SHAK­ING THE FAM­ILY TREE

Par­ent­hood in­vites you to spend time with a fam­ily as like­able and in­fu­ri­at­ing as your own. Guy Davis catches up with the Braver­mans, the ex­tended fam­ily on the new se­ries.

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - FEATURE -

There are times when we turn on the tele­vi­sion in search of a lit­tle es­capism. For an hour or so, you can put your own life on hold and fol­low in the foot­steps of cops in­ves­ti­gat­ing a crime, doc­tors heal­ing an ail­ing pa­tient or, if you’re a Dex­ter fan, a se­rial killer bump­ing off his prey.

Per­son­ally speak­ing, I like to slip into the shoes of Mad Men’s Don Draper ev­ery once in a while. But that’s my prob­lem, not yours.

Then there are times when we turn on the tele­vi­sion with a lit­tle recog­ni­tion in mind. And be­cause not of all of us are ide­al­is­tic lawyers or

Par­ent­hood re­volves around the four Braver­man sib­lings, all of whom are wrestling with life’s var­i­ous dilem­mas … with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess.

emer­gency-room medi­cos, the fam­ily drama tends to be the log­i­cal des­ti­na­tion.

Af­ter all, pretty much all of us have par­ents, chil­dren or sib­lings that can give our lives mean­ing or drive us to dis­trac­tion. ( Or, let’s face it, both.)

As such, the fam­ily dy­namic – es­pe­cially one that’s kind of dys­func­tional – can pro­vide rich ma­te­rial for a TV se­ries. You just need to look at the con­tin­ued suc­cess of pop­u­lar view­ing such as Seven’s Packed to the Rafters or Broth­ers & Sis­ters for an ex­am­ple.

Now Seven has picked up an­other US se­ries in a sim­i­lar vein: Par­ent­hood, an adap­ta­tion of Ron Howard’s 1989 movie.

It’s ac­tu­ally not the first time the film, which fol­lowed the ups and downs of a multi-gen­er­a­tional, mid­dle-class Amer­i­can fam­ily, has made the move from the big screen to the small. A TV ver­sion was launched a year af­ter the re­lease of the movie but de­spite the pres­ence of a young Leonardo DiCaprio it only lasted a hand­ful of episodes be­fore be­ing can­celled.

Now, with Howard’s pro­duc­tion com­pany back­ing him up, writer-pro­ducer Ja­son Ka­tims ( the ter­rific Fri­day Night Lights) has given the en­sem­ble com­edy-drama an­other shot. And the re­sult is a solid, in­volv­ing se­ries with strong per­for­mances from a cast of fine ac­tors.

Ba­si­cally it re­volves around the four Braver­man sib­lings, all of whom are wrestling with life’s var­i­ous dilem­mas … with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess.

El­dest son Adam ( Six Feet Un­der’s Peter Krause) is re­garded as the fam­ily’s rock, and he’s gen­er­ally a sta­ble and ca­pa­ble guy, but he’s also eas­ily frus­trated and a di­ag­no­sis of Asperger’s syn­drome for his young son Max throws both he and his wife Kristina ( Mon­ica Pot­ter) for a loop.

Sarah ( Lau­ren Gra­ham from Gilmore Girls) is a sin­gle mother of two who’s strug­gling to make ends meet, so she’s forced to move back to the fam­ily home with fa­ther Zeek ( Craig T. Nel­son) and mother Camille ( Bon­nie Bedelia).

Ju­lia ( Erika Chris­tensen), a high-pow­ered lawyer, seem­ingly has it much more to­gether than her big sis­ter. But her drive to suc­ceed in her ca­reer is start­ing to cause a rift be­tween her and her young daugh­ter, who feels more at­tached to her stay-ath­ome dad Joel ( Sam Jaeger).

Youngest sib­ling Crosby ( Dax Shep­ard) is the only one with­out kids, mainly be­cause he has a se­vere pho­bia when it comes to com­mit­ment. But he may have to over­come that sooner than he thinks.

As with many such fam­ily-cen­tred shows, Par­ent­hood works be­cause it of­fers a bit of some­thing from ev­ery­one. Can’t re­late to the tightly wound Ju­lia? Wait a lit­tle while and the scene shifts to the easy­go­ing Crosby.

But given the over­all cal­i­bre of the per­for­mances ( Gra­ham is a stand­out, for one) and the writ­ing, it may not be long be­fore you feel like spend­ing time with ev­ery mem­ber of the Braver­man clan.

Rar­ing to go: The cast of new se­ries Par­ent­hood.

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