Thursday, November 14, 2013

REVIEW: 'Parenthood's Sydney & Victor Will Absolutely Break Your Hearts in 'The Ring'

NBC's Parenthood - 5.08 The Ring

The family watches out for Zeek but he ends up giving Sarah some much needed advice; Julia receives some unsettling news from Victor's school; the media uncovers some skeletons in Kristina's closet that attract unwanted attention on Adam; and Amber makes a tough decision that rocks the boat with Ryan.

The best word I could use to describe the Kristina running for Mayor of Berkeley story would have to be awkward. It's a mechanical story to give Kristina and Adam something to do without being ambitious. Election day is happening in the next episode and yet I don't feel like anything has really happened in this story. The only noteworthy moment it had produced so far was the debate where Kristina gave that one really good answer.

And the show really wants us to believe that Kristina is within spitting distance of winning. Of course, they want to do that because Kristina is a main character on the show. And Bob Little is such a jerk of a guy this season. But they haven't done a good job convincing us how she's won over so much support. And that does have to do with screentime. It's a story that is happening over nine weeks - actually only seven, because two episodes this fall didn't mention it at all. It's also been limited to Adam and Kristina. I'm not saying I wanted more of this story. But I do think it could have played better if it felt important and heading somewhere. I ultimately don't care if Kristina wins or loses and that is the major failure of this story.

And as soon as Bob Little returned this season, you knew the show would bring back his past with Amber. That wasn't a story I particularly enjoyed but I didn't see a way that the show couldn't dig it back up. The fact that it occurred so late in the story just feels off and disingenuous. I hate how in every story about a character running for office, there's a plot beat about whether or not the person will go negative in their attacks on their competitors. It's a very tired concept at this point. But it's something I understand why several shows always go to it. And I appreciate Kristina staying true to who she is even though it will cost her the race and Amber's determination to take down Bob Little.

Elsewhere, the show's other big story has proven to be much more successful. The issues in Julia and Joel's marriage initially felt very contrived with Sonya Walger and David Denman being planted there as objects to make them stray. Then it took a turn for the better when the bigger catalyst for their disagreement was Victor possibly being held back a year at school. Well now, everyone's worries are coming true. The school has decided it would be in Victor's best interest to be held back. And that brings out the best in Julia, Sydney and Victor.

Every time Julia and Joel argue I wonder where Sydney and Victor are and if they can hear them all the time. And Sydney in this episode all but confirms that they do indeed. She overhears their discussion about Victor and understandably freaks out. It's interesting how the show purposefully keeps Victor out of the loop about this decision that will effect his future until the very end. Even Sydney who is younger learns the truth before him. But she also has this maturity that makes it feel honest. When the show finally does tell Victor, his reaction is so emotional. It's probably the strongest moment in this story so far.

But when Sydney brings up all the fighting to Julia, your heart just breaks. If Julia and Joel do split, I don't wanna see it told through the perspective of finding comfort in outside people. I wanna see how it effects this family unit from the kids to the two parents to even Julia's large family. 

Some more thoughts:
  • I'm really enjoying the little Crosby stories we've been getting each week. They are simple and sweet. They give him, Jasmine and Jabbar something to do without it feeling like it's striving to be a part of a much larger story.
  • Sarah and Zeek interacting was fun but I feel like we've seen this particular story from Sarah too much before.
  • And Zeek is just doing whatever he wants without Camille there. It's entertaining but also sad seeing him trying to care of himself or saying "I love you" to Camille on video chat only for her to cut it off to catch the bus.
  • Adam and Kristina mentioned Haddie! Because a stupid picture of them yelling at a soccer game forced them to.