NBC's "Parenthood" Has Promise (and Lorelai Gilmore)
NBC's new family drama "Parenthood" may actually get me back to watching the Peacock Network on a regular basis.
First, because it brings Lorelai Gilmore herself, the delightfully talented Lauren Graham, back to TV; and second, because after watching a preview of the pilot, I found I liked it. It had just enough humor to keep me chuckling and just enough drama to make me care.
Photo by Art Streiber – © NBC Universal
Produced by Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Jason Katims, "Parenthood" is based on the 1989 comedy starring Steve Martin. The show's about the Braverman family: Grandma, Grandad, Mr. Fix-It Son, Workaholic Daughter, Commitment-Phobe Son and Boomerang Single Mom Daughter.
Besides Graham, the show stars Peter Krause, Craig T. Nelson, Bonnie Bedelia, Monica Potter, Sam Jaeger, Joy Bryant and all those other people in the picture above.
Graham was a last minute replacement for Maura Tierney, who had to drop out of the show last year when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Tierney's now back to work on other projects and says medically she's doing well.
Peter Krause is an amiable actor, and he brings a grounded warmth to "Parenthood." He plays Adam, the Mr. Fix-It son of the family who the other siblings come to with their problems. Adam and his wife Kristina have their own crisis when they discover their son Max might be autistic.
Graham, as Boomerang Daughter Sarah, is moving back to the family homestead because she's down on her luck and light in the wallet. She's not nearly the quality single mother Lorelai was, but her kids are no Rorys either. Though she calls them "degenerates," so far the son seems okay and the daughter is simply a whole lotta 'tude plus a whole lotta eyeliner.
Commitment-Phobe Crosby (Dax Shepard) unexpectedly finds out commitment comes in all kinds of packages when he's confronted with his previously unknown black child.
Somehow I find that quite funny -- but look, these days on TV, I'll take my diversity where I can find it.
Workaholic Daughter Julia, played by Erika Christensen, has a BlackBerry surgically attached to her palm but can't fathom why her super-cute little daughter prefers hanging out with Dad.
As Grandad Zeek -- gotta love that name, Zeek -- Craig T. Nelson plays another one of those Craig T. Nelson roles. You know, the aging tough guy jock who thinks men are only men if they play football, drink beer, and don't cry after the age of two.
It took me until the show was over to recognize veteran actress Bonnie Bedelia as Grandma Camille, since she was hidden under an unruly mop of curly, blond "Grandma hair." I hope they'll get her to a hairstylist in episode two, 'cause Bonnie can't be nearly as old as they're making her look.
Overall, the performers raise the material above the stereotypes, but it's only the first episode, and I'm willing to give the writers some time to flesh out the characters.
It's not perfect, but it's got promise. And after the whole Leno/O'Brien debacle, NBC needs as much promise as it can get.
"Parenthood" premieres March 2nd on NBC, 10/9c
NBC's "Parenthood" Preview by Totally Her
Problems with "Parenthood" by America's Television Sweetheart
Lauren Graham Dives Into "Parenthood" by Michael Fleming of Variety
Megan Smith is the BlogHer Contributing Editor covering Television/Online Video. Her other blogs are Megan's Minute, quirky commentary around the clock and Meg's Rad Review.