Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pilot Review: Parenthood

Parenthood (NBC)
Premiered March 2 at 10pm

Sometimes the previews don’t accurately indicate what a show is going to be like. It’s the tendency of NBC to over-promote to death its upcoming series, especially if they feature Jerry Seinfeld. The quick spots that aired every ten minutes for the past few weeks weren’t terribly funny, but the good news is that they are much more entertaining in the show, and there are plenty more where those came from. The best part is that this is an extended family story that works, that emphasizes multiple generations and ensures that every one of its arcs is interesting unlike something like “Brothers & Sisters.” This show is a drama first and foremost, but there are still many humorous moments, and some of the threads are more comical than others. The cast is incredibly strong, and most importantly, it seems like there is much potential for the future of this show. The four siblings are played by an incredibly diverse cast of actors, but they all bring something different to the table. Peter Krause is back in fine “Six Feet Under” form after being a bit too elastic and unserious while headlining “Dirty Sexy Money,” and his genuine paternal instincts are what make him truly interesting, as does his relationship with his father, played by Craig T. Nelson. Lauren Graham, Erika Christensen, and Dax Shepard all do a fantastic job of representing the dating mother, workaholic devotee, and slacker extraordinaire with a surprise child in tow. The standout child has to be Mae Whitman (“Thief”) whose taken attitude and the way she speaks to her mother make her a fantastic rebel daughter for mother Graham to contend with in the house. There are surely many more significant plot developments on the way, and I’ll definitely be sticking around, and I can only hope that the magnificent Marguerite Moreau will be, even if she has to resort to those sperm she has on reserve since her would-be baby daddy has found a new child of his own.

How will it work as a series? Four grown siblings, two grandparents, two spouses, several grandchildren, and any number of girlfriends or boyfriends should make for more than enough material for this show to go on for a long time. If one thread doesn’t work, characters can easily be phased out, and the show’s title makes it clear that this show is about family dynamics, a phenomenon that doesn’t easily go away.
How long will it last? This should be on a long time simply because of how much NBC promoted it and the fact that they really don’t want to get rid of what could be a boon for them in the wake of their weekdays at 10pm failure. While the show didn’t receive overwhelmingly positive reviews, it’s the kind of series that could get better and become more popular. The much inferior “Brothers & Sisters” is already in the middle of its fourth season, so if NBC is as smart as ABC, maybe this one will make it that far too.

Pilot grade: B+