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Brotherhood (2006 TV series)
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Brotherhood (2006 TV series)

Brotherhood is an American television drama series created by Blake Masters about the intertwining lives of the Irish-American Caffee brothers from Providence, Rhode Island: Tommy (Jason Clarke) is a local politician and Michael (Jason Isaacs) is a professional criminal involved with New England's Irish Mob. The show also features their mother Rose (Fionnula Flanagan), cousin Colin Carr (Br an F. O'Byrne), childhood friend and Rhode Island state detective Declan Giggs (Ethan Embry), Irish mob boss Freddie Cork (Kevin Chapman), Tommy's wife Eileen (Annabeth Gish), and Michael's criminal partner Pete McGonagle (Stivi Paskoski).

Brotherhood was broadcast by the premium cable network Showtime in the United States. It premiered on July 9, 2006 and ended on December 21, 2008, with the show's three seasons consisting of eleven, ten and eight episodes, respectively. The show was not renewed after its third season, which Showtime later confirmed was the last.[1] The series was produced and almost entirely written by Masters and Henry Bromell. It was filmed on location in Providence and Rhode Island.

Brotherhood received widespread critical acclaim—with critics particularly praising Masters and Bromell's nuanced writing and the central performances of Clarke and Isaacs—but did not attract a large audience. The show won a Peabody Award.


  • Production
    • Conception
    • Crew
    • Sets and locations
  • Cast and characters
  • Plot synopsis and episode list
    • Season 1: 2006
    • Season 2: 2007
    • Season 3: 2008
  • End
  • International broadcasters
  • Themes
    • Michael's morality
  • Reception
    • Viewing figures
    • Critical response
    • Awards
  • DVD release
  • References
  • External links



Brotherhood was created by New England native Blake Masters. Prior to creating the series, Masters made a living selling screenplays to film studios; however, he never got an original project produced. Brotherhood was initially conceived as an idea for a feature film; the premise was inspired by the real-life Bulger brothers from Massachusetts: William M. Bulger was a prominent state politician and his brother, James J. Bulger, was the leader of the Irish-American crime family Winter Hill Gang.[2] After some input, Masters decided to adapt it into a television series, reasoning that "the dynamic between the brothers was sustainable and compelling." Masters presented the idea to premium cable network Showtime, who were immediately receptive and financed the production of a pilot episode. After the pilot had been shot, it was shown to the Showtime executives, who ordered an entire season.[3] Because of Masters' inexperience in producing television, Showtime executives asked him to find someone to help him spearhead the project. Masters, a fan of Homicide: Life on the Street, suggested Henry Bromell, who had previously worked on Homicide as a writer/executive producer. A meeting was arranged between Masters and Bromell through Showtime. Bromell was impressed with the pilot and accepted Masters' offer to join the production crew.[4]


Executive producers Masters and Bromell served as showrunners and head writers during the production of the show's three seasons. Masters wrote five episodes of the first and second seasons, which consisted of eleven and ten episodes, respectively, and three of the third eight-episode season; Bromell wrote three episodes of the first season, five of the second and three of the third. The show has had three writers other than Masters and Bromell: the writing team of Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin, who wrote three episodes of the first season and served as co-executive producers, and executive producer Karen Hall, who wrote two episodes of the third season.

The pilot episode, "Mark 8:36", was directed by Australian director Phillip Noyce. Noyce's background in film drew some praise for his strong visual sense direction of the pilot but was also criticized for distracting from the writing and not fitting with the direction of later episodes.[5] Noyce also directed the second season premiere. Veteran television director Ed Bianchi directed seven episodes of the show, including the first and second season finales, making him the show's most frequent director. Other recurring directors include Nick Gomez, who directed three episodes, and Steve Shill, Alik Sakharov and Brian Kirk who directed two episodes each. Jean de Segonzac, Leslie Libman, Thomas Carter, Michael Corrente, Seith Mann and Tim Hunter directed one episode each. Masters and Bromell have also directed the series, with Bromell having directed three episode and Masters two.

Sets and locations

The series was filmed largely on location in Providence, Rhode Island. The Providence Journal editorialized on the production as follows:

Some scenes were filmed at the Olneyville New York System Restaurant in Providence.[6] In May 2007 the show's camera crews went to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, to film various street scenes and buildings in that city for inclusion in future episodes of the show.

