Review for The Brothers - Series 2
‘The Brothers’ is a drama-soap which ran for an incredible seven series, from 1972 – 1976. I missed the release of Series 1 but was delighted to be able to pick up with the second series, released in full by Simply Media. Despite it being, in some respects, a very typical hour long ‘soap drama’ series it’s utterly compelling viewing; really well scripted and with an absolutely top notch cast. It does precisely what any great soap should do which is to propel you to the next episode with each (almost) hour long episode an absolute pleasure to watch. But to be clear, the 9 out of 10 I’ve given it as part of this review is not to suggest that it should sit aside a 9 out of 10 movie like ‘Citizen Kane’ or ‘Vertigo’, but rather to reflect its ranking within its own genre – TV soap.
This type of drama (based around the work place, giving the general populace a glimpse of life in the board-room) was actually already very popular at the time. ‘The Plane Makers’, ‘Man at the Top’ and ‘Hadleigh’ being just three examples of pre-1970 boardroom soaps. But ‘The Brothers’, based on Series 2 at least, is utterly brilliant, not least due to the chemistry of the brothers themselves and their scheming Mother; in some regards setting a terribly British template for the US to eventually follow with shows like ‘Dallas’ and ‘Dynasty’.
The show was a prime-time hit, co-created by N.J. Crisp (Dixon of Dock Green), and featured a family run distribution business run by three very distinctively different brothers. Edward is the clear alpha-male leader (played superbly by Patrick O’Connell – The Fraud Squad) and is the Chairman of the company. He is supported by his meeker , more sensitive brother, Brian, who runs the company accounts (Richard Easton) and his playboy younger brother, the altogether hipper David (Robin Chadwick). The three have taken over running their late Father’s business though the running is rarely smooth – either in their complex private lives, or in the business itself which is rarely on an even keel.
Like all good soaps, this season sees several ‘story-arcs’ (as they’re now known but ‘threads’ would be how they were described back in the day). The first is the cooling of relations between Edward and board member Jennifer (Jennifer Wilson) as Edward seems inexplicably drawn back into the arms of an ex.
Needing land to expand , they discover that a smaller haulage company is also in the running having offered the owners more money to secure the space. Run by a brash Australian chancer, the only solution seems to be to try and buy the other company out and install the owner onto their board as a partner. But it’s not long until the Union get wind of it (this was 1973 after all) and strikes a possibility – terrible timing with a big new contract in the offing.
In the meantime, Brian’s marriage is on the rocks and this is beginning to affect his performance, with him making a series of mistakes and miss-judgments. In the meantime, he has met a local teacher who clearly shares his taste for good music and theatre and all goes well – until his wife returns back on the scene.
In the background, the mother (Jean Anderson) is consistently scheming with all and sundry to get what she wants for her sons and family - and always with an innocent smile.
For a show from 1973 the picture quality is consistently good throughout and, apart from the prevalence of smoking and (even teachers) drinking at lunchtime, it really doesn’t feel dated except in all the good ways, with old cars and fashions making it a veritable time-machine.
This is, quite simply, television drama at its finest and the series comes highly recommended.
Please Note: The following episode precis may contain spoilers. Source IMDB 2015.
A Family Gathering
After a month abroad to recuperate from her heart attack, Mary suddenly returns on the day Barbara is celebrating her 18th birthday. Bill Riley catches an Australian named Carter surveying the land around Hammond Transport. Edward and Jennifer's growing relationship is strained by Mary's insistence that he attend her homecoming dinner instead of Barbara's birthday party. The brothers learn that Edward, distracted by marital problems, hasn't finalized plans to acquire surrounding property needed for crucial expansion of the firm, and Carter has outbid them. Mary ...
Wheels and Deals
Edward orders his brothers and Jennifer to uncover any information they can on Carter, regardless of the methods used to obtain it. Barbara receives a very personal 18th birthday gift from Mary. Unable to outbid Carter, who refuses to back down and attempts to lure Bill Riley away from Hammond, the directors consider a takeover of Carter's firm. Jennifer avoids Edward, and he seeks companionship elsewhere. Nancy Lincoln piques Mary's curiosity. David has a chance encounter with a very dispassionate Jill. Brian spends an enjoyable evening with Pamela Graham, Carol's ...
The Trojan Horse
Carter snoops into the private lives of the brothers. Pamela Graham convinces Brian that he and Ann must settle the question of sending Carol away. The meeting to discuss Hammond's takeover of Carter's firm doesn't go as planned. Barbara wants to know if her mother is still contemplating marriage. Jennifer infuriates Edward by exposing Mary's machinations to keep them apart. Mary meddles in Brian and Ann's marriage. Carter entices David to his penthouse where he finally makes his intentions known. Edward angrily confronts Mary and issues a threat that cuts her to the ...
