A visit with “Brothers”

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I’m no Hollywood insider. Nikki Finke does not rely on me for her tips and I don’t ever expect to attend the Vanity Fair Oscar after party. Nevertheless, there’s one thing I do know about show business: personality goes a very long way in “this town.” And so a few of us press people recently found ourselves the subject of a 50 megaton charm offensive by the four stars of the new Fox sitcom, “Brothers” — C.C.H. Pounder, Carl Weathers, and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, and one extremely enthusiastic newbie, former New York Giants Defensive End and Fox Sports commentator Michael Strahan. I haven’t seen the show itself yet, which premieres tonight at 8 p.m./7 central, but the visit was certainly a performance I won’t be forgetting.

From long-time writer-producer Don Reo, whose credits run from “M*A*S*H” to “Blossom” and “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Brothers” stars Strahan as a former NFL star who winds up moving in to the house he bought for his parents when a financial reversal puts him in the metaphorical poorhouse. Since this is a sitcom, naturally there will be conflict with his brother, played by Mitchell, and the usual issues with parents Weathers and Pounder. One ace the show will be playing will be guest appearances by some fairly big names playing themselves, including former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, hip-hop star T-Pain, celubutante Kim Kardashian, and the great Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band. Also appearing will be well actress Tichina Arnold from “Chris” and, not playing himself, rap superstar Snoop Dog. Stand-up comic Lenny Clarke will be playing a neighbor on the show.

The show has been getting some additional attention for a perhaps less fortunate reason, in that while African-American actors are featured in more diverse roles these days, it’s the only current show on the networks schedules with a predominantly black cast. That’s largely a reversal of the trend of the past when the vast bulk of decent TV parts for nonwhite actors were on shows like “The Jeffersons” and “Good Times” as well as some of the later, more controversial shows aimed at black audiences like “Martin.”

The first to meet the press were Carl Weathers, perhaps still most famed as Rocky Balboa’s venerable opponent, Apollo Creed, and C.C.H. Pounder, who is taking a break from her usual intense, gravitas-laden, roles on shows like “The Shield” and seems to be enjoying every minute of it. In fact, I’m here to tell you that extremely skilled Ms. Pounder is downright bubbly in person. You heard me, “bubbly” — but in a very smart sort of way.

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The mood was light right off the bat with more than one of us entertainment journos confessing a complete lack of knowledge of sports and Ms. Pounder joining in. Weathers was the exception. “Well, I played for the Oakland Raiders so I hope I know a little bit about football.” And that somehow prompted an impersonation of Butterfly McQueen from “Gone with the Wind” from Pounder. I guess you had to be there.

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Aqua Teen Hunger Force 6

I don’t know what it is about “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” that causes me to be forever surprised at how funny it is, but I think perhaps it’s because the concept is so downright surreal. Nonetheless, “Aqua Teen Hunger Force 6” (which actually contains the whole of Season 5 of the series) contains just as many laughs as the previous collections. The first few episodes, however, feature little or no appearances from Frylock, Master Shake, and Meatwad, due to their being cocooned in the desert by their vampire-esque landlord Marcula; ever the caring neighbor, Carl immediately tries to rent out their place to a bunch of robots, but his greatest spotlight comes in the third episode, “Sirens,” when he meets another set of new neighbors, voiced by Kelly Hogan, Neko Case, and John Kruk. (Kruk plays himself; the other two do not.) Other guest voices during the season include David Cross, T-Pain, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Scott Adsit (“30 Rock”), Jon Benjamin (a.k.a. Coach McGuirk on “Home Movies”), and Kristen Schaal (“Flight of the Conchords”).

There are four previously-unaired episodes, the best of which is “Shake Like Me,” where Master Shake is bitten by a radioactive black man and becomes black himself. Scientifically implausible, you say? Surely no more so than an anthropomorphic Happy Meal. Of the special features, sports fans will particularly enjoy the “Carl’s Pissed” shorts, where the hairy undershirt-wearing gentleman moans and groans about various events in the world of sports, but there are also other oddities that fans of the show’s bizarre comedic sensibilities will enjoy. Those who do not belong to the Adult Swim cult, however, will almost certainly not…and that goes not just for the bonus material but also for “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” as a whole.

Click to buy “Aqua Teen Hunger Force 6”

  

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