Last night’s premiere of Parenthood did pretty well, though no one knows how much the numbers were inflated by NBC’s almost-endless promotion of it during the Olympics. The next few episodes will be the key; either the show will drop off to a reasonable level that will please the network (whose expectations can’t be particularly high, given that they’re desperate to fill the 10 o’clock slot) or if its drop-off will be similar to other NBC 10 o’clock shows from the pre-Leno era, like My Own Worst Enemy (which started with similar numbers).
The show itself is a good, well-cast mash-up of comedy and drama, likely to be described as Modern Family meets Brothers and Sisters. When the pilot was re-shot with Lauren Graham, aka the non-monstrous version of Jenna Elfman, replacing Maura Tierney, the show took on a lighter tone than showrunner Jason Katims originally planned. This has something to do with the presence of Graham but may also have something to do with the success of Modern Family on a rival network: a competing multi-family show obviously wants to help itself to some of the elements that have made that other show a hit.
Finally, since Ron Howard expressed himself dissatisfied with the 1990 TV version of Parenthood, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at it, since the episodes are available on YouTube. 1990 was one of the last big years for movie-to-TV adaptations, as the Star article notes (partly because the success of The Wonder Years had everybody looking for single-camera, laugh-track-free comedies, and movies are the obvious inspiration for that type of storytelling) and Parenthood was, at the very least, a better try than Ferris Bueller or Uncle Buck. It was done as a half-hour single-camera show, created by David Tyron “Ty” King, a former Newhart staff writer coming off a long stint writing about bittersweet family problems on Empty Nest.
The most famous things about the 1990 Parenthood are a) The presence of Leonardo DiCaprio in the role that Joaquin Phoenix played in the movie, and b) The presence of Joss Whedon as one of the staff writers. So here’s an episode written by Whedon, with a prominent DiCaprio role.
Trivia: Whedon invited his ex-boss Ty King to write a couple of Buffy The Vampire Slayer episodes for him in season 2 (“Some Assembly Required” and “Passions”).
Click “Continue” for the other two parts of the episode