Season premiere review: ‘Parenthood’ – ‘It Has To Be Now’

Senior Television Writer
09.26.13 35 Comments

A review of tonight’s “Parenthood” season premiere coming up just as soon as you’re in my radius…

Coming off its best season ever, “Parenthood” begins season 5 not trying to find a way to top the Kristina cancer arc (which is still a part of her character DNA, and helps drive a decision she makes here), but simply mapping out new directions that they various Braverman sibs and their loved ones can travel over the course of the show’s first 22-episode season in a few years.

Some of these work exceptionally well, like Amber’s concern about Ryan’s time back in Afghanistan, and then to his marriage proposal (scored to Josh Radin’s “My My Love”) at the ceremony for the returning troops. Give Mae Whitman a reason to cry – whether from sorrow or joy – and it becomes infectious, always and always and always.

Some were effective but not necessarily pleasant to sit through, like Jasmine and Crosby’s sleep deprivation ordeal after the birth of their daughter Aida. On the one hand, I found their despair and frustration – particularly for newborn first-timer Crosby – dead-on. On the other hand, Crosby and Jasmine bicker pretty much non-stop even under the best of circumstances; accurate or not, I don’t need their contempt for each other dialed up to 11 like this.

And still other new paths were mixed. Kristina running for mayor of Berkeley is among the more ridiculous ideas the show has had, yet Monica Potter very nearly sold it with Kristina’s reaction to her chemo buddy Gwen’s speech a few scenes earlier. You understand why she would want to do something this insane in the wake of her brush with death, but I hope this won’t just be the grown-up version of Max winning a class election due to one great speech. I also appreciated that Julia’s abrupt departure from the law firm (which was preceded by that huge screw-up) is coming back to bite her now that she’s trying to return to the workforce, but I fear no good can come from Joel spending lots of time with Sonya Walger.

Sarah easing into her new role as both a building super and an empty nester played just fine, particularly her separate conversations with Amber and Drew, and I was glad that Hank’s return was built entirely around his bond with Max rather than an immediate reunion with Sarah. We know that’s coming, because the only direction the writers have ever consistently been able to keep Sarah on is one of constant romantic turmoil, but I find Ray Romano more interesting as a part of the show’s larger world than I do as Sarah’s love interest.

On a show with a big cast like this, the premieres have to do a lot of expository heavy lifting, but any hour that can give us the Amber/Ryan moment is fine by me. And we’ll see how these arcs play out over the course of the season.

What did everybody else think?

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