'Parenthood' - 'Man Vs. Possum' Recap
by Danny Gallagher, posted Mar 10th 2010 5:23AM
(S01E02) "I can deal with anything: disease, illness, broken bone. Give me something I can fix, but I don't know how to deal with this. This is for life." - Adam to Kristina after learning that Max has Asperger's Syndrome
Ferris Bueller once said, "Life moves by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
And while that bit of movie trivia is actually true (unlike say "Stupid is as stupid does" or "Pain don't hurt"), if actual life went at the speed that 'Parenthood' does, stopping to look at it would require some kind of anti-lock braking system.
The episode moved so fast from one scene to the next that it felt physically tiring to watch. Trying to cram in as many scenes and plotlines as possible isn't new. In fact, it can give a show more depth as long as it doesn't go overboard. You reading this, creators of 'Big Love'?
The problem lies in its execution. The scenes move at such a fast, breakneck speed that reacting to them requires quick emotional ticks. And this is supposed to be a dramedy, a show that cries, nay, craves some kind of a reaction from its audience, the least of which is a laugh. Can someone up at NBC HQ just put the tape on a slower frame speed? It's hard to soak something in when it's being blasted at you out of a fire hose.
Needless to say, this week required more than a few viewings and a nap between them. The drama angle is definitely there, but it tries to balance it with some comedy that's extremely hit or miss and heavy on the miss. It relies more on trying to make the drama and realness of the situation the comedy, but it doesn't always work in the awkward uncomfortable way, because you're either already connected to the characters thanks to the drama or they just aren't funny.
It does do a good job of showing the emotional weight these people have to go through, but it doesn't stay on it nearly long enough to appreciate the humor of it. It's like bench pressing a rack of steel without a spotter: all press and very little lift.
Adam and Kristina have to carry more of the emotional baggage, especially now that they have confirmed their son Max has Asperger's Syndrome. Anyone who gives a crap about kids would, and it does a better than average job of showing the plight these and countless other parents have to endure to help their children grow, from the constant fights to their own struggle to understand the nature of their child's condition. It's hard to draw humor in and around that, but the portrayal of their struggle is still commendable.
Sarah, played by Lauren Graham, feels a lot looser than the others, and she mines a lot of humor out of her situation in the fractions of a second that the show gives her. Her job interview had some fun moments of Lauren simply being Lauren and the interaction with her father, played by Craig T. Nelson. He tries to push her back into the office working world and it made for some good back and forth, even if my eyes were still rolling around at the end of the scene, thanks to inertia.
Crosby also had some fun moments, but Dax Shepard feels like he's on an even shorter leash than the one he suggested Adam give to Kristina when she took a hit of their daughters' pot. It's always fun to let a guy like Dex run loose and see what sticks.
Julia's battle with her stay-at-home mom rival started out fun when the brunette bitch pulls the ultimate mommy no-no in the opening scenes (yeah, I wanted to claw her eyes out with my middle finger too), but just descends into uncomfortableness that really didn't feel very funny. The auction scene wasn't predictable, but didn't have me laugh at their awkward squirming the way that it should.
The endings also felt too wrapped up and nicely bound together. These are problems that are bound to follow them through their lives and even though they've learned to deal with them for now, it just felt too happy and syrupy for their situations. No one wants a downer ending, but it would have been nice to see all of them grow and evolve and adapt instead of just live and deal with one episode, only to face all new conflicts next week.
Besides, it would have been nice to know that next week would turn into a steady jog instead of another full blown sprint to the finish.
- Can't we just show people smoking pot on television now? Are we that touchy-feely about the devil reefer infecting our minds that we can't even watch grown-ups smoking it?
- Why is it such a big deal that Adam helped Sarah score the job interview? Better yet, why should I, the viewer, care?
- I miss Cowboy Dan. Is he coming or not?
[Check out 'Parenthood' on SlashControl.]