Cast and characters

  • Jason Isaacs plays Michael Caffee, a lifelong criminal who has just returned home, after a self-imposed seven-year exile when a hit was put on him, hoping to pick up where he left off.[7]
  • Jason Clarke plays Tommy Caffee, Michael's brother and ambitious member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives who is not above breaking the law himself.[7]
  • Annabeth Gish plays Eileen Caffee, Tommy's lonely wife who tries to fill the void in her life with narcotics and an extramarital affair with the mailman.[7]
  • Kevin Chapman plays Freddie Cork, an Irish-American gang leader and Michael's very stern, no-nonsense boss; he is frequently in conflict with Michael and he often blackmails Tommy.
  • Fionnula Flanagan plays Rose Caffee, the highly manipulative mother of the Caffee brothers.[7]
  • Fiona Erickson plays Mary Rose Caffee, Tommy and Eileen's eldest daughter.
  • Madison Garland plays Lila Caffee, the middle daughter.
  • Kailey Gilbert plays Noni Caffee, the youngest daughter.
  • Ethan Embry plays Declan Giggs,a Rhode Island State Police detective who is investigating the Caffee brothers despite having known them since childhood. He often blurs the line between investigating them and protecting them.[7]
  • Brian F. O'Byrne plays Colin Carr, Michael's Irish cousin and right hand man, from Belfast.

Plot synopsis and episode list

Season 1: 2006

The death of a local irish mob figure, Patrick "Patty" Mullin, allows for the return of Michael Caffee to "The Hill" neighborhood in Providence. Caffee had been in hiding for seven years after the man vowed to kill him. Upon returning he begins to re-assume his old criminal business alongside his friend Pete McConagle. Michael's boss Freddie Cork tries to blackmail Michael's politician brother Tommy Caffee into assigning him lucrative contracts with a threat to kill Michael. Tommy refuses to be swayed and tells Freddie that he does not care about Michael. Michael manages to arrange a temporary truce with Freddie. Eileen Caffee is cheating on her husband Tommy with Carl Hobbs and is also concealing drug use from her family.[8][9]

Michael takes over a local store with threats. Tommy defuses the owners intentions to press charges by passing her on to Declan Giggs, an officer who was once friends with the Caffees. Giggs tells her it is too dangerous to testify against the Irish gangs.[10][11] Michael also takes over a local bar named Mulligans.[12][13] He rekindles his relationship with Kath Parry and realises how much she cares for him when she stands by him through a shoot out with Russian mobsters.[14][15]

Tommy turns to Judd for help in preventing a highway being built through "The Hill" and is forced to give up more of his independence.[16][17] Carl ends his relationship with Eileen.[16][17] Treasury agents raid Rose Caffee's residence looking for counterfeit money belonging to Michael. They are unsuccessful but the scandal costs Tommy further political capital and he pledges his loyalty to the speaker of the house.[18][19] Tommy uses his political influence to turn a profit[20][21] but is outraged when he finds the speaker of the house stealing.[14][15] Tommy maneuvers his way to the house majority leader position.[14][15]

Michael helps Declan dispose of a body after Declan's partner unwittingly shoots an undercover FBI agent. Eileen's drug use intensifies and she is arrested for erratic behavior; Pete also gives in to his addiction and Michael takes him to Alcoholics Anonymous. Tommy's eldest daughter Mary Rose is caught trying some of her mother's drugs by Michael and he gives her a job in his store to keep an eye on her.[20][21] Pete and Eileen realize their common ground.[14][15]

A bus crash on the way back from a football game leaves several residents of "The Hill" dead. The accident was caused by the suicide of Freddie Cork's son, who was openly homosexual. Michael uses this information to manipulate Freddie. Freddie pressures Tommy into ensuring that his son receives a Roman Catholic requiem mass. Carl is also killed and Eileen resolves to atone for her sins. Marty Trio's wife is also killed and he finally decides to work with the police.[22][23]

Neil Caffee arrives in town and Michael and Tommy form an uneasy alliance to get rid of their father. Rose confronts Michael about how he makes his living. Tommy discovers that his daughter has been working for Michael, ending their period of cooperation.[24][25] Everyone in "The Hill" attends a big Irish wedding, as Tommy Caffee tries to avoid a legal trap set up by an ambitious U.S. Attorney, who has promised him immunity if he will testify about Michael's dealing with Freddie. He must also protect his brother from being whacked by Moe Riley, who has been released from prison and is out for revenge. Declan finds his partner may be a dirty cop and must decide where his loyalty lies. He blames Michael for making him "go bad" and pistol whips him.[26][27]

The titles of all episodes in this season are from religious texts.

