Tuesday, March 02, 2010

'Parenthood' review: Sepinwall on TV

I already wrote about the Asperger's syndrome storyline on NBC's "Parenthood," and in today's column, I review "Parenthood" itself. The verdict: thumbs up.

Because this is a busy week, and because I've already written a fair amount about the show, use this post to discuss the pilot episode after it airs tonight. When I get a chance, I'll bump it up to the top of the blog again if other posts get in the way.

UPDATE: Bumpity-bump-bump-bump. What did everybody else think?

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Alan, did your prefer the darker pilot with Maura Tierney or the newer version with Lauren Graham?

Alex said...

Is Adam Braverman related in anyway to Larry Braverman, graduate of Whitehaven High School?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Newer one. It's better in virtually every way, other than Graham and Tierney being about equal (but different) in their performances.

NBCsBack said...

Alan, I think that Parenthood is going to be a huge hit for NBC, the actors are that good. The show has enormous potential. Why? 3 reasons. 1. Parenthood has mass audience it's appeal. 2. NBC promoted the hell out of Parenthood during the Olympics. 3. It's airing right after the Biggest Loser.

Miken said...

I'll watch anything with Krause (Sports Night and Six Feet Under are two of my favorites) and I enjoy Graham, Nelson and Matt Doud from Eli Stone (not sure if you liked that one Alan, but it was really good).

I've even been impressed with the clips I have seen of Dax Shepard. I've never liked the guy, but he seems like he is cast really well.

I already watch too much TV but I'm going to start watching this because I really think it will be good.

Anonymous said...

This will become a DVR regular for me due to its time slot. I plan to support Southland to the end in hopes that it gets picked up for a third season. That being said, this is the only new NBC show i've looked forward to in the 09-10 season and I hope that it's successful.

Hannah Lee said...

I'm looking forward to this show a lot.

It was disappointing when Tierney had to drop out, and I have to admit, the prospect of Helen Hunt stepping into the role worried me. But with Lauren Graham on board and the previews/reviews I've seen, this seems like a show I could come to love.

Too bad it goes up against The Good Wife, which I also like and which also features a Sports Night alumnus.

Alex said...

I really wanted to this to be another downbeat HerskoZwick drama. Katims owes it to them to keep that kind of show on television if HBO don't want to anymore.

David Sims said...

I thought this was outstanding. In a very traditional, network, classy way, but it was terrific. I always liked Brothers & Sisters kinda for the same reasons but just one episode here showed me how you really do a show like that.

Alyson said...

Alan, I think you may have seen an extended version of the pilot. I just finished watching and didn't see the two scenes you pointed out in your review regarding how Adam reacts to the Aspergers. If I am wrong, someone please correct me. Even without the scenes you mention, I thought they did a good job with the initial reaction, particularly the scene between Adam and his father outside the school recital.

The working mom storyline might be recycled, but that little girl is adorable, so I'll buy into it for now.

Finally, it's just good to see Lauren Graham on TV again. I've missed her.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alyson, I've seen two episodes, so some of the stuff mentioned in the column was from next week's show.

Hannah Lee said...

There really were a lot of moving pieces in this episode. But, with so much going on they did a pretty good job pulling it all together.

I feel like we got glimpses of the characters, maybe more of Sarah and Crosby, and a sense of how they relate, but it will take a few more episodes to really get comfortable with them all.

The top notch cast really showed what they can do...I don't think there was a false moment in any of it, which is unusual for a pilot.

2 minor quibbles: The music overpowered some scenes, and boy does that family have a lot of free time to get together for ballgames, dinners and recitals.

Alyson said...

Ah, thank for the clarification, Alan. I was wondering if I had somehow missed some pivotal scenes.

Nick said...

A few bloggers have said that TV was really looking for a good family drama and dubbed Life Unexpected to be that show. I think Parenthood usurps that position. While Life Unexpected has been better in the last few episodes, it still has that WB feel to it that will always keep it niche. I've only seen the pilot of Parenthood but it already feels more mature and the talent anchoring the series (Lauren Graham, Peter Krause, Craig T Nelson) have far more experience endearing an audience to their roles. I don't want to say NBC has a hit on their hands (because I know better) but I think, with all the time they have left to fill, Parenthood is pretty safe to keep a slot somewhere in the schedule.

