Be sure to check out "The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty" on A&E tonight - it's actually pretty interesting, but pretty inscrutable too. You'll need to dust off that masters degree you got in Jackson Family History, Turmoil, and Mythology to understand or appreciate the many nuances tonight. 

  None of them explained.

  I came across this great clip from ET, with an interview by Kevin Frazier, the weeekend anchor and ET correspondent. If you have a strong desire to watch the A&E series, check this out first. Frazier does a good job trying to get to the bottom of why Jermaine ditched a photo shoot with his brothers, and this very same interview figures prominently tonight in the second hour. Frazier, clearly, has a masters in Jackson Family History, Turmoil and Mythology but still has a tricky time trying to plumb the family dynamics of this incident.

  Meanwhile, I've posted my review below.

  Bottom line: Good, but a lot of stuff that needs explaining. And there's NO music here. Fans who loved "This is It," the big screen tribute to Michael Jackson, because it was so rich with music (and so vividly threw the spotlight on Jackson's brilliant backup musicians) will be deeply disappointed tonight.  Again, no music, or hardly any...

 

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THE SHOW "The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty"

WHEN|WHERE Sunday at 9 p.m. on A&E

REASON TO WATCH Tito, Marlon, Jackie and Jermaine, together again - sort of.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT As the original core of Motown's Jackson 5 prepares for a reunion album celebrating the group's 40th anniversary, the unthinkable happens - the most famous member dies. The first hour begins earlier this year, when the four brothers reunite; Michael, of course, was otherwise engaged preparing for the London gig.

So why this documentary? For edification: "I want people around the world to see us as we really are," explains Jackie. This was going to be just a one-time-only doc, but after the death of Michael, A&E expanded it to six hours. In Sunday's second part, which begins at 10, the guys lay the groundwork for a memorial concert, although Jermaine is often missing in action.

MY SAY Let's talk about what isn't here, first. No dad Joe - barely a mention, though mom Katherine is seen. No youngest bro, Randy - not even a mention. No Michael - even though the brothers are understandably wary about reuniting without him. No music - hardly a lick, croon, beat or measure, even though this is about a reunion album.

And no back story, the sorest absence of all. There is a vast, rich, fascinating back story with the Jackson 5, of course - yet nada. Viewers, or at least those unfamiliar with this, are left to piece this past together.

Hey, why are Tito, Marlon and Jackie so wary of Jermaine? Well, he did pull out more than 30 years ago, leading to the final collapse of the J5. And where is Randy? (Another complicated story.)

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BOTTOM LINE This program screams out for context and background, but if you can do without, there's much of interest here. The second hour is by far the best, and over a few fleeting and fascinating scenes - the guys with their lawyer, Jermaine with his wife, Jackie in tears - you will get a sense that you really have entered their world. It's up to you to decide whether you want to be there after all these years.

GRADE B-