Season 2: 2007

Showtime renewed the show for a second season, consisting of 10 episodes (bringing the total number of episodes to 21.) Unlike episode titles from season one which were based Bible passages, season two episode titles were based on lyrics from songs written and performed by Bob Dylan. The first episode officially aired on September 30, 2007, with the season finale airing on December 2. However, on July 18, 2007, the first two episodes of season 2 were leaked to the internet via torrent.[28]

The season begins a few months after the conclusion of season one. Michael has survived Declan's attack, though his awareness is compromised and he has no memory of the attack. Michael finds himself shut out of the mob's activity, with Freddie having sold the liquor store while Michael was sick. Desperate to prove his competence, Michael kills a jewish gangster who owes Freddie money, but not before having the first in a series of paralyzing seizures. Tommy has grown closer to Judd as he continues to counter Franklin's efforts against both Michael and himself. Judd asks Tommy to reign in Rep. Paul Carvahlo, the Portuguese representative who is publicly backing a rival (Portuguese) candidate for U.S. senate in the upcoming election. Ellis Franklin has Tommy sit for a deposition about Michael and Freddie, but when he fails to tell Franklin what he wants to hear, Franklin sets up one of his detectives as a businessman looking to bribe Tommy for a state contract. When Tommy sees through the trap, he sets up Carvahlo with the same detective, stalling Franklin's investigation and neutering Carvahlo's support for the rival candidate. Declan spirals out of control after Cassie leaves him and Moe blackmails him, as Moe is the only one who knows Declan tried to kill Michael at the Finnerty wedding. However, Declan assures Moe that if anyone finds out about the wedding, everyone will find out about Moe's deal with the Secret Service.

Season 3: 2008

The third season began airing on November 2, 2008 and consisted of 8 episodes. It ended on December 21, 2008. The titles of all episodes of season three are quotations from Shakespeare.

Season 3 begins in the late summer, and its implied that the events of Season two have had a few months to sink in. Michael is now on medication for his psychosis, although he appears to have developed severe paranoia and his narcissism has worsened. He is still an informant for Franklin, although this relationship is complicated when Paul Carvallo, (the Portuguese politician Tommy set up for bribery charges in Season II) yaks to the feds and Jack Boyle gets Freddie released from prison. With Freddie out, Michael knows that Freddie will contract Nozzolli to kill Michael, so Michael attempts to set Nozzolli up in a scheme to sell HGH from a local dentist. This plan backfires when the dentist is busted by the DEA, and Michael, furious that Franklin did not warn him, makes Franklin "disappear". Tommy is still majority leader, although his unsuccessful attempt at capturing the speakership has subordinated him to the Speaker Donatello's errand boy. This newfound position brings him into contact with Brian Kilpatrick, a developer who wants the state to buy decrepit industrial property on the city's waterfront. Eilleen is now pregnant, which is hampering her ability to carry out her new duties at Social Services. The revelation that Tommy knew Michael was under a hit from Freddie at the Finnerty wedding keeps the brother's relationship on the rocks, and at the end of the episode Tommy proposes to Eilleen that they leave the hill once they've saved enough money. The episode concludes at a meeting between Tommy, KilPatrick, and the President of Bodie Company, with Tommy telling the president that he will get a lucrative stake in the waterfront if he will buy all of the holdings of Tommy's Landowne development company.


On April 7, 2009 rumors began circulating that the show had been canceled. In January, Robert Greenblatt, Showtime s entertainment president, was reportedly noncomittal when asked if Brotherhood would be back.

In an interview with E! online in mid-March 2009, actress Fionnula Flanagan said that the actors had yet to hear from the producers about the fourth season. Also, the Hollywood Reporter has reported that Jason Clarke had been cast in an unnamed pilot for CBS. Kevin Chapman, who plays Freddie, is now cast as Terrence Garrity, brother of the Sean character in the FX series Rescue Me. Television critics also pointed to the end of season three as potentially the end of the series, saying that the finale seemed to convey a sense of closure, wrapping up storylines.

On June 29, 2009, Showtime confirmed that the series would not be renewed, and that the third season DVD would be billed as "The Final Season."[29]

American satellite television provider DirecTV will re-broadcast the series beginning in February 2010.

