By Michael Slezak
November 03, 2008 at 10:40 PM EST

I’m getting a little concerned about my beloved Brothers & Sisters. Last night’s episode (the sixth of season 3) was quite possibly the least funny and least emotionally engaging of the entire series run, and no single moment rang less true than the scene ABC has been teasing for several weeks: Nora leaping out of her car, running to the edge of the road, and screaming at her late husband into a bucolic valley — “I hate you William Walker! All you care about is yourself and your stupid penis!” For me, the shout-out to William’s errant member felt like a desperate attempt by the show’s writers to score the kind of laughter-through-tears moment that’s made B&S such an addictive treat, but it played more like a bit of sophomoric frat humor: “Let’s make the gray-haired lady say ‘penis.'” I’m sorry, but Brothers & Sisters fans expect more, and Sally Field certainly deserves better. (That said, as petty and preposterous as Nora looked with her accusation about Robert turning Kitty against her family, it somehow felt genuine. Whose mom hasn’t hung onto old, unresolved arguments, and dredged them up amplified at the most inopportune moments?)

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Also working my nerves last night was the fist fight between Tommy andKevin. I know Kevin can be a petty jerk, and I know Tommy is the leastlikeable character on the show, but seriously? We’re supposed tobelieve these two grown men, who only a year ago locked Justin in abedroom and forced him to detox, would sully their little brother’sone-year sobriety ceremony with such a grotesque, immature display?Again, I’m a fan of the way B&S isn’t afraid to present itscharacters’ flaws, but the melee was a failure both in terms of laughgeneration and character development.

At least the writers gave Rachel Griffiths an interesting story arcthis week. I was perturbed that Sarah seemed unprepared forher interview (!), but her horrified reaction to seeing the “Greenotopiaoffices” (including top executive in a towel, drinking a beer) was theepisode’s best moment, and her comment about having “siblings who don’thave boundaries and a mother who treats me like I’m sixteen” was handsdown the night’s best line. I’m also happy to see Sarah tackling afresh career challenge and taking a little time away from the datingscene after a crumbled marriage and a disastrous workplace affair. It’s the right thing to do for this single mother of two.

Asfor Kitty’s possible upcoming adoption and theJustin-and-Rebecca-in-bed marathon, I leave it for you to discussB&S fans. In the meantime, are the rest of you concerned about what I’m perceivingas a dip in the show’s writing quality, or am I just being a PickyMcCrankypants? Who’s liking Sarah’s new career move? And “yeah” or”nay” on Justin wearing Rebecca’s silk robe?

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