In this series, we'll have a look at all the Fall TV shows that grace my DVR in an effort to point you to the programs worth committing to, the ones that might have some value, and the ones you should avoid at all costs. They will be graded accordingly as either "Season Pass" (I'm in for the full season), "Week-to-Week" (could lose my attention at some point), "Scrap Heap" (will probably collect on my DVR until I either run out of space or run out of other things to watch), or "Two Week Special" (any show I start I'll give two weeks before I nix).
A late season replacement last Spring, "Parenthood" is all about the Bravermans, a family of Californians consisting of the parents and their four grown children and their families. Headlined by Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia ("Die Hard"), the real strength of the show rests in their children played by Lauren Graham, Peter Krause, Dax Sheppherd, and (to a lesser extent) Erika Christensen. Last season's premiere caught a bad break from the atrocious marketing campaign in the form of a relentless stream of commercials in which the show was branded a true comedy which it most assuredly is not. I was expecting an hour long version of "Modern Family" and it took me a couple of episodes to come around on the family dramedy method but once I did, the show found a good rhythm.
The Bravermans are an extremely tight, strong family, which is something that is definitely missing from network TV these days. The bonds they share are quite real and authentic, the type of things that an actual family could expect to go through. One family member is overworked, another underemployed. One child is annoyingly perfect, another Autistic. Marriage issues, familial jealousy, and money problems are all subject matter that "Parenthood" deals in on a weekly basis. Yet everything is handled in a remarkably good natured, light hearted way. It's a hopeful show, almost the exact opposite of, say, "Glee" which kind of makes me want to dress in black and start smoking cigarettes every week. The Bravermans and the actors who portray them are, for better or worse, truly connected to each other and that really does come across to the audience.
Verdict: Season Pass