Customer Reviews: Brotherhood Season 1
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Showtime has been trying for years to brand itself as the new HBO, producing programming that it hopes will match the critical and popular success of its rival network (with "Sex and the City", "Sopranos", "Deadwood", "The Wire", "Six Feet Under" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" as a few examples).

To me, most of the shows have fallen short. I did think, however, "Sleeper Cell" was better than most people gave it credit for --and "Weeds" has developed into a tidy little comedy. So check them out, too.

"Brotherhood", in my opinion, is their crowning achievement so far. It is sophisticated, morally ambiguous entertainment. The set-up is not unfamiliar--the classic cops versus criminals in a distinctly Irish neighborhood. Good brother in politics versus bad brother in crime. But how good is the good brother? And how bad is the bad? This show is very much about the choices we make and the complications and compromises that can arise.

But it's even more about family, obligations and loyalty. You will see this family for every flaw (and there are so many), but there is also much to be respected. I don't like shows to spoon-feed me ideology and tell me what to think. I like that "Brotherhood" doesn't pass judgment, it respects its characters and each viewer will likely react differently to their goings-on.

Two particular stand-outs in the cast are Jason Isaacs and Annabeth Gish. I've liked these performers for a while, but neither has achieved major stardom. Isaacs is ostensibly the "bad" brother and he is, at once, chillingly cold and charming. And Gish, as the politician's wife, is so lost and hopeless in many regards--but also, strangely, the voice of reason in many circumstances.

"Brotherhood" is complex, you do have to pay attention. It's serious drama done for people who appreciate serious drama. And I do! KGHarris, 9/06.
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HALL OF FAMEon December 12, 2006
The more and more that Showtime is premiering new shows, the better they have been. Maybe that's why some people are refering to Showtime as being a "new HBO" (although HBO isn't really HBO these days) with the list of new and original series' that have been very, very good. You have the hilarious Weeds, the riveting Sleeper Cell, the horriffic and addictive Dexter, and the entertaining Masters of Horror to name a few, and you also have this political/gangster drama. Brotherhood follows Irish-American politician Tommy Caffee (Jason Clarke), whose life gets thrown into upheaval when his long departed gangster brother Michael (the excellent Jason Isaacs) resurfaces. As each battles for control over the Hill, we soon learn that there is really not much difference between the two brothers, and the line between good and bad becomes more and more blurred with each passing episode. The supporting cast, including Fionnula Flanagan as the brother's controling mother and Annabeth Gish as Tommy's wife, are great, but it's veteran actor Jason Isaacs who is really the draw of the show, as he gives a masterful performance as one of the most subtley dangerous men to grace a series on Showtime. There's a little uneven feel to the series, but that aside, there is a ton of potential here for Brotherhood to be something really, really special. Comparisons to the Sopranos aside, Brotherhood is a treat.
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on October 22, 2011
The previous reviewer apparently expected a G-rated series which this is most definitely not. It is an adult-themed drama with realistic language. If course language offends, this series is not for you. If you like gripping drama, well written scripts, and quality acting, this is right up your alley.
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on November 21, 2006
This is such a great show; I would give it more than 5 stars if I could. No, it's NOT an Irish Sopranos; some of the newspaper/magazine reviews were very dismissive in calling it so and I wonder if the reviewers really watched the show. It's very complex (I love DVDs; perfect for watching episodes more than once) and, to me, not predictable. My husband and I watch a lot of TV and we have not sat and discussed a show this much for years. It has a great cast (it is so great to see actors like Jason Isaacs - my favorite actor by far - and Annabeth Gish playing such meaty parts) and the writing is excellent, WAY above what is usually seen on TV and in most Hollywood movies these days. I was hoping for good things when I first heard about this show and I was not disappointed in any way, except that it was over too soon! I look forward to Season 2 and hope they can keep the quality going; too many shows jump the shark in their second season and it would be a shame to see that happen here. (This is my major complaint about most HBO shows - they lose their mojo in the second/third season - witness the recent debacle of "Deadwood", previously my favorite show.) Anyway, give this one a chance and I think you will find it very enjoyable. Yes, it's violent and gritty and sometimes rather sad/depressing, but don't let that stop you from checking it out. It can also be very touching at times. Very high quality all the way around.
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on July 18, 2007
Not only is the story of an Irish family (Caffee brothers) living in Providence, Rhode Island compelling, I love the fact that the scenes and names of the places are so authentic and real. I actually lived in the yellow house you see on the screen, on Carpenter Street, as a young boy. But, you don't have to be from Providence to like this story. The filming is well done. The actors are impressive to say the least. With shows like Dexter and now Brotherhood, Showtime is giving HBO a run for its money. Worth seeing.
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on August 23, 2012
If you are into crime dramas, "Brotherhood" is an easy series to commit to, because it is entertaining, well acted (for the most part), and has an ending (of sorts) after just three seasons.

The series revolves around two brothers, one an aspiring and idealistic politician with what seems to be the perfect family life, and the other, a ruthless thug who resurfaces after a seven year absence. The brothers intentions are constantly at odds, and there's only room enough for one of them to stay "on the Hill".

