I too am not Jewish or from New York, but I would catch this show, accurately described in another post as Jewish Wonder Years (if for nothing else to give you a direction to go in), and be stunned by the grandmother. I could not place where I recognized the blue eyed woman from, but she was astonishingly familiar.
Had I seen her in a soap opera? She wasn't from a movie. Then I finally realized it was Marion Ross, who had played Mrs. Cunningham on Happy Days for nearly a decade. Sadly the show was not centered around her as she was the only shining grace.
Much like Fox's Family Guy, Brooklyn Bridge seemed to be misdirected. It wanted to thrive on nostalgia (which it must have assumed all of America would be having, whether they were Jewish and from New York or not) and be full of "remember when?"
But the show was off kilter. Ross was stunning, a virtual dynamo to observe and listen to. She had to audition for the role three times, by the way.
Rarely does a performer who is so typecast get a chance to be effective and shine in a different area, and Ross got hers and she made it work.
Yet the rest of the cast was dreadful stereotypes, especially Amy Aquino as the mother. No one else sparkled or showed life like Ross did.
Then there would be episodes dealing with Danny Gerard's dating an Irish girl with James Naughton and Constance McCashlin as her parents. The song "Tonight" from West Side Story would play, the moment before the rumble, when the parents were all going to meet over dinner (turned out this little bit with the song was really not necessary).
Each family was defensive about its own stereotypes (Naughton would say if the kids grew up and married, he wanted them to have a dozen kids. He would tell the waiter to bring the wine and leave the bottle. Irish stereotypes).
Blessing was also funny.
But the ending was a true gem in television; While listening to Danny Boy, we see Naughton trying to understand Jewish scripture, then we see Marion Ross clutching the album cover listening to Danny Boy and her eyes were filled with tears.
Naughton would return, separated from his wife. Little things like a street vending scene worked brilliantly, because Ross's character and even Naughton's had a focus and direction.
But the rest of the group spent their time at the kitchen tables, going over to see Morty and Ida, marveling over this new thing called television. Fifties stereotypes.
the worst by far was when the boy began singing doo whop in the boys restroom.
Joel Grey would show up as a cousin who survived the holocaust. If Carol Kane had been given more airtime, she would have been outstanding as well. Why wasn't Kane the daughter of Ross?
Grand show, but it was distorted.
I never did forget that the show took place in Bensonhurst, which was where just five years earlier in the mid-eighties, a black youth was shot and killed for trying to find out about an automobile for sale.
I recall thinking there was no way a show would have been placed in Selma Alabama or Philadelphia Mississippi during the sixties and expect nostalgia to work there as well.