But: what about that line where Sarah yells at her sister about feeling inferior in sex appeal? "I get it! You're sexier! Why do you always have to prove it?" Lauren Graham? Really? Who are they kidding? Am I supposed to believe that she's mediocre-looking?

Also: Does Lauren Graham really fall in love with her daughter's teacher at a new school again? Oh, Lorelai.

And: I hope they keep the natural dialogue format with people talking over each other, continuing multiple conversations, the Altman approach. Feels more realistic among people that have known each other all their lives rather than the turn-based system we typically see used for dramatic effect.

Off-topic: I know NBC is experimenting more and more with different ways to incorporate advertising with content but there has to be a better way than the "Thank You, Nissan" we got from the show's more touted stars. Of everything in the show, that was probably the most saccharine.

Anonymous said...

Here's a trailer with Maura Tierney for anyone interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vCDj0tsEp0

I liked the show, but I have a feeling it will end up falling into the same trap Brothers & Sisters fell into with such a large cast--some characters will end up marginalized like Balthazar Getty and his wife did. As it is, it really seems like Krause and Graham's show more than anyone else's. The Dax Shepherd character was annoyingly cliche until the twist with him already being a father and Erika Christensen seems extremely miscast in her role (she just seems way too young.) I wouldn't really care if either of those characters faded into the background. Personally I wish they'd ditched those characters from the start and focused more on Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia.

Mike F said...

I can't believe you actually liked this....I'm a huge fan of a few of the actors involved (Nelson and Graham in particular).

But this just seemed awful, dark, depressing, and I thought just about every character came off as a major tool for almost the entire hour.

I don't think there was more than 2-3 laughs in the entire hour, which shocked me! Wow.

The thing is I usually like dark comedy, but this show seems to be missing the comedy.

Both my wife and I were floored by how bad we thought this was...and we both really really wanted to like the show.

Savvy Veteran said...

Well hey, I really liked this! I laughed a lot, and maybe only 2% of the sappier stuff made me roll my eyes. (The other 98% of it lightly misted said eyes.) I was down with just about everything it was throwing at me, I loved the cast (Krause and Graham were both particularly good), and I'll definitely be back next week.

Also: the 50 or so-minute episode length was a very nice surprise, after what somehow felt like a 20-minute episode of "Lost" that took an hour to watch.

Sonia said...

Loved it. I thought it was great and the family interactions were played so well. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with this show.

Oh...and I watched Southland first,DVR'd Parenthood.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that seeing Lauren Graham on T.V. is really feeling good. I have high hopes for this - My only complaint is that it might have been to many faces being introduced all at once - It felt overwhelming at the end - i think i might watching it again just to get the faces and names right. Anyone else feel overwhelmed?

Megan said...

I really enjoyed the pilot, though I, too, fear that this might turn into a Brothers and Sisters mess before too long.

Anyway, I love Graham and Krause and the only moment of the show that really bothered me was the very quick glimpse we got of Dax Shepard's character meeting his son. Really? The mother sprung the news on him in front of the child? That was pretty awful.

LA said...

I loved it. The characters felt very well-formed for a pilot, and I can't wait to see what happens to them next week. Also, it's the first time I've liked Monica Potter in anything.

Bravo.

PY said...

Given how well Jason Katims handled a large cast with a number of moving parts with Friday Night Lights, I trust him not to turn this into a big mess.

LA said...

p.s. The kid who plays Max is a pretty terrific young actor.

belinda said...

I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. The cast itself is reason enough to tune in for a few more eps just to see what happens, it's manned by someone awesome like Katims, and it's somewhat interesting. But that's pretty much what I thought about Brothers and Sisters in its early days too - good cast, somewhat interesting once they got over the depressing pilot , and they even both have a SFU alum! It's all right, even good in some parts, but also just a bit generic as well.

Anonymous said...

Generally loved it. What are the ages of the kids and parents. Seems like they all had their kids extremely young. Lauren Graham is 38, her daughter is about 15-16. Assuming Adam is couple years older and their daughter is same age.

Brandy said...

