A review of tonight's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I try to use mix CDs as legal tender...
Earlier this season, I complained that the series was biting off more than it could chew in trying to give featured storylines each week to all four adult siblings, and possibly also to one of the kids and/or grandparents. Of late, it seems the creative team has recognized the folly of that, and an episode like "Just Go Home" is a good illustration of why less is more when it comes to the number of stories.
With Joel and Julia virtually invisible, and with the remaining sibs, kids and grandparents all tied into the same three stories, there was more time for everything to breathe, and for the various moments to build in power.
I haven't been a fan of the Alex/Haddie story, but the resolution - in which Haddie just comes home and Adam and Kristina try very hard to be cool about everything - was simple and very well-played by all three actors.
But the real powerhouse stories this week involved Sarah and her kids, and Crosby and Jasmine having one hell of a fight.
On the former, Sarah's ex Seth gets recast in the form of John Corbett(*) and stirs up a lot of bad memories for Sarah and Amber, as well as hero worship from Drew, who was too young to remember the bad old days.(**) I know some people can't stand the show's overlapping dialogue, but I think it works incredibly well in scenes like the one where Amber and Drew are yelling at each other, and then Sarah and Drew are. Some great work from that whole section of the cast, and my only disappointment is that I'd rather see this as solely a parenting story for Sarah rather than half parenting, half romance. But you don't bring in John Corbett if there's not gonna be some wooing going on, right?
(*) Corbett replaces Darin Heames, who played Seth in the pilot, and who I don't remember being as ridiculously tall as Corbett. How are we expected to believe two humans the size of Corbett and Lauren Graham produced a child as wee as Mae Whitman?
(**) Though even with a different actor playing him, you would think Drew would remember his dad blowing him off in the pilot, right?
As for Crosby and Jasmine, it's felt to me like the writers have, intentionally or not, made her really insufferable and unfair to Crosby this season, and it was about time the two of them actually went at it about her controlling nature. And what made that scene work wasn't just the commentary on what we've all been seeing for months, but Jasmine being allowed to have a point about Crosby's lack of direction, and then that really ugly moment when Crosby asks, "Were you just gonna drop those three kids on my lap like you did Jabbar?" On the former, our sympathies are naturally going to lie with Crosby because he's the more prominent character and Dax Shepard is so likable, but even though he's thrown himself into this parenting thing like a champ, he's still taking advantage of a huge safety net and still has to be dragged into accepting certain realities like the apartment/houseboat issue. Jasmine's less sympathetic, but she's not wrong about everything. On the other hand, that 10-megaton line in the middle of the fight makes clear that there is always going to be a deep crack in this relationship's foundation over what Jasmine chose to do for the first few years of Jabbar's life. And however much these two like each other, and however much they both love Jabbar, I'm not sure they can build a life together with that in their past.
Good episode, and I'm glad that the teen drama seems to be shifting from Haddie and back to Amber (and Drew) for at least the next little while. Whitman's been very underused this season - which, again, is the blessing and curse of having such a large, talented ensemble.
What did everybody else think?
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