Four Ways to Make 'Parenthood' Even Better
by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 22nd 2010 5:00PM
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!