Season Premiere: Parenthood Season 2

Parenthood was one of my surprise favorite new shows last season. I shouldn’t have been too surprised because I liked cast members Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls), Peter Krause (Sports Night, Dirty Sexy Money), Dax Shepard (hey, he was good on Punk’d), Craig T. Nelson (Coach), Mae Whitman (Arrested Development) and Erika Christensen (she had a great turn on That 70s Show as a girl who had a crush on Red instead of Eric). I also really like the movie the show is based on (and much of the first episode and ongoing story is based on). And, of course, there’s the fact that Brian Grazer and Ron Howard had a hand in creating the show and as many of you know, they helped create the greatest American comedy series, Arrested Development. What surprised me isn’t so much that I liked the product, but what kind of show it is. Thanks to AD, I expected something a little whackier but I found myself really getting absorbed in the complicated dynamics of the Braverman family.

So, the second season just premiered, earlier than most other shows on NBC (Tuesday’s at 10PM). The major plot points included the terrible-at-being-a-handyman patriarch of the family Zeek (Nelson) working with Julia’s husband Joel who was a contractor before the economy tanked. After watching while Zeek practically destroys the garage that Sarah (Graham) and her two kids (one of whom is Whitman, are you getting all this?) live in, Joel finally blows up on him, telling him to back off and treat him like a man. That’s not all the problems facing Joel and Julia though as their daughter’s questions about where babies come from lead to Julia wanting to have another kid. More on that in the next episode.

While Sarah’s roof is getting fixed, she deals with the fact that she gave Adam (Krause) an idea for a tracker that locates missing shoes. She’s understandably pissed because Adam’s boss loves the idea he swiped from her. In the end, Adam feels bad and arranges for her to have an internship at his company. I’m not sure how a company that seems to be struggling has the money to bring on an intern, but whatever.

All the while Crosby (Shepard) misses his girlfriend/mother-of his-child Jasmine, who is supposed to be bringing Jabbar for a visit which will include a sleepover between Jabbar and Adam’s autistic son Max. Jasmine has to cancel the visit because of an audition (she’s a dancer), but only after a hilarious scene where Jasmine tries to have Skype sex with Crosby and the tech gets in the way. Crosby then has to break the news to Max, who doesn’t take it so well. Oh, Adam’s wife Kristina is also trying to teach their daughter Haddie how to drive, but Kristina’s being a little crazy and overbearing. I love my mom, but we had the same problem when I was learning to drive. In fact, my dad had to pull her aside and tell her she needed to relax in the car with me or I’d never relax myself. There’s a scene where Haddie goes to Adam’s office and explains what her mom is doing and I was laughing HARD because it all felt very familiar.

So there you have a fairly detailed recap of what went on in the episode. There’s no way I even remembered all the characters’ names, but IMDb helped me out big time. I like the show because of its family-like feel. My family back home isn’t quite this interrelated (at least not my section), but my wife’s is a little bit moreso, so I know that families can be like this. I also like the chaotic nature of things, which really do capture family gatherings. There’s a scene in the beginning of the show where Crosby comes over to a very busy kitchen in Adam’s house with his entire family running around, getting ready for the day and talking over each other. It’s fun to watch the show for the main plot points, but I would imagine it’s also fun to watch a few times on DVD with an ear towards the background lines. I caught one today that I can’t remember, but it made me chuckle with Haddie doing a crossword puzzle.

I dig this show a lot and probably won’t write about it every week, but I wanted to let you guys know it started early and what happened in case you missed it yourself. There’s a¬† pretty crowded TV season about to hit us. The missus checked several sites and made up a TV schedule that looks pretty solid. I’m excited for some new shows like Hawaii Five-O and also returning faves like Big Bang Theory (though it’s move to Thursday is problematic).

Little Movies, Big Casts: Spring Breakdown (2009) & The Air I Breathe (2007)

The combination of Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch sold me on watching Spring Breakdows as I’m not much of Parker Posey fan. It seems fairly obvious from watching the movie, though, that Posey wasn’t the first choice to play Beck St. Germaine as she basically plays a Tina Fey character. I would like to think that if Fey was in this movie it would be a lot better, but then again I was pretty disappointed and I find Poehler and Dratch to be great comediennes. The story follows three friends as they head to spring break to keep Posey’s boss’s daughter out of trouble, but as it turns out, the daughter is just a big nerd. There’s a current of lameness that seems to run under this movie at all times that seeps into the performances, dampening all of them except for Seth Meyers’ which is solid throughout his few scenes as Dratch’s gay fiance. But even his performance can’t elevate this very been-there-done-that movie. And again, this cast is crazy stacked with talent. Aside from the three leads, you’ve got Amber Tamblyn, Mae Whitman (Anne from Arrested Development), Sarah Hagan (Buffy, Freaks & Geeks), Jane Lynch, Will Arnett and even a brief cameo by Jack McBrayer (Kenneth from 30 Rock). And it still falls flat. Laguna Beach fans might want to take note that Kristen Cavaleri’s in the movie, but I’m guessing the director wasn’t too pleased with her performance as I, a recovering¬† LB fan, didn’t even notice her until about 3/4 of the way through the movie where she finally says something. There’s even a sexy talent show dance where she barely appears because, I’m guessing, she can’t dance.

Anyway, avoid this one. It’s played way too goofy and not in an ironic way, though it is nice to see Poehler playing a smarter character than Leslie Knope. I guess there’s a reason that some movies go straight to video.

While still not a great movie, The Air I Breathe was much better than Spring Breakdown, though comparing a goofy and boring spring break movie with a drama about emotions and people and how those people and emotions are connected probably isn’t an even one to make. Before getting into the plot, which I probably don’t completely understand, I want to give you a cast list. Ahem. Kevin Bacon, Brendan Fraser, Andy Garcia, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Emile Hirsch (completely didn’t recognize him, but knew he looked familiar), Forest Whitaker, Kelly Hu and John Cho are all in this movie. Okay, so here’s the deal as far as I can tell. Brendan Fraser can see the future. He works as muscle for Garcia’s mobster. Fraser kind of convinces Whitaker to try and rob a bank which goes wrong. Fraser then has to show Hirsch, playing Garcia’s visiting nephew, how not to get killed while being a mobster. Fraser sees Hirsch getting killed in a vision but somehow prevents it. Then, in exchange for not killing a guy, Garcia gets SMG’s pop star managing contract and puts Fraser in charge of her safety. They fall in love. It gets weird from there and a little circular, but I don’t think the way the movie ends makes sense compared to what you just saw a little while before. Basically, I’m not sure what happened to Fraser because I was working while watching.

Did anyone else watch this movie? I’m kind of surprised it didn’t make it to theaters with such an impressive cast and it’s not a bad movie by any means, but just more confusing that it should be. Fraser also plays his roll a bit too over dramatically for my taste, but everyone else seemed on point.