We had primary results playing on the bottom of the screen so it was hard to focus... because of the screen being cut off and mostly getting caught up in the results...

So that made it particularly hard to get invested in everything. But the Krause story cut through which either says it was pretty good... or maybe that I'm a pretty big fan of PK.

Word var: Supsy--- which is either a combination of soapy and sappy or you know what it really is an anagram of... heh.

Anonymous said...

I thought it seemed uneven. The Kruse story line worked very well, the Graham stuff has been done but was well acted, everything else seemed like filler.

I liked it when it wasn't trying to be a comedy. I wish it was the "darker version" because this cast would knock that out of the park. I think it may be unfair, but, as has been said, Modern Family is the measuring stick for the family comedy stuff and it shouldn't try and do that as that ship sailed. I was expecting something more in the mold of Friday Night Lights.

I'll give it another episode out of respect for the cast, but I don't think it will make the DVR.

Jill Mader said...

I loved it. I've always been a huge fan of Lauren Graham and will pretty much watch her in anything. She was excellent in this, but I also really liked the rest of the cast as well. I thought the show had great character develepment for just the first episode, and I can't wait to see where the plot will go!

-Jill (couchtimewithjill.blogspot.com)

Matthew said...

I think the biggest revelation for me is that is Krause pronounces his last name Krau-zuh.

I watched solely due to Alan's rec and thought it was so-so. Enough to continue for now. I would've watched Southland at that time instead, but the DVR couldn't handle everything with the Lost overrun so Parenthood got the nod. It is pretty amazing that this family all stuck together in the same city and has so much time to spend together. Especially now that Lauren Graham was able to relocate from far away Fresno. If working career girl Erika Christensen would spend more of her precious little free time with her daughter than at these regular extended family gatherings, maybe they'd connect better.

Anonymous said...

I never saw the movie Parenthood but I watched the show last night after reading Alan's review. I loved it.

I watched Krause in Dirty Sexy Money (an underrated show IMO). The rest of the adult cast seems very strong. I also thought the troubled teenage daughter did a real nice job.

Anonymous said...

Now I have a DVR problem thanks to lost running until 10:02 PM most episodes (I'd like to say it was b/c Lost added more to the story but it was about 50% commercials last night).

Lost until 10:02 with Parebthood at 10 and Southland at 10. What's a DVR junky to do?

Matthew said...

@Anonymous from 10:35am

Since TNT reruns Southland at 1am, I was able to get around the Lost/Parenthood/Southland 10:00pm DVR pileup.

JanieJones said...

I enjoyed it. It was a very strong pilot.
I'm a big fan of Krause and Graham. Their story lines were the most interesting to me.
The casting was well done.
*I have to agree with LA-this is probably the first thing I've ever seen Monica Potter where she did not annoy me.

*Brothers and Sisters-I had a passing thought about the correlation of that show and Parenthood. I hope and think Parenthood will not go down that ridiculous road.

cadfile said...

Something is missing... I didn't hate the episode but stopped watching after the first half - might go back to it later.

The cast is what I liked especially Lauren Graham but the plot and storyline just seemed tired and depressing. Guess I remember the movie version too much.

Not looking for a sitcom but the drama was awfully dark and that just isn't very real.

Going to give this a shot on my DVR since I love The Good Wife too much so hopefully the next episodes lighten up a touch or at least include some lighter scenes.

Henry said...

I like the show, but there was one thing that really annoyed me: the musical cues of the show telling me what emotion to feel, which if I remember correctly is the same thing that is afflicting another dramedy called Grey's Anatomy. Does the show really have to be so reliant on music.

(Maybe this is just a result of my binging recently on The Wire, which does not feature much in terms of music so the acting and plots comes to the forefront)

Stryker said...

Not as good as hoped. Graham's character is unlikable

Anonymous said...

Having finally seen the show I cannot possibly imagine Helen Hunt in the Sarah role. Glad that didn't happen.

Anonymous said...

Graham's character is unlikable

Agree with this. I never drank the Gilmore Girl Kool-Aid and therefore am not harboring any loyalty to the actress.

It was good otherwise.

bratcat said...

