Considering Parenthood had its last new episode of 2012 last night, this may seem like an inopportune moment to make a passionate plea with you to start watching the criminally underrated NBC drama. After all, the next new episode doesn't air until Tuesday, January 1, 2013. (Honestly, I can't think of a better way to ring in the New Year.) On second thought, that gives you almost three weeks to get up to speed on the first three (and a half) seasons of the series. Now in its fourth season, what started off as a touching, if not Hallmark-y spin on the 1989 Steve Martin movie of the same name, Parenthood is the best drama on television you're not watching.
Call it the blessing and the curse of the Katims. Jason Katims created the fan favorite and critical darling Friday Night Lights, which struggled desperately in the ratings and didn't receive any Emmy love until it went off the air. While Parenthood isn't in as dire straights as FNL was and if Emmy knows what's good for it, it'll nominate Monica Potter for her fearless performance this year, it is unfortunately down in the ratings this year. It's a shame really, considering this has been the show's best season to date.
Parenthood follows the trials and tribulations of the multi-generational, multicultural, multi-layered Braverman clan. Move over, Modern Family, this is the real deal. While some family members are unequivocally more interesting than others (Erika Christensen and Sam Jaeger's Julia and Joel are consistently the show's weakest links), some have better hair than others, and certainly story lines are undeniably schlocky, when the show hits, it hits right on the mark. The series has deftly handled weighty topics — alcoholism, Autism, and this season, breast cancer — without veering into overwrought or pandering terrain. Yes, Parenthood knows how to go right for the jugular when it comes to making its audience feel all the feelings and cry all the ugly cries, but it's never manipulative. The writers and actors have made the characters too genuine to do that.
Take for instance last night's Christmas episode. When Potter's cancer-stricken Kristina winds up in the hospital on Christmas Eve, the whole thing could have dangerously veered into cheap, tear-baiting Family Stone territory. Don't get me wrong, tears were shed. Oh, were they shed. But the scenes were done with with both high emotions and still-grounded-in-reality restraint.
But never mind that Parenthood is a rare well-acted, top-notch family drama: it's a television lover's dream come true. The cast is a veritable who's who of TV royalty, including Six Feet Under's Peter Krause, Gilmore Girls' Lauren Graham, Coach's Craig T. Nelson, and Arrested Development's Mae Whitman. (Her? Yep, her. She's incredible in it, too. During last night's episode she had what was, without question, the show's best, most believable couple argument.) It's an even bigger treat for FNL fans, as Katims routinely brings his alumni on the show for recurring roles. Minka Kelly, Michael B. Jordan, and Matt Lauria have all made their way from Dillon, Texas to whatever unbelievably picturesque slice of Berkeley the Bravermans have set up shop in.
It's appointment television that doesn't rely on gimmicky cliffhangers every week, it's refreshingly uncynical in a television landscape overrun by that, it consistently allows its characters to make mistakes and evolve (when Sarah Ramos' Haddie leaves for college, she actually leaves for college), it makes damn good use of its guest stars (namely Graham's respective love interests Jason Ritter and John Corbett, who were Emmy-worthy in their own right), and it doesn't pretend to be anything it's not. This is a show that's about as as cool as the Bravermans' dance moves, but that's exactly what makes them and the show so great: they're not trying to be anything they aren't. It's a little bit corny and often times a bit too convenient, but like the Bravermans, the show's heart is in the right place.
Parenthood airs on Tuesdays at 10 PM ET on NBC. The first three seasons are available on Netflix and episodes from Season 4 are available On Demand and on Hulu.com
[Photo credit: NBC]
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Dear fans of The X Factor, Glee, and any other Fox programs ripped from the schedule thanks to the World Series, Simmer down now. I’m sorry, that was harsh. I mean, cool your jets. Every year, Fox hosts this little thing known as the Major League Baseball post-season, this includes the anxiety-inducing playoffs and of course, the Big Kahuna: the World Series. Game 1 aired last night, and it was glorious. For most fans of sports, fun, and America, this time of year is exciting. It’s a pre-holiday blitz of irrational yelling, elated and unintelligible cheering, and sanctioned drinking on a work night. It’s one of the best times of the year. It’s a time when you get to enjoy the faux-anger of a team rivalry with your friends and cohorts in a friendly (though it doesn’t always appear that way) display every time the boys in blue (or red or orange or green) take the field. It’s great, so great that we temporarily forget that we’re without episodes of some of our favorite televisual escapes. “How could you forget?” you may ask. “We’re eagerly anticipating the return of Rachel Berry and Co. How can you handle the wait?” Well, there are a few answers to your questions (one for each potential game of the Series). 