International broadcasters

Country TV Network(s) Series Premiere Weekly Schedule
Australia Showtime April 2, 2007 Screened on showcase from 2008 onwards
Belgium Acht December, 2010
Brazil FX Latin America and Liv 2008 2010
Bulgaria Fox Crime 2007
Canada The Movie Network and Movie Central Mon-Fri 11pm
Croatia RTL January 21, 2009 Wednesdays 10:00pm.[30]
Finland JIM February 26, 2007
Hong Kong Fox Crime July 16, 2007 Mondays 10pm
Ireland 3e April 15, 2007/October 2006/November 2007
Israel Yes Stars Action 2006
Italy Cult TV September 2008
Japan Fox Crime June 7, 2007 Season 1 Mondays 8:00pm from July 12, 2010 (r.Tu,We,Sa,Su) Season 3 Thursdays 8:00pm from July 15, 2010 (r.Fr,Sa,Su,Mo)
Norway TV2 Zebra September 2008 Tuesdays 9:30pm
Philippines Fox Crime January 2008 Tuesday 10pm
Poland Universal Channel December 2007
Portugal FX September 2007
Slovenia POP TV January 2008 Saturday 10 pm
South Africa M-Net November 2006
Sweden SVT January 2008
Thailand True Series September 18, 2008 Thursday 10pm
Turkey FX Network April 2008 Thursday 10pm
United Kingdom FX Network October 2006
United States Showtime July 9, 2006


The series focuses on the concept of brotherhood through the antagonistic relationship between the Caffee brothers.[5][31][32] Through its examination of family, the show makes loyalty a recurring theme.[2][33] Though the two brothers follow different paths and try to assert their differences from one another, they often prove similar.[5][33] The show portrays Michael and Tommy striving for the good of their neighborhood through politics and crime, which are often portrayed as similar.[5] Corruption and the way it infiltrates families, neighborhoods and governments is another theme.[2] The examination of big city corruption has been compared to the work of Sidney Lumet.[5]

Masters has admitted an intention to make the city of Providence a character in the show.[34] The Hollywood Reporter noted the parallels between the morally grey areas inhabited by the characters and the muted tones of their surroundings.[31] "The Hill" is dominated by Irish Americans and the show has been characterised as examining ethnicity.[5][35]

Michael's morality

In an interview relating to the series, Jason Isaacs described Michael as follows: "Well actually, Michael Caffee is not a bad guy. I wouldn't have done this if he was a bad guy. He's a really interesting man. He has a really strict ethical code that he adheres to and he thinks he is better for the neighborhood and the future of the city than his brother is. He thinks his brother is corrupt. He's part of the system." [36]


Viewing figures

Despite having a subpar total viewership of 540,000, Showtime renewed the series for a second season which aired in Fall 2007. It was renewed for a third season with eight episodes as of January 21, 2008.[37]

Critical response

Many critics compared the series to The Sopranos.[2][5][32][33] Some felt that it was actually closer in tone to another HBO drama, The Wire,[2][5] in terms of portraying "a fine-textured portrait of a blue-collar city"[32] and predicted comparable under performance in terms of finding an audience.[32] LA Weekly stated that the show may be more satisfying for viewers than the sixth season of The Sopranos in terms of emotional payoff.[5] Critics have characterized the show as being part of a wave of programming that puts Showtime on a level pegging with their pay cable rival HBO in terms of quality.[2]

Critics have praised the central performances of Clarke and Isaacs.[2][5][32][35] They have also commented on the authenticity in casting down to the minor roles and the strong characterization of the supporting cast.[5][31][32] The Hollywood Reporter named the show as the one to watch over the summer it debuted and stated that the ensemble of well drawn characters created a "reality that speaks to the collision of interests, the dispersal of power and the impossibility of effective compromise."[31] The Phoenix picked out Annabeth Gish's against type role as an adulterous addict as potentially re-defining her career.[32] Variety said that Isaacs performance as Michael provided the lifeblood of the series by grabbing the attention.[35]

The Seattle Post Intelligencer described the show as a "masterpiece."[33] Variety called it "the jewel Showtime has sought for years."[35]

The show has been criticized as lacking the humorous approach of Italian-American gangster stories like A Bronx Tale, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos.[38] The show has also been described as initially off putting due to its flawed characters but more involving as it progresses.[2]

Canadian tv show EWTV dubbed it the Irish Mob version of the The Sopranos.


The show was a 2007 Peabody Award winner.[39]

DVD release

Season Episodes Originally aired DVD Release
Season premiere Season finale Region 1 Discs
1 11 July 9, 2006 September 24, 2006 September 26, 2006 3
2 10 September 30, 2007 December 2, 2007 October 7, 2008
3 8 November 2, 2008 December 21, 2008 September 22, 2009


External links

fr:Brotherhood (s rie t l vis e) it:Brotherhood - Legami di sangue nl:Brotherhood (televisieserie) ja: ( ) pl:Braterstwo (serial telewizyjny) pt:Brotherhood (s rie) sv:Brotherhood

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