'Parenthood' Review: Growing Up Is Hard to Do
by Kelly Woo, posted Mar 2nd 2010 8:00AM
There's nothing Hollywood loves more than remakes, but you'd think NBC would be a bit wary of tackling yet another one after the recent disasters that were 'Knight Rider' and 'Bionic Woman.' Instead, the once-proud Peacock network is placing a big bet on yet another TV version of the 1989 movie 'Parenthood.' (Who can forget the 1990 version that starred Leonardo DiCaprio? Apparently, we all can.) But will this updated retread hit the ratings jackpot?
There's nothing Hollywood loves more than remakes, but you'd think NBC would be a bit wary of tackling yet another one after the recent disasters that were 'Knight Rider' and 'Bionic Woman.' Instead, the once-proud Peacock network is placing a big bet on yet another TV version of the 1989 movie 'Parenthood.' (Who can forget the 1990 version that starred Leonardo DiCaprio? Apparently ... everybody.) But will this updated retread hit the ratings jackpot?
If you haven't seen the many, many 'Parenthood' promos over the Winter Olympics, the show centers on a family of four adult siblings. In the pilot, the second eldest, single mom Sarah Braverman (Lauren Graham), moves back home with her two teen kids. The eldest, Adam (Peter Krause), and wife Kristina (Monica Potter) are dealing with a son who may have Asperger's syndrome, while ne'er-do-well younger brother Crosby (Dax Shepherd) is dealing with possibly having fathered a son. And youngest sister Julia (Erika Christensen) is so caught up in her career, she's missing out on raising her daughter. And of course, there's the Braverman patriarch (Craig T. Nelson) and matriarch (Bonnie Bedelia) meddling in all their affairs.
'Parenthood' was supposed to be a crown jewel in NBC's fall line-up, but was pushed back to midseason when Maura Tierney was forced to exit the role of Sarah to undergo breast cancer treatments. She was eventually replaced by 'Gilmore Girls' star Lauren Graham.
Having seen both versions of the pilot, the new one felt disjointed and it's no wonder, since they essentially re-shot various scenes with Graham instead of Tierney. I'm sure it was logistically impossible to rewrite and re-shoot the entire pilot, but Graham (one of my favorite actresses) ended up seeming like a square peg who'd been shoehorned into a round hole.
As wonderful as Graham is, it's tough playing somebody else's part; I'm hoping that the team behind 'Parenthood' tinkers with the tone of the series to play to Graham's more comedic gifts. Alongside executive producers Ron Howard (who directed the original movie) and Brian Grazer, showrunner Jason Katims has certainly proven he has an eye and ear for family drama on the excellent 'Friday Night Lights,' so we should see improvements as episodes unfold.
The rest of the cast is (mostly) superb. Peter Krause should always be on television, period, and it's great to see Craig T. Nelson back on the screen. Erika Christensen unfortunately didn't have much to do in this first episode, though, and Dax Shepherd stuck out a bit in such a luminary line-up. Here's a plea to see more of both Julia and her husband (Sam Jaeger, 'Eli Stone' -- love him!), and keep Sarah's hook-up (Mike O'Malley, also love him!) around for at least a little while.
Judging a sprawling family drama on a pilot isn't very fair -- I could barely keep track of all the names -- and I liked what I saw enough to recommend that any interested viewer give 'Parenthood' a handful of episodes to prove itself. This is one remake that just might make it.
What I liked:
• Peter Krause and Lauren Graham on TV again = heaven!
• A much-needed family drama to balance out all the cop and doctor shows
• Can I live in the Bravermans' family home? Pretty please?
What I didn't like:
• Dax Shepherd ... really?
• Too many characters and plots introduced in the first episode
• Having said that ... what family socializes only with each other? Where are the friends? Business partners?
'Parenthood' premieres Tue., March 2 at 10 PM ET on NBC