I felt obligated to tune in because Katims and Howard are responsible for two of my all time favs (Friday Night Lights and Arrested Development) and for the most part they didn't dissapoint. The show has potential, I like that there are lots of characters to keep track of, and with some luck the ensemble cast might be as strong as FNL's and AD's.

I like Graham and think she will do well in this role, its hard to not watch her when she is on screen, great presence. I would've loved to see Tierney on there too though, love, love, love her. Any chance she comes back in as another character? Wishful thinking, I know.

How fittingly, I didn't even recognize Ann Veal from AD playing Graham's daughter. Maybe we'll get to see her eat a mayon-egg.

My only beef with casting is with the poor man's Julia Stiles as the lawyer daughter, she just doesn't 'fit' with the rest of the family.

I've named their house "Land of 1,000 Lamps". Seriously, there's never less than 8 lamps on in any room in that house. Is Zeke the owner of a light bulb wholesaler?

Jury is still out but I'll be tuning in next week. Alan, as always, great recap.

Sharon said...

I wish I liked it more. I wanted to like it. With the exception of Dax Shepherd, I think the cast is stellar. But something was missing for me. It didn't engage me the way I needed it to, so I won't be back next week.

Yellowdog said...

Great cast, but man is it earnest. They need to check that. And is it me or does it seem like one long montage with the music and the quick scenes?

Anonymous said...

Loved the show, especially the Asperger storyline. The only storyline I didn't find interesting was the working mom whose daughter prefers daddy.

Did you notice that Mae Whitman and Max Burkholder, who play cousins on this show, previously played brother and sister on "In Treatment", where they were Paul's kids?

Anonymous said...

I knew I recognized the teenage daughter from somewhere, thanks to whoever identified Ann from AD. But who was Lauren Graham's date? He looked very familiar, but I could not place him and IMDb is no help.

Jeff said...

The Waltons move to Berkeley. The whitest show on TV. Yo!

Yellowdog said...

Lauren Graham's date was Mike O'Malley, who almost always wears a baseball cap. He is Kurt's dad in Glee, as well as many years as the brother-in-law on Yes, Dear. He's also a very annoying pitchman for cable television. He does a good job everywhere else, though.

steph said...

agree that maura tierney brings a warmth to the screen that i miss (from the trailers), but then again i've never seen gilmore girls.

thanks for id'ing ann veal and kurt's dad!
good to see sam jaeger again too.

dax shepard is pretty annoying but the role fits him. (who names their kid crosby?... then again, who names their kid jabbar...)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Yellowdog! It must have been the lack of baseball cap that threw me. I love him on Glee.

Pamela Jaye said...

I watched the original movie - on TV. I'm not sure I ever saw the entire movie in order until some time in the past 3 years, though.

More unusually, I saw the original NBC series. At least once. I had to look it up to see what happened. Apparently it was dropped to 30 minutes and moved to Saturday. No wonder I can't remember. But somwhere in my head, I know I sometimes can't tell who was in the movie and who was in the original series.
I hear a review that made it sound absolutely gloomy, so I was glad to hear you liked it, even though I didn't read your review till just now and I watched ep when it aired.

I have to admit that it reminds me of Brothers & Sisters, only with older offspring and no politics. I like B&S, so this works for me. (remember how everyone hated B&S before it aired?)

The difference I see from B&S right off, and maybe it's just me: there is one "parent" who everyone is always running to for help. Everyone.
And there may be fewer cell phone calls (I swear B&S is underwritten by some cellphone company - but I do love those scenes)

I've only seen one ep of Modern Family, but it occurs to me that to be on a new family series this year, you must have been a star of Boston Legal.

I did have a lot of confusion with one thing - who were the siblings and who were the mates/prospective mates. I could not catch it till the end and I'm still working on the names.

Mae Whitman has grown up since she was on Chicago Hope. But I saw her in season 3 of Grey's Anatomy (and Max in season 2) so I knew that. And Shlamme (sp?) was directing?

The big family dinner scenes: just this week, the cast of Eight is Enough said they take a whole day to shoot (the cast of B&S said so too)

I'll be good once I catch all the names and who's who. Till then it'ss going to feel like this.

Pamela Jaye said...

booboo on my part - the kid wh played Max was not in the Grey's ep I thought he was - but he *was* in an ep. Maybe season 4.