The new series… well, not a new series, the second attempt of doing a series off of the movie… Parenthood is a very serious attempt. It’s got Peter Krause of SportsNight playing someone who is (among other things) a kids’ sports coach; Craig T. Nelson of Coach playing a sports-intensive grampa, and Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls playing a female.
As good as the lineup is in front of the camera, there are some pretty powerful name behind the camera. The pilot was directed by Thomas Schlamme, of West Wing and SportsNight. It was written by Jason Katims… and that’s the name to focus on here, I think. Katims has quality credentials from My So-Called Life to Friday Night Lights… but the credit I want to focus on here is Relativity, a short-lived drama with a really annoying central romance (the boy played by Katims himself) but really good supporting stories about the central characters family.
And that’s what this feels like – the supporting stuff from Relativity. This story deals with several generations, and with people dealing with various combinations of life situations. In this case, it deals with different forms of parenthood – the grandparent, the well-meaning parents with the problem son, the divorced mom with a daughter at risk, the guy who didn’t know he had a kid, the woman working towards being a single mother by choice. True, we don’t get a lesbian Lise Edelstein in this one, but you can’t have everything.
So it’s all respectably done, but the fact that it doesn’t have that problematic center story doesn’t mean that the center story isn’t a problem. I’m not sure going without something at the center is a good thing, or whether they’re building a structure that’s all rococo trim and no load-bearing pillars. I’m certainly willing to spend a while finding out… and seeing this certainly closed the door on my continuing to watch the thematically-interesting crap of Life Unexpected.