Snakes and Ladders
Barbara and Jennifer quarrel over her imminent departure. After finding a sherry glass with Pamela's lipstick on the rim, Ann renews her interest in Brian. Carter makes outrageous demands to secure the merger with Hammond, but the brothers fear if they let him go, they will have Borret in their back yard. Mary stops round the Kingsley flat to glean information about Edward. Carter's comments to Barbara about Robert Hammond infuriate Jennifer, but she later realizes he might be a useful catalyst. David reconnects with Jill. Barbara convinces Jennifer to attend Carter's...
Mary and Jennifer are each surprised at one another's attendance at Harry Carter's party, making for a rather uncomfortable evening. A moody Ted tries to use Nancy Lincoln to forget Jennifer, while David reacquaints himself with a rather dispassionate Jill. Bill Riley and Ted are at loggerheads over Harry Carter's non-union drivers. Barbara shares a ride with artist Nicholas Fox. Brian has an invitation for Pamela Graham, but the sudden arrival of an unexpected guest may change his plans.
Tension over Carter's non-union workers results in the threat of a driver's strike at Hammond Transport, just as Ted negotiates a prosperous new contract with the company's oldest and most lucrative client. After being rebuffed, Ann manipulates Brian and plays games with his affections. While Ted sidebars Bill Riley and the union rep, Carter attempts to get the remaining board members on side. Mary and Jill become acquainted. Barbara meets Nicholas Fox for drinks. Pamela Graham advises Brian why they should not see one another. Jill's roommate Julie invites David over...
Declarations of Independence
Edward admonishes Mary as she interferes in David's and Brian's personal life. Jill chastises David for his rudeness to Julie, but later, he secretly meets with Julie again. Edward confronts Jennifer about the distance between them, and urges her to remain friends. He tells all to Nancy Lincoln, though her reaction is not at all what he expected. Tensions mount at Hammond Transport after two of the best drivers quit, and an angry Edward vents his frustration on one of Carter's men. Ann's bitchiness toward Pamela Graham, prompts Brian to erupt with uncharacteristic...
Errors of Judgement
Mary insists upon meeting Nancy Lincoln, but afterward, issues a stern warning to Edward. David phones Julie to request another meeting, and she alternately torments him and amuses Jill, who is unaware of the identity of the caller. Brian seeks answers from Pamela about what motivates Ann. Nicholas invites Barbara to join him in Paris, creating more tense moments between Barbara and Jennifer. Brian and Edward conceal the company's debt from the other board members, but when truth outs, Carter moves to block Edward from appeasing their best customer. Hammond ...
The brothers meet with a union representative and scramble to avoid a strike action, as Hammond Transport's future hangs in the balance. Jill brings Julie round to meet David's mother, while Julie continues to subtly taunt David about their secret affair. Harry Carter pursues Jennifer, and Barbara wonders if Jennifer just wants to spite Ted. Barbara prepares for her trip abroad with Nicholas. Ann takes advantage of Brian's preoccupation with work to move forward with her life.
Edward attempts to truncate the strike and claim the debt of Parker, who is mysteriously incommunicado. Brian discovers that Ann has made an appalling move on their property. Later, Ann confronts Pamela Graham, and Pamela has an unhappy suggestion for Brian. Jill receives devastating news. Julie takes advantage of Jill's situation to tempt David again. Edward explodes with jealousy after Carter leads him to the wrong conclusion about Jennifer. Carter admits to Jennifer that he's secretly playing his own game, and when he faces the striking workers, his endgame becomes...
A Marriage Is Arranged
Fearing bankruptcy, Ted is dispatched abroad to locate Parker, while behind his back, Carter urges the other board members to select a new chairman. Pamela refuses to be a pawn in Brian and Ann's marital games. Brian advises David that a housekeeper is cheaper than a wife. Jill asks David a direct question about Julie, and later confides in Mary that David has lied to her for the first time. Barbara arrives home early from Paris. David and Bill Riley deliver devastating news, then David receives very different news. Carter forces an emergency board meeting to oust Ted...
Women Are Trumps
The firm's worst fears are realized when Ted returns with word of Parker. Later, a paranoid Ted decides to do whatever it takes to oust Carter, but the price is too steep. Barbara confesses to Jennifer her disillusionment with Nicholas Fox. David's reaction to her good news surprises Jill. Nancy has something important to tell Ted. Brian warns Ann that they can't make the same mistake twice. Jill and Mary inform Ted that they may have found a solution to his problem with Carter.
No Hard Feelings
Ted's proposal to save Hammond Transport prompts unexpected opposition when put to a vote at the board meeting. Brian discovers that the more things change in his marriage to Ann, the more they stay the same. Barbara admits losing interest in her art career, as well as Nicholas Fox. Before saying goodbye, Carter offers unsolicited advice to the brothers, but Mary has a few unwelcome words for him, too. Julie contrives to meet David on the eve of his wedding. Mary reveals family secrets to Jill and reiterates her disgust for Jennifer.