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'Brothers & Sisters': A good ol' hat trick

November 10, 2008 | 10:32 am

If "Brothers & Sisters" were a magic trick, it would be the one in which the magician pulls a never-ending stream of fabric out of what the audience believes is an empty hat. Just when you think you're viewing something simple, POOF! There's more to it ... and it keeps on going and going.

Kitty and Robert's adoption story seemed simple enough. After a long wait and her own personal struggles with conceiving, Kitty finally gets the chance to be a mom. To boot, her would-be adopted child would have been mixed-race with excellent intellectual pedigree — if Robert doesn't win the presidency, Baby McAllister could! Her stoicism in last week's episode must have been a signal to last night's troubles because those chances are ruined when she second guesses the birth mom's decision. I really hope there's a bright light at the end of this tunnel. I know these hoops are written to test Kitty's mettle, but I'm ready to see Calista Flockhart flex her comedic chops again. In fact, I'm ready for everyone in the show to start being funny again.

The great thing about the show was its ability to juxtapose life's hardships with its frivolities through the eyes of these strong-willed, complex characters. Along with the pain of death, infidelity, addiction and divorce, there were gems like Nora getting arrested for smoking marijuana and the hilarious post-coital conference calls among the siblings. There was both a heart and a funny bone there that seems to be lacking in this third season.

Last night's attempt at comedy was the George-Elton scene at the anniversary party, but that didn't make up for the fact that the whole George Lafferty story itself was so convoluted. I understand it's a complicated situation and he has every right to examine his options, but the back-and-forth was so exhausting. Perhaps it's also the fact that it's such a retread of the Rebecca story that makes it so tedious.

A relationship that has the potential of becoming tedious is Robert and Kevin's. They were bound to butt heads, and after last night I'm not quite so sure it's a good match. Obviously there's a steep learning curve for Kevin, and it's always fun to see him squirm a bit. But what this story needs is more of the banter between them than Robert constantly rearing his angry, spiteful head. He too needs to return to being likable.

Since the theme of the episode was magic and the "principle of misdirection," I hope the show itself will take out its wand and perform a trick, one that will make us believe that stories we thought were old hat really do have never-ending streams of substance and comedy.

— Enid Portuguez