What About Brian: The Complete Series – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Dana Stevens

Barry Watson….. Brian Davis
Matthew Davis….. Adam Hillman
Rosanna Arquette….. Nicole Varzi
Rick Gomez….. Dave Greco
Amanda Detmer….. Deena Greco
Sarah Lancaster….. Marjorie Seaver

Many critics agree that What About Brian was not given enough of a chance. In a day and age when many critically-acclaimed series fall by the wayside, the J.J. Abrams produced Brian started as a mid-season replacement, with only five episodes airing on ABC in 2006 with a full-order of 22 episodes for its second season (with only 19 making it to TV).

Set in Los Angeles, the show’s central character is Brian Davis (Barry Watson). The 30-something bachelor is the only one in his tight circle of friends who is not in a committed relationship (with no immediate possibilities on the horizon). The first season of the show primarily involves Brian’s amusing-but-pathetic dating experiences.

The underrated cast also includes best friend and lawyer Adam Hillman (Matthew Davis), who is dating pediatrician Marjorie Seaver (Sarah Lancaster). Rounding out Davis’ immediate trio of male friends is Dave Greco (Rick Gomez) who works with the him at Zap Monkey (their video game company) who is married to Deena Greco (Amanda Detmer). The Greco’s also have three children. Finally, there is Brian’s older sister Nicole Varzi (Rosanna Arquette) who is married to Angelo Varzi (Raoul Bova).

There is a stark difference between the first and second season.

When the show debuted, the focus was on the natural charm of its characters. Brian’s dating miscues along with his prevalent feelings for his best friend’s girlfriend (who soon becomes his best friend’s fiancée). Deena’s lack of satisfaction with her marriage coupled with the jaw-dropping suggestion to her husband that they explore other partners. Nicole’s inability to get pregnant naturally. While the plotlines were obviously dramatized for the purposes of TV, they were still all very real and very relatable. The problem was that while the show attempted to be serialized, it was the antithesis of must-see TV in the sense that one could easily catch up if an episode was missed. It did not demand loyalty from its viewers.

Still, the network stuck with the program and gave it a vote of confidence with the second season order (presumably because of J.J. Abrams renowned success with ABC’s hit show Lost).

The second season of the show really seemed to push storylines further and definitely added some star power. After Angelo’s character was cut, married couple Jimmy (Jason George) and Ivy (Amanda Foreman) were brought on. Jimmy was another attorney at Adam’s first and Ivy owned a bar where the group hung out. The second season also saw the arrival of four new love interests for Brian including Stephanie (former World Wrestling Entertainment diva Stacy Kiebler), Bridget (Krista Allen), Natasha (Tiffani Thiessen) and Laura (Jessica Szohr).

There is no denying the fact that for the show’s sophomore season, the writers basically threw every tried and true cliché storyline of traditional evening soap operas against the wall to see which ones would stick. The Brian/Adam/Marjorie triangle got even more complicated as the wedding approached, after Marjorie told Adam about the kiss that she shared with his best friend. Angelo’s death left Nicole to take care of their newborn by herself. ZapMonkey was a financial disaster, as Brian was forced to take on the one job that he swore he never would. Deena and Dave attempted to repair their broken marriage, but the significant damage was already done.

The show just never seemed to find itself and as a result, had a hard time finding an audience. While the first season was all about character development, this made it hard to see the show as being mandatory viewing. While the second season was great, it was hard for the show to recover from not picking up a big audience when it first debuted. It was just one that was missed, but certainly not by critics.

Episode Guide:

1. Pilot
2. Two In Twenty-Four
3. Moving Day
4. The Importance Of Being Brian
5. Sex, Lies And Videotape
6. What About Second Chances
7. What About The Wedding=
8. What About Denial.
9. What About The Fish
10. What About Angelo’s Ashes
11. What About What Was Supposed To Be
12. What About First Steps
13. What About Secrets
14. What About True Confessions
15. What About The Tangled Web
16. What About The Exes
17. What About Marjorie
18. What About The Lake House
19. What About Finding Your Place
20. What About Temptations
22. What About All That Glitters
23. What About Secret Lovers
24. What About Calling All Friends

The Video:
The video is presented in an anamorphic aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Picture quality is above average.

The Audio:
The audio is presented in English 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound. The sound quality is good. The subtitles stand out with French and Spanish options available as well as closed captioning support.

Special Features:

The special features make the DVD set worth buying alone. There is an unaired episode, a pair of audio commentaries and two featurettes.

Exclusive Unaired Episode: “What Happens In Vegas:” The extra episode that never made it to air runs for about 40 minutes and was supposed to follow the first season finale. It begins with an introduction by the show’s creator, Dana Stevens.

Calling All Friends: The Story Of What About Brian: This featurette runs for about 13 minutes and features interviews with the cast and crew about the show. It also includes behind-the-scenes footage.

What About 3: The Season That Never Was: This featurette runs for about three minutes and 30 seconds and is phenomenal in that it offers an idea as to where the show would have gone if it lasted another season. While it could have been longer, it will definitely be a standout for fans of the show.

Audio Commentaries: The show’s creator, Dana Stevens, comments on the “Pilot” and “What About Calling All Friends” episodes.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for
What About Brian: The Complete Series
(OUT OF 10)