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Pump up the volume

FAMILY! Brothers and Sisters, Channel 4, 8.30 & 10.00pm

Brothers and SistersIt's that age-old TV problem, when the premise of a show doesn't really sound that great even if the show itself is actually pretty awesome. It's a problem we had repeatedly when trying to get people to watch Veronica Mars, after our cries of "hey, watch this show about a sassy teenage private eye!" fell on deaf ears. Similarly, when we first heard about this show, our response was along the lines of "well, that sounds boring". But, in a rather canny marketing move, pictures of hot guys making out started appearing on YouTube and we discovered they were actually scenes from this show, which got our interest up. (And only our interest, thank you - we'll have no cheap smutty jokes here.)

We've had the good fortune to have had a preview of the first episode (Channel 4 are actually showing two episodes tonight, using this to bookend Big Brother), and we can honestly say we quite enjoyed it. It's not exactly revolutionary, and there are some of those annoying bits of expository dialogue shorthand that are thrown in at the very beginning (watch for the super-lame bit where Calista Flockhart is on the phone to her gay brother as he makes it very clear indeed to the audience that he is The Gay Brother), but by and large it's interesting and well-written and the cast is extremely strong (Sally Field, Calista Flockhart, Rachel Griffiths, Balthazar Getty, Rob Lowe in later episodes etc etc etc).

As for what it's actually about, you can probably guess most of it: large family, children are all grown-up and have developed very different personalities, lots of interpersonal squabbles and lots of people sighing and looking quite put-upon (Rachel Griffiths does this a lot, but she does it very well so we don't mind). There's also the obligatory Big Secret and Tragic Life-Changing Event that happens in the first episode. It's a bit like Six Feet Under, if we have to compare it to something, but the humour is less black and it's less surreal. And fewer funerals, hopefully, even if they do have a sufficiently large cast to weather a cull or two. At least it's not trying to be bloody Lost, so it merits a quick look-in for that alone.

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According to Marxist theory, cultural forms such as opera, classical music and the literary works of Shakespeare all fall under the heading of high culture. Low culture refers to a wide variety of cultural themes that are characterised by their consumption by the masses. We might not be Marxists, but we do know we loved Footballers Wives. If you do too, you'll know what this is all about.

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