Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: Parenthood (1-10 of 30)

'Parenthood' season finale review: The saga of the Bravermans, all tied up?

Parenthood has been so good this season, I hope you’ll forgive me if I express some disappointment with its season — and what sometimes looked like its series — finale. For a show that at its best likes to keep things unkempt and frowsy, this hour was a mite too neatly tied up with a pretty bow.

To be sure, this hour also contained many great pleasures.  READ FULL STORY

Ken Tucker's Top 20 TV shows of 2012: Here are the second ten, from 'Parenthood' to 'Bent'

Here, as I do every year, I follow up my TV Top 10, which you can find here and in the new, print issue of EW,  with my picks for numbers 11 through 20. Some of you have said these are consolation prizes, but that’s not so. There’s so much good television, that for a few years, I was stuffing my Top 10 with entries that allowed for multiple shows (“Best Thursday-night sitcoms,” for instance, allowed me to sneak three shows into one number – those were the days, eh?) until that started to become unwieldy and ridiculous. (Besides, as a part-time music critic, I like the “Top 20” phrase, with its roots in pop-music radio.)

11. Parenthood (NBC) Monica Potter’s Christina cheating death; Ray Romano trying to get Lauren Graham to cheat on Jason Ritter – great stuff. Julia and Joel adopting Victor – not so great. A show like Parenthood is always going to have trouble juggling its subplots and servicing its large cast, but this season it came damn close to broadcasting its best season ever.
12. Luck (HBO) It got better with each succeeding episode; Dustin Hoffman’s was just one of many finely shaded performances (along with a couple of gleefully over-the-top ones). It’s too bad this series got sidelined; the Michael Mann-David Milch production seemed headed for a victory lap if it had had a chance to run for a second season.
13. Fringe (Fox) The alternate-universe versions of my beloved characters never grabbed me the way the originals did, but this season made a good, strenuous effort to return to the fundamental dynamic that made this series so close to great: Its abiding notion that you take family where you can find it, and that that connection is humanity’s greatest source of love, fear, power, and vulnerability.
14. Sons of Anarchy (FX) Kurt Sutter’s take on Shakespeare is becoming more rigorous, more true to its source, yet also more exaggerated, with each season. This time around, he grounded the inherent absurdity of bikers-with-a-conscience (well, a few of them) with imaginative touches such as a finely drawn character for guest star Jimmy Smits to play.
15. Archer (FX) Dirty, slapstick, suspenseful, complex – what started out as a cartoon of James Bond plus The Man from U.N.C.L.E. has become its own unique piece of animated art.
16. The Walking Dead (AMC) Killin’ zombies: The stripped-back new mandate for the series cut away virtually all of its ponderous, moralizing flab while leaving the heart of its reason to exist – to ask, what does it mean to be human? – intact, throbbing with life.
17. Southland (TNT) The police procedural as a series of morality plays, free of preachment as well as cynicism. Probably the action series most mindful of morality, and willing to dramatize examples of it.

18. Hunted (Cinemax) If creator Frank Spotnitz was going to make a spy series about a woman who could pass as both a nanny and a bad-ass, he certainly was a witty man to cast Melissa George, queen of the lippy pout, in the role. She dove right into this satisfyingly knotty series, executed the fight scenes well, and reminded us why they used to nickname this channel Skinemax. No mean feats at all. READ FULL STORY

'Parenthood' returns: Kristina's cancer, how it affects her and the Braverman clan

Back after too long, Parenthood resumed on Tuesday night with an episode that typified what inspires such an ardent following for this series. The hour was filled with small moments — nothing big, grandiose, or excessively dramatic — that nevertheless added up to a meticulously moving hour.

The inescapable center of the series is now Kristina’s cancer diagnosis and how she and her family are responding to it. The episode was titled “Together” with some irony, since the urge to help Monica Potter’s character, a crisis that can bring a family together, is also what left her frequently feeling isolated, misunderstood, and with a desire to be left alone. READ FULL STORY

'Parenthood': Is this TV's most neglected drama?

Parenthood has been so good lately, it’s made me all the more worried about it. By which I mean, the introduction of Ray Romano as a grumpy photographer with a crush on Lauren Graham’s Sarah, along with giving Monica Potter’s Kristina breast cancer, has raised the stakes both within the series and for its audience.

How long can a big-cast, ensemble drama on network TV survive without larger ratings than Parenthood is attracting? And especially at a time when there are more reasons than ever to become invested in it? READ FULL STORY

NBC's new fall season: Sitcoms and 'Parenthood'

The new TV season is in full swing on NBC, with sitcoms such as Go On and The New Normal having aired their second episodes, and the season premiere of one of my favorite dramas, Parenthood, aired earlier this week. READ FULL STORY

'Parenthood' premiere review: Tears, lizards, God, and Ray Romano

Parenthood, still clinging to life through the mere 15 more episodes NBC has granted it (because they just know Chicago Fire and a second season of Smash are really gonna revive the network, right?), returned for a new season on Tuesday night with a wonderful hour that demonstrated once again how engrossing this series can be, in no small part by dramatizing how irritating family members can be.

The episode, titled “Family Portrait,” introduced Ray Romano as a grumpy, frumpy photographer who hires Lauren Graham’s Sarah and made a few marvelously snide comments about her fiance, Jason Ritter’s Mark (“Is he a Make-A-Wish Kid?” Romano’s Hank asked of their relationship — oh, this photo-snapper knows how to snap!). READ FULL STORY

Introducing 2012 Emmy Watch: Nominations I wish we'd see

The Emmy nominations are being decided even as I write this. Members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences must hand in their ballots by June 28; the nominations will be announced on July 19. Why don’t we help out these folks and suggest worthy candidates?

That’s the thinking behind the long, carefully reasoned, highly passionate, sometimes stubbornly flukey list that follows. As EW’s TV critic, I tend to have some opinions not shared by the majority of official Emmy voters. I also suspect, however, that you, the EW.com reader, share some of my passions — such as Fringe, Girls,  and Community — that the Academy is unlikely to nominate. Which is one reason to agitate for them, right? READ FULL STORY

NBC's 'Parenthood' attacked by Bill O'Reilly: Teen sex and dropped underwear got Bill's knickers in a twist

On Thursday night’s O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly got all het up over a scene from the season finale of Parenthood. It was the moment in which Sarah Braverman’s teen son Drew had sex for the first time with his girlfriend Amy. O’Reilly convened a summit with his so-called Culture Warriors, Gretchen Carlson and Margaret Hoover, to bemoan what the segment called “The Coarsening of Our Culture.”  READ FULL STORY

Politics on Tuesday TV: Rick Santorum 'Breaking In' as Mitt Romney goes up 'The River'

While the broadcast networks were airing new episodes of The River and the return of Breaking In (hoo boy, even Megan Mullally came off badly in that Christian Slater-led stinker; poor her), the real fascination was in the tight Ohio primary fight between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, and President Obama’s press conference earlier in the day.

Both Fox News Channel and MSNBC said in various ways that the narrowness of the Ohio race was an important indication of problems for Romney going forward. Both channels pointed out the disparity in what the candidates had spent in the state — roughly $12 million by Romney; roughly $1 million for Santorum. Michael Moore, popping up on (where else?) MSNBC, asked what does it mean about Romney’s chances “if he can’t beat the guy who forgets to file the papers [in Virginia]?”  READ FULL STORY

'Parenthood' season finale review: A marriage, a proposal, an adoption, and a very expensive torn napkin...

Parenthood wrapped up its season with some moving moments, some hasty moments, some frustrating moments — in short, the show behaved the way families do, with a striking simulacrum of the pace and unexpected rhythms of parenthood. Plus “crazy bastard Billy,” Crosby’s best man imported from Friday Night Lights. READ FULL STORY

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