Tuesday, January 1, 2013

'Parenthood' Review - 4.12 Keep on Rowing

        On the newest episode of NBC's Parenthood, Jasmine and Crosby help a family member who is experiencing money problems; Kristina surprises Adam with a new look and a spontaneous night on the town; Sarah and Hank experience an interesting evening together; and Victor is disappointed after Julia gives him news about his mother.

         From the beginning, I found this series to be a revelation for network television and it has only gotten stronger with each season. The fourth season has grown powerfully strong both stylistically and creatively. The "Kristina has breast cancer" and the "Amber and Ryan romance" have been the strong dramatic anchors for this season. Those two stories have impacted every single element of storytelling this season and have reached out and touched every major character in some way. With four episodes left for the season - the series will conclude this month to make way in February for Smash - it should be very interesting to see how the series will wrap up such a strong season.
        This show is severely and frequently very pro-Braverman. A Braverman-by-blood is almost always shown to be in the right and their side of the argument is the side that the audience is suppose to sympathize towards. Sure, characters like Kristina and Joel have been a part of the clan for awhile now but it almost turns out to be that if a Braverman says its so, then it must be so. For the instance, the powerful moment of Kristina shaving her head and her emotional reaction to how people now see her is almost undercut by how insensitive Adam was by buying her a wig. She had the right to be angry with him for getting her that wig and yet later she is the one who has to do a grand apology. Sure, her gesture was very sweet - as was letting Amber in on the whole thing. But I feel the show could have found a different, more plausible way for these two characters to start at point A and the head shaving and travel to the powerful end point of them walking through the hotel lobby sans wig.
        Another stance of pro-Braverman was the entirety of the conflict in this episode between Crosby and Jasmine. They continue to feel like an old-married couple dealing with smaller issues than the rest of the cast. They can have frequent arguments and yet I never see any kind of possibility of the two of them splitting. Jasmine's mother is the only family member of a spouse of a Braverman that has ever been seen on the program. The Braverman clan always want to make things all about them all the time and yet it is fascinating to see the roles be revised and Crosby have to be the good man for his mother-in-law.
        It's been an up-and-down year in terms of critic applaud and criticism for the Victor adoption storyline. For the most part, I have found the story to be pretty consistant in my respect for it. My biggest issue as a whole from the first eleven episodes was the fact that they pretty much just completely ignored his past life before coming into Julia and Joel's home. That all turned around this week when Victor wanted to show his newfound success in school to his real mother and Julia shot that option down real quickly. The scene where Julia and Joel tried explaining to him why he can't see her was so real and honest. The sequence where he broke the window was a powerful and shocking moment that came out of the simple plot device that was Sydney asking and/or pestering him about his real mother. The followup of him completely shutting Julia out as well as her reluctance to fully adopted him set up the story greatly for these last few weeks.
        Ever since Ray Romano joined the show in the fourth season premiere as Hank, it has been so inevitable that he would be the reason why Mark and Sarah would break up. It took awhile but that finally happened - in fantastic fashion - in some of the last episodes last year. But with all of that out of the way, the show quickly needed to decide what capacity they wanted to use Romano as. The show didn't have to make him the next in line of Sarah's romantic partners but that is, in fact, the road they are going down. The beginning of their actual blossoming romance was the plot with the least screen time in this hour and while yes Romano and Lauren Graham have great chemistry, I wasn't all too thrilled about the show doing this with their characters.

So what did everyone think of the episode? Who freaked out for a brief second over the thought that Marleeze might reappear? How stunningly beautiful is Kristina bald? Sad to see many of the supporting players missing-in-action? Share your overall thoughts in the comments.