Big big show coming up for rebooting NBC tonight. It's called "Parenthood" and is based on that old flick starring Steve Martin.


  'Nuf said. My review, below...

"Parenthood," WNBC/4, 10.

 Reason to watch:
Ron Howard and Brian Grazer produced - though mostly under the creative direction of highly regarded "Friday Night Lights" bosses, Jason Katims and David Nevins.

 What it's about: Loosely based on Howard's 1980 movie, Adam (Peter Krause) and Kristina (Monica Potter) Braverman of Berkeley, Ca., are parents to teen daughter Haddie (Sarah Ramos) and young son Max (Max Burkholder, "Brothers & Sisters")  Max has anger issues. Doesn't talk much and insists on wearing a pirate costume to school. Naturally Adam and Kristina are worried, and an initial diagnosis suggests Asberger's Syndrome (high-functioning autism.) But life's about to get more complicated. Max's sister Sarah (Lauren Graham) moves in with Adam and Kris. She is 38 and has spent the last decade of her life tending bar and the needs of her druggy musician-wannabe ex in Fresno. She's come back home for a fresh start, and brings brings her two resentful teen children in tow. The rest of the Braverman clan contributes parenting advice, of dubious value. There's Julia (Erika Christensen), a career mom, and Crosby (Dax Shepard), an aging hippy with arrested development issues of his own. Meanwhile, Braverman patriarch Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) and Camille (Bonnie Bedilia) are happy to be helpful too.

 My say:
"Parenthood" could have been scuttled and very nearly was when Maura Tierney - who was to be Sarah - pulled out for breast cancer treatment. Watching the first two episodes, it's easy to see why she was considered so vital. Perhaps depending on which Tierney turned up at this party (Lisa Miller or "NewsRadio" or Abby Lockhart of "ER), she could have been a caustic, damaged, smoldering presence - a dark counterweight to the New Age California Bravermans, with their warms hearts and bland personas. But Lauren Graham - an equally fine actress - just doesn't do "smoldering" or "irony." She's bright and airy and almost sitcomish here - a West Coast version of Lorelai. She is devoid of mystery, and hence much inherent interest either.

  Bottom line: You'll think (and can't help it) "Gilmore Girls" meets "Brothers and Sisters" meets "Modern Family." But do three good shows add up to one particularly good or memorable one? At this point, no, but there's real promise in "Parenthood." In time, we may all genuinely care whether Crosby and Sarah find themselves, or at least grow up.

 Grade: B

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