SEASON PREMIERE "Parenthood"
WHEN | WHERE Tonight at 10 on NBC/4
REASON TO WATCH Ray Romano joins the already awesome ensemble as Sarah's new "very weird, grumpy guy" boss.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT The sprawling Braverman family starts its fourth season of life-in-progress. Luckily, it's not hard to jump into the gist of the goings-on. Still living at home with the (grand)folks, oldest sister Sarah (Lauren Graham) needs a job and falls into one assisting the moany, groany, no-eye-contact photographer (Ray Romano) hired to take her family's portrait. Which isn't slated to include her fiance, Mark (Jason Ritter).
Older brother and family rock Adam (Peter Krause) is sending overachieving daughter Haddie off to Cornell, while autism-spectrum son Max (Max Burkholder) is pitching fits. He's also shunning just-adopted cousin Victor (Xolo Mariduena), who's acting out himself, opening a tactical schism between lawyer younger sister Julia (Erika Christensen) and stay-at-home hubby Joel (Sam Jaeger). And younger brother Crosby (Dax Shepard) faces the big spirituality question, when Grandma starts son Jabbar (Tyree Brown) on a path of prayer.
MY SAY Ah, yes, the Braverman family, one very big, very convoluted clan almost impossible to describe in one sentence, or paragraph, or review. Kinda like your family.
It's less the Plot Events that ring true here than the well-played little side moments and background squabbles, the simmering resentments and recriminations, the emotional tugs-of-war. Even the babies behave naturally.
While it's true the characters of "Parenthood" can be a bit overtly articulate, they're never less than recognizable. Next week's episode even nails the ache of getting dumped in high school, by hardly trying. Romano can relate, or at least his character can. While evoking many of the same insecurities he did in "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Men of a Certain Age," he's now playing different notes on the scale, some of them quite deft. Our local comic has turned into quite the ace actor.
BOTTOM LINE Join the family.