Band of Brothers was an epic TV series from a while back about WWII. Why weren’t there spin-offs to such a fine show? Now there is! Sort of. Band of Mothers follows the lives of mothers who decided to form a wartime punk band called the Band of Mothers. In this jaunty comedy series, the band would get up to all kinds of scrapes as the mothers (more used to boiling kettles and preparing beds) get to grips with amplifiers, bass drums, and electric guitars.
Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain, Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet, Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, and Arnold Schwarzenegger (what? Why is that strange? Watch Junior from 1994 where he dresses up as a woman – it’s very convincing), this would be considered one of the most ill-conceived ideas in the history of television, with its talented cast ridiculed by almost every critic on the planet. Hurray!
Band of Mothers
Over the course of 12 series, each made up of 24 episodes of some 30 minutes, the show would be stretched to its creative limit. Essentially, each episode would consist of the band getting to grips with, before climbing up and ultimately conquering, the punk scene in 1940s Britain. In a society more used to trad-jazz and warbling ditties, the mothers face stiff opposition from conservative Britain.
Undeterred, and with stadium rocking anthems such as Anarchy in the Armchair, Don’t Look Back In Your Armchair (You’ll Strain Your Neck), Smells Like Tea Time, No One Knows (How Difficult It Is Being A Mother), Stairway to Handbags, Won’t Get Fermented Tea Again, Whole Lotta Lunch, and I Can’t Get No Sugar (due to the rationing of the time), the mothers would rise to stardom and ultimately reject motherhood in favour of fame and fortune.
In early episodes, much hilarity would ensue as the mothers get to grips with their musical instruments. Jessica Chastain complains bitterly about how heavy her electric guitar is and also accidentally smacks Amy Adams in the face when attempting what would become known as Pete Townshend’s whirlwind arm move. Meanwhile, singer Meryl Streep can’t quite get the aggression required for a punk band in her lyrics, as proven by early songs I’d Like a Spot of Tea, I Really Do Like Tea, Tea Is Great, Tea Is Super, and Golly Gosh.
Meanwhile, drummer Arnold Schwarzenegger is completely out of sync with the rest of the band. Her thunderous pounding is deafening to behold, but when asked to calm it down she simply replies in a monotonous voice with the following: “F*** you a**hole”. Consequently, Angelina Jolie is drafted in as the manager and things take shape from there.
Despite being met with disastrous reviews, dismal ratings, and general contempt, with an inexplicable budget of $200 million per season and an eventual 288 episodes, a few gems made it through the otherwise creatively barren world of misguided endeavours. Here were some of the best episodes from Band of Mothers:
- Drum Solo: This episode focuses on drummer Schwarzenegger’s live drum solos, which would last between 1 and 4 hours (depending on how many steroids she’d taken). The critics complained this episode was a bit boring. Arnold Schwarzenneger, in a press release related to this, simply stated: “Let off some steam, critics.” No one quite understood why.
- First Gig: The band’s first gig, held in Clapham, which ends in a full scale riot after the song I Can’t Explain (How I Get The Socks So Soft After Washing Them) causes the crowd to lose its mind. The pub hands the band a £1,000 fine for the damage caused but, thankfully, the building is demolished entirely the following night during an air raid.
- First Tour: With success comes high demand and the band take to the road in 1944, hitting all the big stadiums. Due to drink and drugs, the band’s relationship is now fractious and drummer Schwarzenegger and singer Streep have a blazing row on stage one night in Leeds, with the former punching the latter in the face leading to several cancellations as she recuperates.
- First Number 1: Punk anthem Holiday in Cornwall storms to #1 and the BBC is not happy by its edgy lyrics about a holiday in Cornwall: “Cornwall is great/So why the hate?/Just get a big plate/And enjoy the cake/Golly gosh, yes yes yes”. The fearsome Chastain guitar solo proves the most memorable moment and proves enough get the song banned.