- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2006

Band of ‘Brotherhood’

Blood is thicker than water, but not as deep as the cesspool of corruption coursing through Showtime’s newest series.

“Brotherhood,” which debuts at 10 p.m. Sunday, follows two Rhode Island siblings who operate on not so opposite sides of the law. Rising political star Tommy Caffee (Jason Clarke, “Rabbit-Proof Fence”) gets things done the old-fashioned way — through shady handshake deals and arm-twisting. Brother Michael (Jason Isaacs, “The Patriot”) is a gangster through and through, but one who finds a way to squeeze vigilante justice into his daily planner.

The two are not only linked through bloodlines but by past dealings, some of which bubble to the surface on Sunday’s premiere. The fuse is lit by a murder within the show’s opening moments. A bigoted foreman gets shoveled to death by a black worker, sparking a racially charged sideshow that would make the Big Apple proud.

Tommy tries to keep the political fallout to a minimum, especially given his ties to the construction project where the violence erupted. That gets harder when Michael reappears after a seven-year absence. The two share a warm reunion but it’s clear Michael’s re-emergence will complicate Tommy’s life in ways that could liven up Showtime’s pedestrian lineup.

The leads, as well as Annabeth Gish as Tommy’s wife, show off credible Rhode Island accents, and the film’s gritty backdrop plays perfectly against the political brutality on display.

We’ll forgive an unnecessary adultery subplot spilled in the opener should the show live up to its initial promise.

Showtime has yet to find a series compelling enough to rival HBO’s original series. Both “The L Word” and “Queer as Folk” spoke mostly to niche audiences.

If “Brotherhood” isn’t a breakthrough, it’s at least a step in the right direction.

Movie hits on cable

Tomorrow, HBO and Cinemax revisit two of last summer’s biggest movie hits, with back-to-back premieres beginning at 8 p.m.

First up: “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (8 p.m. on HBO) finds Steve Carell as Andy Stitzer, a virginal middle-age electronics salesman whose passel of co-workers are determined to bring about his deflowering. Seemingly inept in the art of love, Andy’s buddies dole out riotously worthless advice — leading him to try everything from picking up extremely drunk women to undergoing a brutal body wax. Destined for lifelong chastity, things look like they’re about to change when Andy meets Trish (Catherine Keener), a single 40-year-old mom of three. But the two begin their relationship with a no-sex policy.

At 10 p.m., Cinemax serves up “The Wedding Crashers,” with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as John Beckwith and Jeremy Grey, a pair of committed womanizers who sneak into weddings to attract new prey — unsuspecting women who are enthralled with the romantic occasion. But the dubious duo find themselves at odds when John (Mr. Wilson) falls for Claire Cleary (Rachel McAdams), the daughter of the U.S. treasury secretary.

Changes afoot at ABC

ABC is adding a second edition of “Primetime” to its summer schedule, and its fall newcomer “Let’s Rob … ” has been rebranded “The Knights of Prosperity,” notes thefutoncritic.com.

“Primetime: Medical Mysteries” will debut July 26 at 10 p.m. and will run for at least five weeks. A second hour of “Lost” repeats had been airing in the 10 p.m. slot since “Commander-In-Chief” ended last month.

The network gave no reason for “Rob’s” title change, though the new moniker refers to the name of the “gang” that’s the centerpiece of the show.

Donal Logue, Maz Jobrani, Sofia Vergara, Kevin Michael Richardson, Lenny Venito and Josh Grisetti star in the new 30-minute series which was created by Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman.

ABC has yet to announce a premiere date for the series, which will air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. beginning this fall.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse and Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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