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First impressions — “Parenthood”

Parenthood

Pros: All-around good cast. Strong pilot script from Jason Katims, very un-showy direction of pilot by Thomas Schlamme fits the material.

Cons: A little speechy here and there

I liked this one a lot. Katims has the very tough task of living up to his “Friday Night Lights” standard. “Parenthood” didn’t quite hit me with the same thunderbolt as “FNL,” but it’s oozing with potential by the end of the pilot

I liked the distinctiveness of the setting (Berkeley/Bay Area), and the foundation of the sprawling Braverman family of four adult siblings dealing with their own children of various ages and emotional states. There was great detail and specificity that gave the characters immediate depth and, well, character right away.

There’s a lot of plot and character development going on in the script, perhaps a hair too much at times. But in the main it delivers a lot of info without getting terribly bogged down in exposition. Some of roughest patches seemed to be out of the mouths of the teenage characters, which is a little surprising since “FNL” has excelled at portraying high schoolers in a credible way. But this is a minor quibble.

Among a uniformly good cast, Maura Tierney stands out in the pilot as Sarah Braverman, the daughter who instigates much of the basic plot by moving back with her parents in Berkeley after hitting hard times with her teenage kids in Fresno.

Craig T. Nelson is very good as patriarch Zeek. Bonnie Bedelia doesn’t have a whole lot to do in the pilot as matriarch Camille, but there’s clearly more coming for her. Dax Shepard makes a good impression as bohemian brother Crosby. Of the younger thesps, Mae Whitman impresses in the pilot as Sarah’s feisty, growing-up-in-a-hurry daughter, Amber.

Can’t help but wonder how an family ensembler without a built-in marketing hook will fare on NBC. Let’s hope viewers are drawn in by the familiarity of the 1989 movie (though there are few similarities, as I recall) and then suitably dazzled by the solid thesp roster.

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