All Good In The 'Hood

8:54 AM Posted In , Edit This 0 Comments »
So last night I sucked it up and finished Parenthood for the season. And when I say sucked it up, I mean I was delaying ending the series...if only by a week. I still enjoy this show best when I have a few episodes backlogged on the PVR versus waiting it out from week to week. This latest backlog once again reminded me of all the things I like about the show, and all the things I don't. In general though, I'm pretty set that I will continue watching it next season. Much like Life Unexpected, it shows some promise, although it's not without its kinks. So without further ado...

The good & The bad!
+ Every actor can hold their own on this series (with the exception of personality-less Joel...give the man a bone!) which means it's hard to get bored. It's easy for the writers to shuffle in who has the A/B/C/D plots each week, rather than sidelining characters at one point or another.

- I seriously feel for the dude that plays Joel though. He's like the boyfriend you know the heroine is going to break up with in a movie. If Christina can have her own storyline, why can't Joel have one that isn't simply seen through the lens of Erika Christensen?

+ There are still quite a few unanswered questions from the finale. Namely, what will happen to Zeke (and Camille - are they a unit again?) in light of his rejection of the investment property deal? Will Mr. Cyr and Sarah reconnect? What's going on with Crosby and Jasmine? Will Sarah ever find a home of her own? Will Christina stop being psychotic / go back to work? Will Hattie ("Patti") keep her dark unattractive bob? Will Timm return? Will Amber and Steve hook up again? Will Crosby move off his non-moving houseboat? Okay, so the only real cliffhanger was the Crosby/Jasmine thing, and to a degree the Zeke/property thing, but still, I appreciate that the show doesn't just abandon things and continually brings back characters and moments from past episodes (and now, past seasons).

- The show likes to employ a talking-over-one-another thing, that was best used on American Dreams (which incidentally reminds me of this show but in the 1960s. The fact that Hattie/Patti is the same actress doesn't help). However, American Dreams used it sparingly, mostly in the dinner table scenes. Parenthood uses it frequently, mostly in scenes that end up in cross-family screaming matches that really, really drive me nuts. Yes people do overlap their speech and have a slightly frenetic pace of speaking...some of the time. Definitely not as often as this show employs it. It feels like that one episode of Gilmore Girls where Lorilei & co had a ridiculous fight episode at the Gilmores', I believe it was called "Friday Night's Alright". They're taking Lauren Graham's fast-talking skills and applying them to an irritating use.

+ The show has made really likable characters (for the most part, ugh Christina and Hattie) of a number of sort of B-list actors. Major kudos in particular to making me like Erika Christensen, Dax Shepard, and Joy Bryant so much - their storylines are often the highlight for me. I also am increasingly liking Mae Whitman, until she loses it on Sarah.

+/- I have mixed feelings about the character of Alex. I feel like he can be a bit of a throwaway character, although the last episode previewed some ongoing tensions that I'm sure will permeate future seasons - namely that he's shyly looking for a mentor and has elected Adam to fit the role, to the chagrin of his challenged family. I actually like him when he gets more than two lines to say per episode, so like Joel, here's hoping he gets a stronger storyline next year.

+ I like the ongoing integration of minor external characters - Steve and his parents, the nerdy parents of the autistic kid, Raquel & Harmony, Timm, Jim Kazinski, Mr. Cyr, and so on. I hope the show keeps this up and creates a community outside of this family.

- I'm a little concerned about slate wiping, my most hated dramatic technique. It seemed like Hattie and Amber resolved things a little too quickly when the drama was quite ripe between the parents, but I'm also hoping the writers don't let the situation off that easy. Perhaps future storylines will dredge up bad blood between the cousins. Ditto to Zeke and Camille. Despite Julia & Crosby getting their turn to tear a strip off Zeke after the cheating / investment debacle, I was puzzled at the final family festive fracas at the baseball tryout. I really don't feel the connection between these two actors, which worked for driving them apart, but didn't make me sympathetic to their little tete a tete at the end of this episode. I cringed when Craig T. Nelson pulled out his guitar. I think the problem here is we never saw the 'good days' for the couple, so it's hard to buy into wanting them to get back together so badly.

- There are still too many happy family reunions for this show to stick to any semblance of realism. I kind of gag a bit when they break into really hokey corny bits, like Adam & co trying to teach Alex to dance (in a way too long segment) or the family dancing to Crosby on the piano. Just...no.

In general though, the show is a great character study that lets you do the right amount of assuming. It reminds me of many a show - but isn't quite as awesome as the fantastic Friday Night Lights which is by the same creator I believe - but it's also unique in its own way.

Looking forward to the fall!

- Britt's On

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