A review of tonight's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I forget my worry beads...
"Parenthood" has a huge cast, and this early in the series, I'm sure there's both internal and external pressure to service them all as much as possible. Down the road, I wouldn't be surprised to see episodes where, say, we focus largely on Sarah and her kids, with the other family members seen only from Sarah's perspective. For now, though, Jason Katims and company want "Parenthood" to be clearly an ensemble, and that means some stories wind up more undercooked than others.
Once again, the plot with the strongest sense of focus was Adam coping with Max's Asperger diagnosis - or, rather, living in denial of it until being set straight by "the Bob Dylan of autism."(*) Peter Krause did a very good job at playing the confusion and need for a quick-fix that many dads would feel in that situation, and I thought Adam and Kristina's half-intimidated, half-horrified visit to meet the Asperger-veteran parents was really funny without really seeming to make too much fun of the other couple. (By the end, you could tell the Braverman's were suffering from information overload but were also kind of impressed that the Lessings know so much, even if sometimes they just let their own kid jump around the house and play loud music.)
(*) Bob Dylan did, in fact, have several albums hit number one, both here and in the UK, so is Max limiting his definition of "record" to mean "single" (where he got as high as #2 a few times)? Or did the creative team screw up not with the Asperger's, but with the music knowledge? I also found it interesting that, after the pilot featured Dylan's "Forever Young" at several points, an episode that repeatedly namechecked Dylan instead closed with Paul Simon's "St. Judy's Comet." I suppose they don't want to get pigeon-holed as "that show with the Dylan soundtrack." That, or his songs ain't cheap enough to license every week.
There was also another very entertaining scene with all the siblings (plus their mom) coming together after the auction, and partaking of the weed Adam found in his yard. These actors work very well together, and while seeing the whole clan get together this often is probably the show's biggest fantasy, seeing the brothers and sisters interact helps give us a clearer sense of who they are when they're each off in their own stories.
And those other individual plotlines were a bit sketchier than Adam's. Crosby, in particular, feels like he's not getting enough screen-time - and I'm surprised to be making that complaint about the Dax Shepard character in a show that co-stars Peter Krause, Lauren Graham and Erika Christensen - as I really enjoyed his breakfast date with his son (the grown-up questions thing, delivered deadpan by Shepard, was quite funny) and want to have a better sense of his relationship with Katie, which is mostly played as a goof.
I feel like I've seen the exact story with Julia feeling jealous of the stay-at-home mom on another show, but I'm blanking on what show that was. (Did Rachel Griffiths go through the same thing on "Brothers & Sisters," maybe?) Right now, Julia's the sibling who most verges on cliche, so I want to see where they take her in the future.
And Sarah actually got two stories in one, with her losing out on the dream job (though it was ambiguous whether she ever really had a shot, or if even the positive first interview was the guy sucking up to Adam by proxy) and then going to bat for Amber with her principal. Graham has the most experience of anyone in the cast on trying to do comedy and drama simultaneously, and you can see the creative team leaning on her for that, as we get to see Sarah be amusingly bumbling at picking out a good interview outfit, then awkward but ultimately charming in that interview, and then full-on mama bear in trying to get Amber out of the 10th grade. I also think Graham and Christensen play well off each other (or appear to, since their interactions are usually over the phone).
What did everybody else think?