Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Parenthood-"Taking the Leap"

Gilliam talks to Sarah about her play on "Parenthood"
Credit: NBC

My review of last night's Parenthood is after the jump.

It's really good to have this show back. I was beginning to miss my weekly fix of the Bravermans and had very high expectations for the return of the show. What we got this week was an episode a lot like an episode from earlier in the season, it was calm but it still was very good. It planted seeds for what should be a very good future for the show (and a sure-to-be-explosive season finale) while giving us very good stories. It's one of the few episodes of this show this season that has had many plotlines that mostly worked. It was a great way to launch the final four episodes of the season, with an episode that showed a style that works well for the show.

I don't know exactly what to think about the Joel and Julia plotline. On one hand, it started as an average Joel and Julia plotline. They've largely been used as comic relief this season and in the beginning of the episode this wasn't an exception. They made many jokes about Joel's "swimmers" and had a somewhat uncomfortable phone sex scene. The beginning of this plotline was really the only part of the episode that didn't quite work for me. Quite frankly, I was ready to see these characters be used for something more then stupid, comedic relief. I'm glad that changed later in the episode. The payoff, with Julia revealing that it would be difficult for her to have a baby was fantastic. That scene was a brilliant way to make the previous scenes worth it. Erika Christensen and Sam Jaegar nailed that final scene, giving very good performances. I saw the emotion behind their reactions to be very realistic. Those last two minutes of the episode were fantastic because of this.

The episode also featured Oscar award winner Richard Dreyfuss as a theater producer who Zeke brings in to take a look at Sarah's new play. This part of the episode seemed to be more of a setup for things to come in the future of the show. I like the idea of Sarah finally finding her passion in writing a play and having her finally see something good coming from her career. I liked the scenes between Dreyfuss and Lauren Graham, particularly the one where he shoots down one of her favorite moments in the play. It was interesting to see Sarah realize that she would have to take criticism, but not taking the criticism. I'm looking forward to the future arguments between her and Gillium (*).

(*) This is a very interesting character. I'm looking forward to finding out more about the holes in his past. Dreyfuss is giving a very good performance in this role.

The Crosby and Jasmine arc continued, with them spending time with Jabbar while he presents his life to his class. We've seen the play nice for school plotline before on many shows but I haven't seen it fit in this well with the arc in awhile. They have to spend some time together, they do have a son after all, but it looks like they will not be getting back together. Even though I do think the show will head in that direction eventually, the episode ended the way it should. It ended with Jasmine saying to Crosby that she can't be with him after what he did. I think that this is far from over, but that was a great place to leave off for now.

The story that resonated with me the most was the Amber storyline. Everything was the best it could be for her, she had just gotten a job and she was waiting on collage. Then, she gets called by Rebecca Creskoff saying that she didn't get into Berkley and she doesn't get into her safety school. This creates a downward spiral, that is played very well by Mae Whitman. The scene with Julia in her boss's car was great because of Whitman and Christensen's performances. Julia having to get angry to comfort Amber was fantastic. Another scene that played really well was the scene with her finding out that she didn't get into Berkley. Whitman trying to put on a brave face was brilliant and very well performed. 

The Adam and Kristina plotline was a very interesting one. The idea of mainstreaming Max was bound to come up sometime in the future, judging how well things are going in his school and I thought that thw show handled it very well.I liked how the integrated Gaby back into the plotline, with her working for the Lessings. Minka Kelly's two scenes with Monica Potters were fantastic and very well performed by both actresses. I liked how Gaby's words of advice were what made Kristina change her mind about mainstreaming him. This could give very good material to Max Burkholder over the next few episodes and into next season. This is a very interesting idea and I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

Overall, it was an episode of setup for the next few episodes. There are three more episodes of the season and this seemed like it was setting up for those episodes. I have high hopes that they will be as strong as what has come before them.

What do you guys think?

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