TV spin-off’s of popular movies are usually more miss than hit (remember ”Uncle Buck”? ”Fast Times”? ”Police Academy : The Series”? ”Blade : The Series”? ”Starman”? Nah? didn’t think so) , so what a surprise it is to discover one that’s unequivocally, positively and welcomingly right on target.
But to be fair, ”Parenthood” isn’t strictly a TV spin-off of the twenty-year old Steve Martin comedy. For one, there’s already been a spin-off of the film – in the early 90’s, with a then-unknown Leonardo Di Caprio among the cast – but more so, Jason Katims’ (”Friday Night Lights”) has essentially taken the concept, and nothing more from the film, as the basis of his series. The film, with it’s chuckles and ‘crazy’ Steve Martin antics, and the series with it’s hit-ya-between-the-heart dramatics, are chalk and cheese.
”Parenthood” – executive produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer; though the credit’s probably contractual since they were behind the 1989 film – features a very impressive, very dissimilar bunch of talented actors, including Lauren Graham, Craig T.Nelson, Peter Krause, Dax Shepard, Bonnie Bedelia, and Erika Christensen as members of an extended family who, as you’d expect, bicker, depend and band together when the times get tough – or when there’s Barbecue.
Much like Katims’ ”Friday Night Lights”’, ‘Parenthood” is a character drama set around a sport- in this case, the sport of keeping up with the kids. Be it a troubled teenager with a habit of wandering off, coming to terms with your daughter now dating boys, one with a learning disability, or – they all come with their own set of problems and nope, there’s no manual for any of them. But the show also fixes on problems that come with say, being a stay-at-home father, a couple that are going through a rough patch, and a single mother looking for security. Just a very real, rich and addictive 42-minutes of programming every week.
Select episode commentary by the informative Katims; a featurette; and deleted and extended scenes (not a big fan of deleted scenes; just a chore to sit through).