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  • 7.5

    A family drama easily compared with Picket Fences but with a cast of well drawn characters that won't disappoint.

    By TVTome_John, Jun 22, 2005

    Yes, it's from David E. Kelley. No, it doesn't have rail-thin lawyers.



    The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H. will most obviously be compared to Picket Fences one of David E. Kelley's earlier shows. Like Picket Fences, Brotherhood is set in a small town with quirky characters that hold important positions in the town. Brotherhood focuses on the Shaw brothers who are sort of town patriarchs. Garrett Shaw is the mayor, Hank Shaw the chief of police and Waylon … well he's out of work. The brothers are close and with their positions of power, they often look after each other.



    Rounding out the cast of characters are the three brother's wives Helen (wife of Garrett), Dottie (Hank's wife) and Julie (Waylon's wife). The show is being billed as a family drama but these characters are older than your typical TV parents and their kids are as well – either in high school or off at college. I should mention here that the cast are all excellent. There are some fairly big names here and they don't disappoint – John Caroll Lynch as Garrett, Randy Quaid as Hank and Mare Winningham as Dottie are all particularly good in the first episode. Angela Goethals as Waylon's daughter is one of the most able "kid" characters on TV.



    Poland, New Hampshire where the show is set is a town that's facing a lot of the problems that small towns across the nation see. The economy is faltering and the kids tend to grow up and move away in search of better opportunities. Garrett and Hank love the town and with their positions they're doing their best to improve life in Poland, but they get little respect at home or on the job. Youngest brother Waylon struggles to find his place. Out of work and insecure about his abilities and intelligence, he – rightfully – worries that his brothers don't respect him.



    Brotherhood, like most shows in the family drama arena, will live or die based on the characters. We, the viewer, have to be drawn to these people – liking them even though they're not perfect and caring about what happens to them. The show is certainly ably written and acted and should draw people in quickly. It's a show that's fairly serious in tone and deals with grown-up issues like infidelity and suicide but is lightened by the character's quirks and some of the ridiculous situations they get themselves into. The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H. is a family drama that will appeal to thinking, adults who enjoy complex characters and situations. It's not lighthearted entertainment but Brotherhood will reward those who allow themselves to be drawn into this world.



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