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August 22, 2014

Four Ways to Make 'Parenthood' Even Better

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 22nd 2010 5:00PM
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The news last week that NBC had renewed 'Parenthood' for a second season was not a big surprise. Yes, the show had a rocky start, considering that it was forced into a midseason premiere because producers had to recast actress Maura Tierney's role while she was battling breast cancer. But since then, it has been well-received and even bested its main competition Tuesdays at 10PM ET, 'The Good Wife,' a few times in the ratings. So there was every reason for NBC to give the Ron Howard/Brian Grazer production a second season. It earned it.

The show has actually been getting better. It's on its way to becoming a hit, and with just a few changes in the season to come, it could succeed. We've narrowed it down to four specifics, our suggestions for how 'Parenthood' could get even better than it is right now. Read our list and then weigh in with your thoughts.

1. Bring in some comedy writers. One of the things that made the Steve Martin film of 'Parenthood' so good was that there was a good balance between the comedy and the drama. As it stands now, NBC's current 'Parenthood' is just too intense. The show has veered too much into drama and needs to lighten up. Ron Howard could coax his old friends, Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz ('Night Shift,' 'Splash,' 'Parenthood'!) to add some funny. The cast has a bunch of actors really suited to comedy, too, like Lauren Graham ('Gilmore Girls'), Peter Krause ('Sports Night') and Craig T. Nelson ('Coach'). Give them some opportunities to shine.

2. Move the show to 8PM. The way it seems, 'Parenthood' was never intended to be a ten o'clock show. It was slotted into Tuesdays at 10PM because NBC was looking to fill hours left open in the wake of Jay Leno's primetime failure. There's nothing on 'Parenthood' that suggests it's too adult for that hour.

It's a great family show, and in the tradition of other great family shows like 'The Waltons' or 'The Cosby Show' or even 'Home Improvement' or 'Roseanne,' it should to be on earlier in the evening. Switching it from ten o'clock would also be a good counter measure to the current sitcoms and dramas that air at 8, like 'House' on Monday, or 'NCIS' on Tuesday. Even it were up against sitcoms like 'The Middle' or 'How I Met Your Mother,' it could thrive. Sure, we're unsure what the 2010 fall schedule will look like right now, but NBC should boldly slot 'Parenthood' some weeknight at 8.



3. Put Graham and Shepherd together. Two of the most attractive and engaging actors on 'Parenthood' are Lauren Graham and Dax Shepard. Their characters, Sarah and Crosby Braverman, are brother and sister, but they haven't had much chance to work together, maybe a scene or two. Since they are two of the most interesting Bravermans, it would be great to throw them into each other's storyline. Right now on the show, Sarah's living with the folks, but that could change if Zeek loses the house. Crosby, meanwhile, is living on a houseboat for one. Suppose Sarah and Crosby get a place together? That's a dynamic that could work really well.

4. More outsider influence. If there's one thing that's problematic about a cast as big as 'Parenthood,' it's that producers and writers are compelled to present stories involving all the siblings and cousins and family. But when they've used guest stars, they've been terrific. Mike O'Malley, Jason Ritter, Minka Kelly have all added a lot to the show in the episodes. The introduction of Jabbar's other family last Tuesday was wonderful, especially as they interacted Crosby's clan. This show needs the Bravermans to interact with others and not just each other, so -- yes -- bring on the guest stars!

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alexa27590

1. Bring in some comedy writers... I thought this weeks episode was hilarious! and 'the landing strip'! I like the intense parts also there are too many shows trying so hard to be 'funny' where as this show is mor real!

April 28 2010 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Craig

Have Maura Tierney guest star!!

April 23 2010 at 10:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeramy

There's nothing intense about the show. The comedy is non-existent, but the drama is very lite.

April 23 2010 at 4:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Charlotte

I could not disagree more with the suggestion to slot the show at 8pm. It has more mature themes not suitable to 8pm viewing. And some of those scenes or lines are where a lot of the comedy comes from. The masturbation discussion, the orgasm discussion, some of Kristina's ad-libbed(?) lines, "He's got a good one"; "Lo-tion room".; Moving the show to an earlier time would be most disadventageous.

April 22 2010 at 10:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe Fulton

More Erika Christensen

April 22 2010 at 6:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Joe Fulton's comment
Larry Flowers

Amen to more Erika Christensen

April 22 2010 at 7:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

And LESS Dax Shepard.

April 22 2010 at 7:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Hewitt

1. Comedy - There are plenty of light moments. The kid watering the plants while he showered was a good one this week. A little more comedy would be ok, but I wouldn't call the show "intense". It's no Party of Five. The characters are reasonably happy.

2. 8pm. No way. I like that this is a show for adults about parents and not a "family show". The more "landing strip" conversations, the better.

3. Graham and Shepard. Give it a try. Can't hurt.

4. Outsiders - I do love Mike O'Malley and I hope he sticks around. Tom Amandes is great, but the role doesn't really call for a lot of interaction. The cast size is already awkward though, so I doubt you're going to get too many outsiders.

April 22 2010 at 6:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kay

The whole comedy/drama debate is ridiculous. Writers aren't programmed like robots. That's just such a network or studio POV, to think that writers only have one skill. You should know better.

April 22 2010 at 5:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
A different Brett

You don't think the discussions of pubic grooming, faking orgasms, or the repeated pot references, don't put it out of bounds for 8PM? "Mommy, what's a 'landing strip'?"

April 22 2010 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to A different Brett's comment
Paul

Have you ever seen "House"? Even shows like "How I Met Your Mother" and "Bones" go beyond anything "Parenthood" has done on a regular basis.

April 23 2010 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott

I strongly disagree on 2 points. First, leave it as a 9 or 10pm show. Let it deal with adult issues. Putting it at 8 would turn it into a cutesy-kiddie show. I want them to be able to bring up grown-up subjects without it becoming "7th Heaven". Second point: Shepard is actually one of the least appealing cast members. He's fine with his son, but around actual responsible adults he always ends up as a brainless jerk who can't handle anything. Graham's character already has enough problems dealing with things. Don't saddle her with the only Braverman less able to handle life.
I agree that the show could definitely use some comedy. As far as guest stars go, you're already servicing a very large cast. I think guest stars should be used sparingly. Tom Amandes as the Asberger's doctor was very good. There isn't room in an hour to have more than a few non-family characters onscreen and still get everyone in. Seeing the family relate to each other is still the biggest appeal of the show for me.

April 22 2010 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cbhs99_wvu03

I would say no to adding the comedy writers. I feel that the show is intended to be a drama unless the comedy is subtle similar to the "Men of a Certain Age" dramedy. Other than that, I agree with the rest.

April 22 2010 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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