ABC (Sun.-Mon., Feb. 27-28, 9 p.m. ET)
Well into Part 2 of this four-hour miniseries, a brain-fried Brian Wilson (Frederick Weller) sits at a piano and plays the same chords over and over. But the pop-music saga starts sounding like a broken record long before that.
The Beach Boys charts the surfin’ supergroup’s career from the fun, fun, fun songs of the early ’60s through a period of turmoil and decline to a joyous comeback concert in the mid-’70s. But the key to the drama is found in its subtitle: An American Family. Add “dysfunctional” and you’ve got the picture. Murry Wilson (Kevin Dunn), manager of the band and father of three of its members, constantly bullies and berates the boys, leaving Brian with particularly deep emotional scars and a self-destructive appetite for drugs and food. (Amid the dreariness of Part 2, Weller’s fat-man makeup is a source of welcome, if unintended, comic relief.)
Dunn is convincingly belligerent throughout, and Weller’s Brian is sympathetic until he turns into a cartoon of the stoned genius. The music will please fans, but it’s the disharmony that dominates. “Is this the way that a family is supposed to behave?” cries Murry’s wife (Alley Mills) after learning that he sold out the boys in a bad business deal. “Haven’t they suffered enough?” Us too.
Bottom Line: Not enough good vibrations