1. Baseball. Champions. Are. Important. Don’t you see? Whoever wins the World Series earns bragging rights for their fans for an entire year. From the end of November until October the following year, the champs’ fans get to boast, brag, and beat their chests and no one can say nay – except, of course, the losing side who earns a year of the phrase “we were robbed.” This is a big deal. 2. It only happens once a year. That means for approximately a week and half with a few other nights peppered in throughout October, you have to put up with baseball taking over your beloved Fox shows. Only once! Then it’s over and you’re back to trying to figure out which of Britney Spears’ singers deserves to sing again next week. Breathe. It will be okay. 3. There’s simply not enough time in the day. Some of us love both television and baseball. What? How could that be possible? It just is. And for those of us who love both sport and entertainment, it’s a blessing to have a bit of a programming break during postseason baseball. Who has time to watch a three (or so) hour baseball game and then watch the three hours of TV that happened while the baseball was going on? Not many people. We have jobs, you know. 4. Think of Postseason Baseball like Christmas break. Look, your TV shows take a winter hiatus for two weeks before Christmas and two weeks after New Year’s Eve. That’s a might huge break, and the networks don’t even replace all that empty space with alternate programming. It’s just reruns! If you can stomach that, you can stomach a few weeks of America’s greatest pastime. 5. It’s American, and you live in ‘Merica. This is also known as the “everybody’s doing it” argument. Last year, when the St. Louis Cardinals battled the Texas Rangers, an average of 16.6 million viewers tuned in over the span of seven games, reaching a peak of 25.4 million viewers during the final, series-ending showdown. That’s a lot of people. That many people can’t be wrong, right? 6. If you want it to be over, you have a built-in excuse to root for the team that’s ahead. My father would cry foul over such a suggestion, but why not turn your rage at the absence of Will Shuester’s curly coif by channeling your rage into ardent support of whatever team is ahead in the World Series. After all, it only takes four wins to take the title, the more games the winningest team takes early on, the faster the whole thing will be over with. 7. Books are still a thing, you know. Okay, so you don’t like any of my reasons. Fine. Remember those pages full of words we used to read in school? They’re like magazines, but longer and with fewer pictures. Some of your favorite television shows and movies couldn’t exist without the books that inspired them. If you’re not going to enjoy one of the greatest games known to man, then do yourself a favor and read a book. It will be fun, I promise. The Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants face off in Game 2 of the World Series Friday at 7:30 PM ET. Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler [Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo] More:What's The Trouble With the Curve About? Clint Eastwood Explains It to The Chair Singing Showdown: Who Came Out on Top, The Voice or The X Factor?
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Amidst protestation, a church in Alamogordo, New Mexico burned Harry Potter and other books Sunday. Jack Brock, pastor and founder of the Christ Community Church, called the book burning a "blessing" and called the literary works "masterpieces of satanic deception," teaching children witchcraft, according to The Associated Press. Across the street from the church, protesters held signs saying, "Book burning? Shame on our town."
Britain honored some of their best when the Queen's New Year Honors List for 2002 was announced Monday. Actor Ben Kingsley, boxer Lennox Lewis and pop sensations The Bee Gees were among some of the lucky Brits to make the cut.
American Music Awards producer Dick Clark is mad at the King of Pop. Michael Jackson has backed out of appearing on the awards show Jan. 9, due to a conflict with the Grammy Awards, where Jackson is also scheduled to perform. Clark has filed suit against the Grammy organizers for what he calls "blacklisting" where the Grammys stipulate an artist cannot perform on the show if they also perform on the American Music Awards.
Rosie O'Donnell held a $250 per person private fund-raiser Sunday for Janet Reno, the former U.S. attorney general and current Democratic candidate for Florida state governor. "When I heard that she was running I called her office and told her I would do any and everything I can," O'Donnell told the AP.
Brian Warner, aka Marilyn Manson, has escaped jail time when a U.S. judge dropped the sexual misconduct charges against the rocker. Manson now faces fines of $2,000 for an assault and battery charge.
Who says the 1970s Bill Cosby cartoon Fat Albert isn't still the bomb? First, UPN's Christmas Eve special The Fat Albert Christmas Special won its 8 p.m. time slot and now a big screen version will be released in 2003, directed by Forest Whitaker. Hey, hey, hey!
One of the main roads in Austin, Texas was shut down Friday, but lined with fans, when the 68-year-old country singer Willie Nelson rode a horse down the street while filming a music video. The video is for a duet Nelson did with Lee Ann Womack.
The Clintons got into the holiday spirit in New York Thursday night, at the Brassiere 81/2, according to The Post. Dad Bill, mom Hillary and daughter Chelsea partied on, especially Bill and Chelsea who reportedly were hitting the vodka pretty hard. Reportedly ex-pres Bill lost his cell phone between the restaurant and his limo.
Crooner Barry Manilow isn't talking--quite literally. Manilow has been ordered to be completely silent for a few days due to severe bronchitis and had to postpone three weekend concert appearances. His New Year's Eve show, however, will go on as scheduled. Thank God.
A live broadcast from the University Christian Church on the campus of Texas Christian University, of the Disciples of Christ Christmas Service held at midnight. The special aired as an ABC News Special Broadcast.