10 June 2007 | liquidcelluloid-1
Yes, we've been here before, but under the eyes of Stevens and Abrams "Brian" manages to distinguish itself
Network: ABC; Genre: Drama; Romance; Content Rating: TV-14 (some sexual content); Perspective: Contemporary (star range: 1 - 4);
Seasons Reviewed: Season 2 Picking up with the 2nd and final season of Dana Stevens' "What About Brian", the show starts to make a switch from being about a group of couples and the one guy who just won't settle down to a show about several relationships spiraling out of control. It is a smart and welcome change to say the least. Our hero Brian (Barry Watson, "7th Heaven") returns from a sabbatical and near-death experience in time to suffer through the wedding of his best friend, lawyer Adam (Matthew Davis) and his love Marjorie (Sarah Lancaster). Meanwhile, his video game business partner Dave (Rick Gomez, the highlight of the series) and his adorable wife Deena (Amanda Detmer)'s marriage is falling apart. His sister, Nicole (Rosanna Arquette) is still pregnant and about ready to pop.
"Brian" is not my cup of tea as it isn't the cup of tea of most people given how viciously maligned the show has been by what I can only describe as "the Family Guy crowd". As that rare breed of relationship drama, this is a slick, sophisticated adult series. Once the show gets past the done-to-death disrupted wedding episode, the show starts branching out. Brian is the least interesting character in this crowd, played like he doesn't know what to do next by Watson, and the further the show goes into the rest of the ensemble, the better it gets.
Stevens and powerhouse producer J.J. Abrams work to keep the show distinct. There is a richness to it, a depth and realism to the characters and situations. Some of the women are annoying and some of the men are idiots, but it really doesn't feel contrived. Stevens has clearly poured her heart into it and it comes through. Abrams seems to be keeping everything on track. There is some stunt casting toward the end to get the ratings up, but how can you complain with the addition of Krista Allen, Rachelle Lefevre, Stacy Kiebler and Tiffani Amber-Theissan to the cast.
The more entangled the love and work lives of these characters become, the juicer the show gets. A lot is laid out in this final season, and yes we've seen it all before - "Brian" is not entirely immune to it's criticism - but that doesn't mean that it can't be done well no matter how many wedding episodes, birthing episodes, buddies-in-jail episodes, and secret-affair episodes we've seen. There isn't a lot you can say about it, but "Brian" isn't the disaster people wanted it to be. It looks good and it sounds good. I don't like this type of series and I liked it. That says something.
* * * / 4