The show has some very fine ensemble episodes - for me, the first was an episode that concludes the first season and takes place entirely during a wedding reception. The second was an episode that involves Thanksgiving day. Both were excellent from start to finish. They tried the same formula less successfully with a "Labor day" episode.

The problem I had with this show was aside from the main theme of the conflict between Tommy and Michael, there was a good deal of inconsistency in the series. Some plot threads would go nowhere or felt forced, and some character alliances would flip too many times to be believable. The flimsy continuity between the excellent ending episode of the first season and the first episode of the second season was hard to believe.

The series has an ending, but I think a lot of fans were left hoping for more closure.

All in all, if you like the first few episodes of "Brotherhood", then you should find the rest of the series worth watching, but it could have been a lot more.
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on August 9, 2015
This show has been my rebound date after losing Nucky Thompson at the end of Boardwalk Empire. RIP Nuck. It was recommended via a search online: "if you liked Boardwalk Empire, you'll like...". And they were correct. I do like it. Why four stars?
There are a good many rewarding and engaging qualities to Brotherhood but at times it does feel like it's trying too hard. Let's be honest, Providence, a unique New England gem in it's own right, is not Boston nor New York and it's 'organized' crime has never been all that organized. In an attempt to meld the Departed w/ the Sopranos there are times when inevitable cliches and predictable outcomes occur and reoccur but then again those cliches are exactly what most people tune in for. I can't fault the writers too much for that but as a result the storyline gets a bit predictable on occasion and when the tempo starts to dirge the show can take on an discomforting shadowy pall. Still, I remain drawn in despite those few flaws.
As it so happens, I originate from the very area where Brotherhood takes place and was filmed so the show's use of local references and locations is warmly nostalgic. Providence PD getting 'the works' hot dogs from the Haven Bros, the quahog stuffies (w/out the corn please!), coffee-milk, grinders, cabinets, the Portuguese-American clubs, route 6 and the I-95, the famed state capital building, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Newport, Cranston, Narragansett and even a piece of dialogue like "You drove to Seekonk? That's all the way up in Massachusetts!!" (it's just over the border) really brought me home.
Overall, Brotherhood has a compelling setup featuring two brothers, Michael and Tommy Caffe, who grew up on "The Hill" but find themselves as adults on opposite sides of the law; one a politician, the other a small-time Irish mobster. But they never let that interfere with their family dinners. One minor point that was a continual distraction for me was the actors' unsuccessful attempts at the Rhode Island dialect, which gets a little silly at times. Considering the two main stars are British and Australian they do a decent job and when you add that this dialect is a very particular 'in-between-Boston-and-New York' kind of patter who can really tell anyway? Okay. most anybody from Taunton to Mystic can, but I doubt the bulk of the viewers really care about that.
All in all, I think Brotherhood is well worth watching but don't expect Breaking Bad here, it's not quite at that level but it's very good and as an added plus you also get a pretty comprehensive look around the small but mighty "Ocean State".
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on November 7, 2015
This is one of my favorite TV series of all time - Jason Isaacs deserved an Emmy for his performance, and Jason Clarke is no slouch either. The whole cast is terrific.

I'm deducting a star because the soundtrack has changed. There were a number of songs by the Tindersticks, including the opening scene of the first episode, that have been replaced by inferior music, which alters the mood. The haunting "Sweet Memory" at the end of "Ecclesiastes 7:2" is a prime example.
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on July 2, 2015
It's interesting to watch Italian American Mafia/mob stories to see how they had the audacity to organized crime, take what wasn't their and hurl racist insults against minorities groups they often resembled in feature (guess who). So I wanted to learn how Irish people did the same sans the physical resemblance, and I decided to give this series a try. Didn't like it. It's a Soprano wannabe series but with Irish people/mob who have a free pass to make racial insults against Black people & other races. Who knew that Rhode Island only had 1 Black official in the entire city? I would think that there would be other races than Irish people in the 21st century in Rhode Island. At least hire actors of different races and culture to walk by/in stores/in political office etc to make this town/storyline believeable! Two stars for giving me insight on how Irish Americans can be as thuggish, corrupt and racist as the Italian American
Mafia was. The costume department must have saved tons of money on clothes because the actors looked like they rolled out of bed and put on what they wore the previous day or even from home! Michael's a big shot gangster who wears sneakers! Lol! And he wears a leather jacket from the '80s just about everyday when filming was done in the summer! Does a leather coat make you a ganster? Showtime thought so. Where does all the corrupt money go? Certainly not on their homes or for repairs in their home eg. Tommy couldn't run the A/C without it blowing a fuse. Come on! Where does his money go? And where does his wife get money to buy weed or coke if she doesn't work? Tommy is never seen giving her (or the kids) an allowance. This series is unbelievable and not realistic!
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on June 15, 2016
This is a great show and an excellent deal if you have Amazon Prime! I'm not a fan of how season one ends or how season two begins however, season one, in my opinion, is the best of them all. The last half of season three could have been much better; It's almost as if the writers were on auto pilot. That being said, the acting is so believable it's easy to forget you're not watching the lives of real people. I'm satisfied but not thrilled with the ending of the series. If you're a fan of THE SOPRANOS, I highly recommend giving it a shot and remember, character development takes a few episodes. In almost every series it takes time for the actors and writers to catch their groove.
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