Last Night's Episode Of 'Parenthood': The Good, The Bad and The Ugh, Joel.
The Good: There was a lot of good in last night’s episode. The relationship stuff between Mae Whitman’s Amber and John Corbett’s Seth was far preferable to the relationship deterioration cycle plot line Whitman has been mired in this season. She is a phenomenal actress and at her best when she’s experiencing an emotional crisis. Nobody cries quite like that girl. But it was so refreshing to see it in a new and engaging context of this father daughter dynamic. No offense to Matt Lauria, but his absence was a relief.
Also good (no, maybe great) is Adam’s attempt to befriend Hank in order to help him come to terms with Max’s future. I’ve not always been a fan of Ray Romano’s character, but the therapy scene with Dr. Pelikan (Hey! Tom Amandes! It’s been, like, three seasons!) was heartbreaking. I thought they nailed it. Peter Krause was, as ever, phenomenal and the scene where Adam and Kristina try to look for the good in Hank’s life in order to find a silver lining in Max’s future was equal parts sweet and hilarious.
Finally, in the “Good” camp, we have the improbably great Drew and Amy plot line. It’s always hard for a family show to incorporate a character who’s gone away to college. (See: Braverman, Haddie.) Do you ignore the college experience altogether? Can you build out a whole new full world for them to inhabit? We have the new characters of Drew’s roommate and the shiny-haired girl down the hall. We have Drew occasionally going to his sister or his uncles for advice on how to negotiate his new world. But, more importantly, we’ve brought back the familiar character of Amy so Drew’s new life feels connected to the old. That’s a Good Thing.
The Bad: I feel like the show does a frustratingly inconsistent job with Crosby’s character because they needed him to be obtuse and antagonistic in this episode, we get asshole Crosby. Other weeks we get deeply sensitive Crosby. I also resent the Backdoor Piloting of About A Boy. A backdoor pilot is when you introduce a new character or world in an existent show in order to spin that character or world off into their own series. That’s why we met David Walton briefly in the poker scene with the boys. (He’s the one who said something along the lines of “this is why I’ll never have kids, bah humbug.”) Parenthood creator Jason Katims is launching a TV adaptation of the Hugh Grant movie/Nick Hornby novel About A Boy starring Walton as the Hugh Grant character and Minnie Driver as the Toni Collette character. It’s sure to be delightful and packed to the roof with heart squishes, but I always resent the inorganic nature of backdoor piloting. It feels manipulative.
The Joel: The Joel and Julia plot continues to frustrate and wound me. The only bright side of this plot last night was the lovely scene between Lauren Graham and Erika Christensen. Otherwise? HATE. DESPISE.