Dad Pat Brown and son Jerry
Dad Pat Brown and son Jerry

Pat Brown and Jerry Brown's Thorny Political and Father-Son Relationship on TV Tonight

Tonight, Southern California's PBS station, which is based in Costa Mesa, airs the broadcast debut of a documentary I found enlightening and warts-filled despite being made by the main subject's loving granddaughter.

It's California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown, Sascha Rice's cinexamination of the governor who preceded Ronald Reagan.

The flick I caught at the 2011 Newport Beach Film Festival does include a lineup of Democrats and RINO Arnold Schwarzenegger singing the late Edmund Gerald "Pat" Brown Jr.'s praises. However, to writer-director-producer Rice's credit, also included are the bumps encountered along the way by California's 32nd governor, who between 1959-1967 faced off against Richard Nixon, student demonstrators, entrenched legislators and the untested-but-ultimately gifted politician who would succeed him.

Because of what Rice knows herself and what she learns from her family, the viewer ultimately knows more about how Brown and those closest to him felt about his big political wins and losses. We witness first-hand how Kathleen Brown was daddy's favorite to assume the mantle of governor, as well as the old man's thorny relationship with son and now two-generation Gov. Jerry Brown. We finally get at what drives junior, for better or worse.

More balances comes from tele-journalist Tom Brokaw (remember when he was anchoring KNBC?), historian Kevin Starr and author-journalist Karl Fleming, who calls Pat Brown "the last great American builder" thanks to the hospitals, universities, community colleges and 1,000 miles of freeway constructed while he was governor.

Given the sad state of affairs in Sacramento, it's folly to even hope his son accomplishes half of what senior did. At least Rice shows us what is, or at least once was, possible in the Golden State.

California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown airs at 10 p.m. on PBS SoCal, Channel 50.

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