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Exec produced by JJ Abrams ("Lost") and created by Dana Stevens (the writer of "For Love of the Game"), "What About Brian?" was heavily promoted and looked like another successful addition to the ABC line-up. However, despite critical praise, the show never quite caught on with audiences; while it was renewed for a second season, the second season was eventually cut back before the show was cancelled. Maybe it's the 9PM Monday time slot, where "Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip" wasn't able to succeed, either.

The series focuses on video game designer Brian O'Hara (Brian Watson), who is the only one of his group of friends to remain single. His friends - parents Dave (Rick Gomez) and Deena (Amanda Detmer); Brian's older sister, Nic (Rosanna Arquette) and much younger Angelo (Raoul Bova) and Marjorie (Sarah Lancaster) and Adam (Matthew Davis) always try to set him up, and he remains the third wheel when everyone goes out. In the opening episode, he takes things a little too quickly, believing that he's meant to be with a girl (Amy Jo Johnson, from "Felicity", now looking more like Jennifer Garner) he got in a car accident with, who turns out to be a nutcase that locks him out of his apartment.

Meanwhile, Brian gets a talk from his best friend's girlfriend, Marjorie ( Sarah Lancaster, in a terrific performance) about how he's too good a guy and a person to keep dating and not search for true love. While Brian listens, the words eventually fade out and all he knows is that he's really in love with Marjorie. When Adam (Matthew Davis) decides to make a pact with Brian to break up with their girlfriends, Brian sees his opportunity - although things don't go as he planned when Adam gets engaged to Marjorie.

Where "What About Brian?" succeeds is the comedy, as the show's dialogue during the lighter scenes is fast and often funny. Where the show doesn't work quite as well is the dramatic side of things, as the show's rather breezy quality seems a touch too light when the series ventures into some of the more serious topics, such as martial fidelity. Another issue is Marjorie and Adam, who aren't believable. Brian falls for Marjorie, but she's with Adam. However, it's one of those instances where Brian is made to be clearly the better choice, as Adam is presented as a bit of a jerk and it's not entirely clear why Marjorie is with him at all.

Still, I liked most of these characters enough to get involved in their stories, despite some flaws. I didn't always like the way the characters handled their problems (one couple has marital issues, so the wife suggests they have an open marriage - huh?), nor did I like how the show did: the whole Marjorie situation is handled messily - not "real" messy, but "the writers wrote themselves into a corner" messy.

The addition of new characters (there's already about 7, then the series adds more) and new situations (Brian eventually becomes the manager of his apartment building) in the second season just comes too quickly in the show's run, which started with a very short first season where the audience had just a few episodes to get to know the core characters. Some of the changes and situations on the show don't feel natural, but as if the writers were trying to work things out on the fly.

The performances are generally good, as Watson carries the lead role well. However, the light of the series is Lancaster, who's sweet, likable and charming as the object of Brian's desire. She deserves better than how the character is handled. Also good in supporting efforts are Arquette and Detmer. While I didn't like the entire cast - Davis is bland, for one - it's clear that these actors are enjoying their roles and the chemistry between them is evident.

Overall, I remain mixed about "What About Brian?" (a different title would have helped, too.) Overall, I found "Brian" watchable despite its faults (which are unfortunate, as the elements are in place for a pleasant enough romantic comedy/drama.) Had the show developed the situations and characters more gradually and made the situations more realistic, the series could have possibly caught on more. As is, the light and funny side of the series works more often than not and the series should have stuck with what it does (or did) best.

This set includes the entire series - the short first season and the full second season. An additional episode, "What Happens in Vegas", is also included.

Season 1

1. 1- 1 16 Apr 06 Pilot
2. 1- 2 17 Apr 06 Two in Twenty-Four
3. 1- 3 24 Apr 06 Moving Day
4. 1- 4 1 May 06 The Importance of Being Brian
5. 1- 5 8 May 06 Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Season 2

6. 2- 1 9 Oct 06 What About Second Chances...
7. 2- 2 16 Oct 06 What About the Wedding...
8. 2- 3 23 Oct 06 What About Denial...
9. 2- 4 30 Oct 06 What About the Fish...
10. 2- 5 13 Nov 06 What About Angelo's Ashes...
11. 2- 6 20 Nov 06 What About What Was Supposed to Be…
12. 2- 7 4 Dec 06 What About First Steps…
13. 2- 8 11 Dec 06 What About Secrets…
14. 2- 9 18 Dec 06 What About True Confessions...
15. 2-10 8 Jan 07 What About the Tangled Web…
16. 2-11 15 Jan 07 What About the Exes...
17. 2-12 22 Jan 07 What About Marjorie...
18. 2-13 29 Jan 07 What About the Lake House...
19. 2-14 12 Feb 07 What About Finding Your Place…
20. 2-15 19 Feb 07 What About Temptations…
21. 2-16 5 Mar 07 What About Strange Bedfellows…
22. 2-17 12 Mar 07 What About All That Glitters…
23. 2-18 19 Mar 07 What About Secret Lovers…
24. 2-19 26 Mar 07 What About Calling All Friends...


The DVD

VIDEO: "What About Brian?" is presented by Buena Vista Home Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Presentation quality was generally terrific, aside from a few minor concerns. Sharpness and detail were occasionally a bit problematic, but despite a few soft moments, most scenes looked crisp and detailed. While some slight artifacting was occasionally spotted, no edge enhancement or other concerns were seen. The show's warm color palette looked bright and warm, with nice saturation and no smearing or other issues. Black level looked solid and flesh tones looked natural, as well.

SOUND: The series is presented with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Given the dialogue-driven nature of the series, the audio was mostly front-heavy. The rear speakers occasionally kicked in some light reinforcement of the music, but otherwise this was a straightforward presentation with fine audio quality.

EXTRAS: Creator Dana Stevens offers a commentary for the pilot episode and "What About Calling All Friends". We get the unaired episode ("What Happens in Vegas") with introduction from Stevens, a short featurette where the cast and creator chat about what might have been in Season 3 and a "making of" featurette.

Final Thoughts: "What About Brian?" starts off on a positive note, but the series starts to make changes a little too quickly and it starts to become too soapy for its own good. I liked the cast and thought the humor often worked well - it's when the series ventures too far into dramatic territory that it doesn't click. Fans of the series who want to see it again should, by all means, pick up this nice set. However, those new to the series who missed it and are interested in viewing should try it out as a rental first.



DVD Information





What About Brian: Complete Series
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
1.78:1
Dolby Digital 5.1
1024 minutes
Subtitles: English
Rated NR
Dual Layer:Yes
Anamorphic:Yes
Region:1
Available At Amazon.com: What About Brian: Complete Series DVD