Brothers (1984)

Season 2 Episode 7

Donald's Dad

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Jun 13, 1985 on Showtime
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Donald's Dad
After 15 years, Donald's estranged father returns to Philadelphia. He is dying, and Donald knows that his time to reconcile with his father is short; however, his father wants nothing to do with him.

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  • Robert Stack guest stars in a Jerry Lewis-directed episode that may well be the best episode of the entire series.

    Watching this episode is a reminder of what a shame it is that Philip Charles MacKenzie gave up acting to become a director. Originally slated to just be a guest star in the pilot episode, his Donald Maltby character quickly became the most popular character on "Brothers". MacKenzie's wonderful, full-tilt performance as Donald prevents this from being one of the biggest tear-jerker episodes of any sitcom.

    Russell Maltby returns to Philadelphia and drops by the Point After. He bumps into Donald on the way out, not recognizing him. Donald, however, immediately realizes it's his estranged father. Joe and Cliff make attempts to get the two together, but the attempts fall through (not to mention the door to Donald's apartment). Russell gets upset with the Waters boys interfering ("Who are you," he snaps, "60 Minutes?"). Donald wants to talk to his dad, but he overhears Russell accusing Donald's being gay of being what "pulled the trigger" that killed their relationship. The only way Donald can see his father, who has been diagnosed as terminally ill, is to sneak into the hospital disguised as a nurse.

    The drama in the episode is perfectly balanced by exceptional comedy. The physical comedy is where MacKenzie excelled throughout the entire series. He realizes that Russell does not want to talk to Donald, so he sneaks into his father's room dressed as a nurse (a FEMALE nurse). He asks questions on the pretense of filling out Russell's forms. His reaction to some of the facts he discovers takes the edge of the climactic meeting between the two. When Russell says he was born in Norfolk, Donald quips, "Look at this, I'm a southern belle!" The episode ends when Russell acknowledges that he knows it is Donald under the wig and the nurse's uniform.

    This episode received a considerable amount of publicity before it aired because of the fact that Jerry Lewis (yes, THAT Jerry Lewis) directed the episode; however, that is not what makes this episode memorable. The excellent script from series executive producers Stu Silver and Greg Antonacci was poignantly brought to life by the cast. A painful episode to watch, especially for anyone who has suffered through a period of estrangement from a parent, but it is an episode that is must viewing, not only for this series but for 80s sitcoms.moreless

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