Review - Parenthood, Episode 1.

Friday 8 April 2011

About six months ago, I was doing a bit of online research for my dissertation and stumbled across a link to a new American TV drama (my favourite kind of tv of course) called 'Parenthood'. Based on the Steve Martin film from 1989, created by the wonderful Ron Howard, who was responsible for Arrested Development, one of my all time favourite comedy programmes, and starring Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls fame, it was something I was definitely interested in. But alas, the dvd box set was region 1 only, and it seemed unlikely that I'd be getting to see it any time soon.

Imagine my delight then, when flicking through the Radio Times last week, I noticed by sheer accident that the very first episode was going to be showing on Fiver tonight at 10! I set up my tv to record it, but since I was doing nothing else tonight, I decided to watch it while it was on, and I was sufficiently impressed :)

As I said, one of the reasons I was keen to tune in was my love for Lauren Graham. She's one of these actresses you're going to love or you're going to hate, the character of Lorelai Gilmore was definitely a bit like marmite. I, fortunately, love her, and love the show, so I wanted to see what she would be like playing a different character - albeit another single mum. She plays Sarah, the mother of two teenage kids, fathered by her ex-husband (an ageing rockstar with a drug addiction), and big financial worries. In this Pilot episode, we see her moving back in with her parents for financial support, going out on a date with her highschool boyfriend (who's receeding hair line and coffee barrista career come as a shock to the system) and desperately trying to deal with her difficult teenage daughter Amber. While the character is not entirely dissimilar to Lorelai, the pace and style of the show is so completely different to Gilmore Girls that it shows of a slightly softer, less self-assured side to her. Lorelai was completely confident in herself, even when she was going through difficult times in her life - Sarah is different. She's vulnerable, and seeking reassurance from her siblings, from Jim (her date) and from her parents. I'm already interested to see where her character's going to go.

The Braverman family consists of patriarch Zeek (Craig T. Nelson), an authoritative figure who wants his boys to boys and his daughters to be princesses, his wife Camille (Bonnie Bedelia), a more peaceful character, and their four adult children. Sarah, her sister Julia (Erika Christensen), who's career as a lawyer is coming between her and her preschool daughter Sydney, and her two brothers Adam (played by Peter Krause - the eldest Braverman child, who's young son Max is diagnosed with Asbergers Syndrome) and Crosby, who discovers after finally agreeing to have a baby in three years with his on/off girlfriend, that he already has a young son he knew nothing about. Played by Dax Shepard, another actor I'm already fond of, his character is another I'm interested to see develop over the series.

Mae Whitman (anyone remember Anne from Arrested Development?!) plays Sarah's 16 year old daughter Amber, and she's already being presented as rebellious (she manages to get herself and her cousin, Adam's daughter Haddie, arrested in this episode), and her younger brother Drew (played by Miles Heizer) is suffering as a result of his father's absence. What with my fascination with family relationships, this is another storyline I'm already being drawn in by. I also enjoyed watching Lauren Graham interact as a parental figure with a teenage boy - GGs is such a mother-daughter centric show, it's nice to see her parental position shift in terms of parenting a son. The relationship between Adam and his wife Kristina (Monica Potter) is going to be interesting - especially with the revelation that 8 year old Max has Asperger Syndrome. If it's done well, I think this could be a brilliant storyline... only time will tell! As a sidenote, I think the little boy who plays Max (his name is Max Burkholder in real life) is excellent! It's only been one episode, but I think he's a brilliant wee actor.

Anyway, there's a ramble and a half. I'll aim to do a wee quick review each week, just to see if I have the will power! All in all, a very promising start to the show :) x

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