Anybody else catch that new fangled dramedy NBC’s been hyping like they suddenly had a massive hole at 10 PM and their late night ratings depended on it? It seems like I couldn’t watch TV for more than 10 minutes without catching an ad for Parenthood these past couple months. That wouldn’t have been so bad had the commercials occasionally used more than the same 5 or 6 clips. Regardless, the show seemed to be up my proverbial alley and thus piqued my curiosity enough to set the DVR. And with 2 episodes down the verdict is… not in.
Not that I expect every new series to perfectly sell itself immediately, but Parenthood has left me a tad befuddled. The thing is, I like most of the characters. Alright, I don’t necessarily like them as people, rather they are all somewhat flawed characters that are being forced to deal with their limitations. That would normally be a pretty solid formula for success in the world of dramedy except for one tiny detail – the conflicts setting the stage for their growth are all INTENSE and IN YOU FACE and coming at you at 100 MPH!
Like I said, there have been 2 episodes. In those 2 episodes we’ve had the single mom move her family back home with the grandparents, 2 teenagers get arrested, another runs away, yet another is diagnosed with Asperger’s, one of the arrested girls gets held back in her new school, the slacker/carefree brother finds out his girlfriend is trying to get pregnant then finds out he has a 5 year old son from a previous relationship, all while the career-minded sister begins to realize her daughter is more attached to her stay-at-home dad whom she begins to suspect is cheating. Oh, and Craig T. Nelson still has condoms in his desk drawer. Did I miss anything? That sounds like material for a good 6 or 7 episodes, not 2 hours of TV viewing.
Maybe it’s the new parent in me, but I was kind of hoping for a show that touched upon the minor and major issues that families face. Does everything always have to be an emergency? Possible the only “normal” kind of situation was Peter Krause getting angry over a possum that kept waking him up at night. Everything else has been meltdown-worthy. Then again TV shows these days often seem to be nothing but disaster after disaster. Can we get a little subtlety, please?
I’m not going to give up yet. I do like Lauren Graham’s character as the single mom, as well as how they’ve handled the aspergers situation with Peter Krause playing a father who has to overcome his feelings that kids like that are freaks. Craig T. Nelson is annoying, but in the way you might expect an “overly supportive” father/grandfather to be. I’m having a hard time buying Erika Christensen as part of the same family, but she had a particularly cringe-worthy scene this week so I’ll cut her some slack.
Parenthood has a lot going for it, but I’m afraid that at this pace there will be hostage situations or mysterious comas by mid-season. Why do I have a feeling that NBC can’t help but screw up a solid idea like this?