Emotions which are usually felt when watching a series premiere: Boredom. Uncertainty. Annoyance. Confusion. Not that all premieres are bad (a few notable exceptions are Lost and Six Feet Under) but some of the best shows on television had mediocre, or even terrible, premieres at best (BTVS and Angel). It generally takes a few episodes to get into the series and to decide whether or not it’s worth the watch. If a show every makes a significance impression it generally will continue to be a show I watch, but if not it gets a few more episodes to win me over.
After watching last night’s premiere of Parenthood, it’s classification among the grand scale of good and bad premieres falls somewhere in between. The story beings with Sarah (Lauren Graham) moving home to live with her parents after she can’t afford her current home while raising her two angst-ridden children. Sarah is one of four siblings and the family is filled with a star-studded cast: Peter Krause plays the older go-to sibling Adam, Erika Christensen is cast as the typical career-focused and business savvy lawyer Julia, and Dex Shepard tries a semi-serious role as the immature younger brother Crosby. Right off the bat it becomes clear that the title of this show is the focus: all four of these characters deal with being parents and the ramifications that the title brings with it. Sarah has two teenagers. One immediately suggests his desire to move in with his father, a dead-beat singer, and throughout the episode realizes that said father is always going to be non-existant in his life. The second child is a the bad-ass, all in black, yet extremely watchable Amber (played to perfection by Mae Whitman of In Treatmant and that adorable movie One Fine Day). Meanwhile, Adam and his wife (played by Monica Potter) deal with the newf ound discovery that their son is suffering from asperger’s disease. They also have a daughter who does little more in the episode other than get arrested alongside Amber for smoking pot (which may or may not be hers to begin with). Julia only has one child who seems to hugely prefer her father over her career-preoccupied mom. Lastly, Crosby is seemingly childless as he tries to put off impregnating his girlfriend, only to learn by the end of the episode that his ex-girlfriend had his child years ago.
Overall, the episode was enjoyable and, as with most premiere’s, hard to judge. There were a few notable pros and cons:
1/ Monica Potter and Peter Krause stole the show with their emotional reactions to their son’s disease. At first, Potter was the clear star as she break down while delivering the news to her husband. Shortly thereafter, Adam tearfully pleas for his father’s help and wins the heart of this reader (and presumably the entire audience).
2/ The relationship between Sarah and Amber will likely be the best parent-child pairing in the show. Lauren Graham, while not the best actress on the show, was extremely believable as the out of place mother who still held her children up to a certain standard. Her disapproval of rebellious daughter Amber was both fitting and heartbreaking once Amber showed her softer side. Nothing was more enjoyable than watching these two fight and immediately after having Amber help her mother with her date wardrobe.
3/ Casting. All of these characters were cast perfectly based on the premiere. Other than Potter and Krause who stole the show, props go to Mae Whitman for quickly making Amber the only intriguing child (with the exception of Max who does a surprisingly good job portraying a child with asperger’s).
1/ The entire first half of the episode moved fairly slowly. It wasn’t until Potter’s emotional scene that the interest began to build.
2/ Lauren Graham really is an amazing actress but I’m not crazy about her character yet. Less of a focus on her would have been preferred. Then again I bet this show will fall into Brothers and Sisters mode (ie. the new female sibling in town is the main character initially but as the season continues they all share equal time).
3/ The surprise love-child at the end is in poor taste. I would rather watch Crosby deal with the ramifications of becoming a new parent and raising a child, and less with him discovering that he has a new child (also, people learn a lesson: if a girl claims to have given birth to your child but said nothing for three years you must immediately ask for a paternity test….hmm surprise babies are very Brothers and Sisters.
4/ Brothers and Sisters!!! Seriously, this show can be called Parenthood and it can semi-focus on the children but with only two out of six interesting children it’s bound to focus primarily on the siblings and their relationship (as most of the premiere did anyways). Unfortunately for Parenthood, it’s star sibling is Krause who can easily hold his own among the Walker clan but I can’t say the same for the other three…yet.
So did Parenthood pass the test? Well, it definitely didn’t fail since I will be watching a few more episodes at least. We’ll have to judge again after those next few are done…but I have a feeling it might just stay on my DVR after all.