Brothers and Sisters, Kyle XY, and October Road: The Complete First Seasons (January 16/08)
While nobody will ever confuse Brothers and Sisters, Kyle XY, or October Road for the best that contemporary television has to offer, there's little doubt that all three shows possess more than enough positive attributes to warrant a hearty recommendation (particularly in this age of reality shows and police procedurals).
Brothers and Sisters follows the various members of the Walker clan through their respectively soapy antics, with the bulk of the series initially revolving around the characters' efforts to deal with the sudden death of patriarch William Walker (Tom Skerritt). Subsequent episodes are generally concerned with the day-to-day shenanigans of central figures like Kitty (Calista Flockhart), Saul (Ron Rifkin), and Nora (Sally Field), although there's ultimately no denying that some of these subplots are far more interesting than others (ie the majority of Flockhart's scenes are simply not terribly compelling, primarily because the actress' relentlessly twitchy performance occasionally borders on distracting).
Given that its first season contains only ten episodes, Kyle XY generally comes off as a much more consistently entertaining endeavor than Brothers and Sisters - as it's awfully difficult not to get immediately sucked into the admittedly out-there premise. Matt Dallas stars as the title character, a mysterious teen who wakes up in the forest without a single memory of who he is or how he got there (oh, and he's also missing a belly button). The Trager family - mom Nicole (Marguerite MacIntyre), dad Stephen (Bruce Thomas), daughter Lori (April Matson), and son Josh (Jean-Luc Bilodeau) - agrees to take Kyle in, and the series deals with both his efforts at discovering his true identity and the manner in which he affects the lives of his hosts.
October Road's first season is even shorter - six episodes in total - and yet the powers that be effectively set up the characters and relationships that one imagines will come to define the series. The premise is fairly simple - a successful author (Bryan Greenberg's Nick) returns to the small town he fled a decade earlier, and must subsequently confront the friends and family he abandoned (including Laura Prepon's Hannah, Geoff Stults' Eddie, and Brad William Henke's Owen) - and there's little doubt that the uniformly effective performances prove instrumental in ensuring the show's mild success. The writing staff's relentless emphasis on quirky characters (ie folks named Physical Phil and Big Cat) and eye-rollingly inauthentic dialogue (the increasingly irritating phrase "what goes on?" is repeated throughout the series) occasionally threatens to negate October Road's positive attributes, yet it's the soapy relationships between the various characters that effectively keeps the viewer tuning in week after week (or, in this case, DVD after DVD).
All three of the aforementioned programs have already shown considerable success on their respective networks (October Road and Brothers and Sisters are on ABC, while Kyle XY is aired on ABC Family), and it certainly seems likely that they'll be hanging around for years to come (it's just a shame that it's so difficult to find Kyle XY in ABC Family-less Canada).