TV Squad previews NBC's new shows (part 2)
by Kona Gallagher, posted Jul 22nd 2009 10:04AM
NBC seems to be sending out their screeners in dribs and drabs, so I'm making my way through their fall offerings very slowly. I've already given you previews of both Community and Trauma, and now we've got Parenthood, a new series based on a movie that was already turned into a series nearly twenty years ago. Who says Hollywood is out of ideas?
Parenthood is basically a less-melodramatic Brothers & Sisters. It follows the Braverman clan, a family in Fresno made up of four siblings: Adam (Peter Krause), Crosby (Dax Shepard), Sarah (Maura Tierney), and Julia (Erika Christensen), along with their children and parents, played by Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia. They all have their share of drama, but at the end of the day, they're all brought together in the most suburban of pursuits: Little League. Say it with me now: "awwww."
Parenthood is helped by a strong cast of both movie and TV veterans. I will say right off the bat, though, that seeing Peter Krause play the suburban dad role is disorienting. He's running around at the beginning of the episode getting his family together for his son's little league game (which he coaches, by the way), and I kept on thinking that it was some weird Six Feet Under tumor-induced hallucination. However, the combination of Krause being a good actor and some Nate Fisher-style righteous indignation midway through allowed me to accept him in his new role.
Also a little odd was seeing Erika Christensen as a lawyer and mother of a 5- or 6-year-old. I still picture her as the strung-out teen from Traffic, so once again, there were some adjustments that needed to be made on my part. Maura Tierney, on the other hand, slid effortlessly into her role as a harried single mom, probably because she's had a little experience in that arena on ER. Dax Shepard was also surprisingly likeable as the family's resident screw-up. He was the one castmember that had been turning me off of this show, but he held his own remarkably well.
The pilot is mostly a series of introductions of the rather large cast, and gives us a working idea of their family dynamic. However, past the exposition, which is remarkably not clunky, given its volume, a few plotlines are introduced that are clearly going to come into play throughout the entire season. I won't give them away here, but suffice it to say, several members of the Braverman family are going to be facing some major life changes as the season progresses.
Brothers & Sisters has been quite successful for ABC, so it makes sense that NBC would want to roll out their own version. It has an excellent cast, and while the writing and dialogue didn't exactly sparkle, it was solid enough to make me want to come back for more. NBC doesn't really have many family dramas, especially with the cancellation of Medium, so it's not coming into a saturated market, unlike some of NBCs other offerings, including Trauma and Mercy. I'm not sure if Parenthood will last forever, but it has a good chance of making it this season.
Parenthood was set to premiere on NBC in the fall, but Tierney's breast cancer has pushed the premiere until mid-season.
Here's a featurette on Parenthood and some preview clips, both from Hulu: