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'Parenthood' - 'Pilot' Recap (Series Premiere)

by Allison Waldman, posted Mar 3rd 2010 9:45AM
Peter_Krause_Parenthood_NBC(S01E01) There are moments in 'Parenthood' that are so uncomfortably realistic that you might think it's a re-telling of the PBS series 'The Loud Family.' Yes, it's that real in some ways, but is it entertaining and inviting? Would you want to keep up with the Bravermans week after week? That depends. The show offers promise, but it's a jell-o that's yet to be jelled.

It would be hard for any series to go wrong with Lauren Graham and Peter Krause and Craig T. Nelson top-lining the cast. They all acquit themselves well, although the characters are all under more pressure than a pressure cooking with a faulty lid. You just sense explosions around every corner. And that's the way it is with a lot of pilots, especially where there's so large a cast.

There was too much stuffed in the show so everyone had a moment to register. You walked away from the program feeling like you had overeaten at at a holiday dinner. Or in the case of the Bravermans (like the Walkers on 'Brothers & Sisters') drank too much wine. What is it about California family dramas that just overdoes the vino? Where were the two-liter bottles of Sprite and Diet Coke?

Big brother Adam, Peter Krause, has all the angst on his shoulders. The siblings turn to him more than Daddy Zeke. Zeke has issues and pushed all their buttons too much growing up. But Adam has all the signs of the facilitator. Still, he can't make Max whole. When Christina flipped out because Max may have Asperger's, the scene rang true. And later when Adam had to admit to his father -- his father who knows everything about everything -- that his son is damaged, it was heartbreaking. (Although 'Men of a Certain Age' handled Albert's neuroses with more subtlety than Max's story.)

Julia didn't have much air time to come off as more than a workaholic mom who silently questions the wisdom of her choices. Crosby's story had the most bizarre elements, as his commitment phobic attitude was challenged by his long-time girlfriend's biologically ticking clock. It was all over the top, played at with the volume on eleven, and then the capper was the surprise appearance of Jasmine with Jabbar. Hello, daddy.

Sarah's story was the most real, if only because she doesn't have a job, a home or everything figured out. She's made a mess of her life by marrying the wrong guy and now has returned home to start over for herself and her teens. The kids resent her making them move from Fresno, but Sarah is doing her best and that came across. But the pilot overload included not just Amber's arrest, Drew's running away but also Sarah's hook up with her high school ex. That would have been enough for three episodes!

So, bottom line, will 'Parenthood' be a keeper? It is. It'll get better. The pace will slow down and the characters will come into focus. They'll add some comedy. NBC now needs only to give it room to evolve.

Other points of interest
-- Who would put frozen sperm in a thermos in the freezer next to the coffee grinds? Great line, though: "That's right, I Googled your sperm."

-- The scene with Max at school was a great way to show his problems. It wasn't the fight, it was the inability to cut construction paper in the shape he wanted.

-- Entire extended families do not go to Little League baseball games. That was unrealistic and TV b.s. Just like they all showed up for the recital. Come on, really? I'm in a family of five and we all don't attend every school play and activity for our nieces and nephews.

-- Julia's needling Sarah about a job at the first dinner was brilliant. Family can be so annoying.

-- This 'Parenthood' is not like the 1989 movie. It could use some of that movie's humor, though. It needs some levity.

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So far the TV series has been a blast to watch. I finally got a chance to watch it today, and it rocks! Now that I have Sling technology with DISH Network, I can use my iPhone to watch parenthood anywhere I have a 3G connection. Being that I am a customer and employee of DISH I can’t recommend the TV Everywhere feature enough to anyone with a busy lifestyle.

April 22 2011 at 8:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's great having a functional TV family that can actually solve problems. I'm tired of the unending drama with all the compromises, sometimes it's nice to have a happy ending (especially on a Tuesday night after Lost).

March 04 2010 at 4:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was apprehensive about " Parenthood" . Apprehensive because of the star studded cast. Much like feature films with a blockbuster cast. SO excited to see all the BIG names it must be fantastic! Then you go see it { i.e. "He's just not that into You", "Valentines Day "} and you are left feeling underwhelmed. NOT THE CASE ! I loved this premiere. I am so already drawn in . I want to know more about these characters this family. Much like Modern Family its very much a family that is current and believable ! Lauren Graham, Craig T. Nelson, Peter Krause, just knocked it out of the ballpark for me. I am a Fan !!! Lets keep this on the air in a land of " Jersey Shore", "Real Housewives", etc... its an infusion of TRUE raw talent,writing included that is just what I've been missing in primetime lineup ! Congratulations N.B.C. !!!!

March 04 2010 at 1:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really want to like this show. I like the actors. But the writing is terrible. The stories are contrived. Every scene was written to try to tug at your emotional heart strings. There was nothing lighthearted and kind like Modern family. I realize it is a drama but it's really bad. The actors can only do so much with bad material. I hope it gets better.

March 04 2010 at 9:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chris's comment

I have to agree with chris - I really wanted to like this show, but it felt like a revamp of Brothers and Sisters, only with a strong patriarch. I'm a big Lauren Graham fan, but two things bothered me: one, she's STILL 38?? If you followed her in Gilmore Girls, she was 38 then, too. Also, I think she's had a lot of Botox because the scene with her son at the gas station was supposed to be very emotional, but her face didn't even move. I was disappointed but will give it one more chance.

March 06 2010 at 2:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A very fast paced episode indeed. I watched this show half because there was nothing else on and half because Coach, Peter Krause, Lauren Graham and Dax Shephard, and Monica Potter were in the cast. I wouldn't have watched it for any of those actors individually (except maybe Graham) but altogether I figure it couldn't be bad.

It's definitely leaning a little too much on the melodrama for my tastes, and I would have liked to have seen more of the kids personalities instead of just their misbehavings and the problems they cause the adults. I didn't really feel any sympathy for the kid having a deadbeat dad and a struggling mom because I forgot he even existed up until halfway through.

I'll probably tune in next week since White Collar reruns and nothing else is on.

March 04 2010 at 1:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good review, however claiming that the whole extended family going to little league games is TV b.s. is very untrue. I come from a family of 7 and have 27 nephews and nieces, and there is often at least half of us at games, graduations, plays, etc., and plenty of times when nearly all of us are there.

March 03 2010 at 7:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Holtzinger

While watching the show my thoughts turned to Modern Family, Brothers and Sisters, but finally I settled on the Walton's, a house jam-packed with family, granted the Braverman's are a bit bent but it seemed to work for me. I also really liked the Nissan ads. They actually created a desire in me to check out Nissan cars. Haven't thought about a Nissan vehicle since my Datsun B2000 pick-up got totaled back in the '80s.

March 03 2010 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Meh... I didn't love it, but I've learned not to judge a show by its pilot.

It's straddling that middle ground between comedy and drama that's very difficult to pull off ("Sports Night" is probably the classic example)

It's not funny to stand apart in that sense, but they try just enough of it where it makes what could be something serious and engaging seem unrealistic and phony.

It might be better as a cable series than one on a network. (I could see this doing better on TNT or something)

March 03 2010 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Frank's comment

I watched the first five minutes and changed the channel. Totally bored me (first episodes usually do). I'ill probably give it another chance next week, though, just to see if it improves.

March 04 2010 at 1:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I liked this show. I agree that it was really all over the place this first episode, but I understand that they're just trying to introduce all the family members and give us some frame of reference for future episodes.

The only thing I had trouble buying was Sarah's kids' affection for Fresno, California. Everytime they said they wanted to move back to Fresno I rolled my eyes. I may be biased though, I live 40 minutes from F-Town and am all too familiar with the majesty that is "The 'No". (I hope my sarcasm translates.)

Unofficial slogan: "Fresno: A Sunny Place for Shady People."

March 03 2010 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

as the mother of a kid with HFA (high functioning autism) I was amazed at the acting ability of Max. In the very first scene, the way he held his head, the way he played with the ship, the way the mom talked to the dad, i said to myself, this kid isnt difficult or overly sensitive, he has aspergers~! Amazingly accurate character development. I dont know if I can watch more! :)

March 03 2010 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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