Showtime Sundays, 10 p.m. (ET)
Think of Showtime’s Brotherhood as the premium cable equivalent of an Irish stew. Instead of meat and potatoes, the network’s latest original offering doles out a Cain and Abel story that blends chunks of gangsterism and family values — well, sort of. The ingredients will be familiar to fans of vintage Warner Bros. tough-guy movies, as well as more contemporary tales of blood ties and bloodshed. While viewers may not be hooked right away, the cumulative impact of the first season’s 11 episodes is dramatically satisfying, building to a genuinely engrossing closer.
Beautifully shot on location, Brotherhood, which premiered earlier this month, centers around the Caffee brothers — Tommy (Jason Clarke), an ambitious state representative, and his mobster sibling, Michael (Jason Isaacs) — each of whom is determined to be king of “The Hill,” a working-class Irish neighborhood in Providence, R.I.
The series juggles an impressive number of subplots and vivid characters. It also does a great job of showing how some degree of corruption insinuates itself into virtually every character’s life — whether through backroom scheming, marital infidelity or a misguided sense of loyalty.
And premium cable subscribers accustomed to a certain amount of gratuitous violence will not be disappointed. Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that if Brotherhood tenders any moral, it’s this: Family ties are not easy to sever, but ears are. —George Vernadakis
Bravo Wednesday, July 19 (11 p.m.)
Jackie Warner, the owner of tony Sky Sport and Spa in Beverly Hills, Calif., is a no-nonsense fitness maverick who counts $400 sessions with such “A-listers” as singer Jody Whatley and former Playmate and The Amazing Race 6 diva Victoria Fuller. In the six-episode, one-hour docudrama Work Out, viewers are supposed to get a taste for how she nitpicks, er, manages, the seven members of her elite training crew. Unfortunately that exercise comes up short as we only really get good looks into flirtatious Rebecca, combative Brian and newcomer Jesse. Much more time is spent — but not unwisely — on Jackie’s squabbles with her fiery Brazilian lover Mimi.
If want to see how your personal trainer measures up, the series could have appeal.
Otherwise, you’re better served hitting the gym yourself.
Starting July 25, Work Out will move to its regular Tuesday 10 p.m. time slot. —Mike Reynolds