We watched the first episode of latest US import Brothers and Sisters last night (second episode recorded for later). It was an impressive opening: the interwoven lives and relationships of the main characters were introduced skilfully and without too much directorial sleight of hand. The cast is impressive too. In an ensemble performance such as this, it's invidious to single out individual actors, but I thought Rachel Griffiths' performance as 'working mum' Sarah was particularly striking. At times her character and story brought back memories of that other icon of fraught domesticity, Hope in thirtysomething - but that's not surprising, considering that Ken Olin, who played Hope's husband Michael in that series, is an executive producer for the new show. The complex mother-daughter relationship between Sally Field's and Calista Flockhart's characters was also well set up.
This was genuinely 'grown up' television, managing to interweave personal dramas with contemporary political issues (9/11, Afghanistan, conservative chat-shows) in a way that wasn't tokenistic or clunkingly obvious.