sell his minority share of the family-owned garage to Claire; he intends to proceed to Daytona to form a racing team. Joe resents Claire for taking his father away from him; Matt and Andy resent Joe for being an absentee (half) brother, and for the first 20 minutes or so everybody in the family is hissing at one another.

Videotaped in Los Angeles by Witt/Thomas Prods. in association with Touchstone Television. Executive producers, Jonathan Schmock, Jim Vallely, Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas, Gary Levine; co-producers, Donna Lawrence, Joe Lawrence Sr.; director, TerryHughes; writers, Vallely, Schmock; lighting designer, Kent Inasy; production designer, Ed LaPorta; sound, Kerry Boggio; music, George Englund, Nick South, Greg Hilfman. TX:Cast: Joey Lawrence, Matthew Lawrence, Andrew Lawrence, Micheal McShane, Liz Vassey, Melinda Culea, Melissa Clayton Whatever your opinion of Joey Lawrence, it’ll go triple for “Brotherly Love,” in which the former “Blossom” co-star is united with his two real-life, look-alike younger brothers. The main difference is that Joey this time around is the older and smarter sibling. Whoa! After Saturday’s premiere, show moves into its 7 p.m. Sunday timeslot, where it presents a clear alternative to Morley Safer. In pilot episode, Joe returns to Philadelphia from California, to sell his minority share of the family-owned garage to Claire; he intends to proceed to Daytona to form a racing team. Joe resents Claire for taking his father away from him; Matt and Andy resent Joe for being an absentee (half) brother, and for the first 20 minutes or so everybody in the family is hissing at one another.

By the end of the half-hour, Joe has been persuaded to remain in Philly and run the garage, and everything’s swell among the stepfamily. Joe probably would have decided to stay earlier on if he’d caught sight of one of the garage’s two mechanics, toothsome Lou (Liz Vassey), who’s introduced to the camera — and the audience’s fathers — from the rear, bending over a fender. She’s also attending night classes in art history.

The other mechanic, Lloyd (Micheal McShane), is obese and seemingly perpetually oil-stained; probably the only Old Masters he’d recognize are cigars. Neither gets to do much in the pilot.

While the supporting cast and production staff are all pro, pressure is on the Lawrences, who rise to the occasion. Though thesping isn’t really their forte, they display plenty of personality, and their age spread — from whatever Joey is, down to tyke Andrew — should attract a wide range of younger viewers.

Like many Witt/Thomas series, “Brotherly Love” is occasionally smarter than it really needs to be. Now that the mutual resentment issue is evidently resolved, it’ll be interesting to see whether other issues will be tangled with, or the Lawrences simply become life-sized character dolls.

Episode moves brightly under Terry Hughes’ direction, and look good.

Brotherly Love

(Sat. (16), 9-9:30 p.m., NBC)

Production

Lawrence brothers Joey, Matthew and Andrew portray "Joe,""Matt" and "Andy" respectively; no need to confuse the show's intended core audience. Matt and Andy are sons of Claire (Melinda Culea), and half-brothers, via their late father, of Joe.
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