I have devoted many a blog post to the all-too-short-lived series Parenthood on NBC.
You may have noticed.
But this weekend, an unrelated article in the Sunday New York Times has brought forth yet another question:
Why did the family name change from Buckman — in the 1989 origin film — to Braverman in the TV series?
I’ve done some research, and apparently I’m not the first to ask this question, but for decidedly different reasons.
Many viewers pointed out that “Braverman” is a surname of Jewish origin, but the Parenthood family is decidedly not so. Others surmised that “Buckman” sounded a bit too Midwestern — where the movie was located — and the name change was necessary to reflect the California setting.
Or was it a bit of an inside joke?
The Sunday New York Times article discussed the evolution of Doc Johnson Enterprises, the ‘first family of pleasure products.’ The family surname? Oh, it’s not Johnson; it’s Braverman. And it got me thinking…
Could one of television’s great family dramas have added this little Easter egg…just for giggles and grins?
Or maybe one of the creators is simply related to a Braverman, or it tested well…neither of which is as fun for me.
Your final episode sits in denial on my DVR, as if not erasing it will bring back the series next season.
You Bravermans were that perfectly imperfect clan — often close to imploding but always ending up even closer together.
I’ll miss the endless baseball games and backyard gatherings under the twinkly lights. Everyone singing or dancing for some reason or other. And giving sudiences the first indepth conversation about Asperger’s syndrome on network TV.
Over your six seasons, my obsession with characters morphed and changed with the storylines. But I will always love Julia and Joel, and be grateful for the addition of Hank, because Ray Romano is a wonderful dramatic actor (which I discovered in Men of a Certain Age) and I loved what he brought to Parenthood.
I’m rambling because I hate to say goodbye. Let’s just say, “See ya later…”
Erika Christensen, who currently portrays Julia on TV’s Parenthood, starred in one of the movies on the list, a 2003 drama about a high school shooting called Home Room.
I missed that one — actually, I haven’t seen any of the films listed, making the article title really hit home — but I did see Erika in a movie she made a year earlier:
(Did you see it? If not, watch Lifetime any weekend.)
In the film, Erika’s character Madison transfers to a new high school, has a one-night stand with the school’s star swimmer (Jesse Bradford, whose character already has a girlfriend…dude), and then turns into this bizarre stalker chick.
It is a B-movie classic.
I recognized Erika in the first episode of Parenthood and sometimes still expect her to be that Swimfan stalker. There was even an episode where she took to the pool to teach her young daughter Sydney how to swim.
If you are a devotee of Parenthood, this quandary makes both perfect sense…and is perfectly frustrating.
When Sarah (Lauren Graham) and Mark (Jason Ritter) initially began dating, I was thrilled. Is there a cuter couple in TV-land? I challenge you to find one. Their engagement was the only logical conclusion.
Get them to the altar, tie the knot, add a jaunty bow.
But then Ray Romano joined the cast as Hank — crusty, blustery, more-age-appropriate Hank. He and Sarah made sense, too. (Plus Mark suddenly turned into a woman…so really, what else could Sarah do?)
Now Mark has found his balls and is challenging Hank for Sarah’s hand — who will she pick? More importantly, who do you want her to choose?
When I first heard that this movie remake was coming to television — and that Ron Howard was attached — I was pretty excited. Visions of ‘Arrested Development’ started swirling in my brain.
Then you guys had a bad break when actress Maura Tierney became ill, and you were forced to re-cast and delay the series to mid-season. Now you are the ‘other family show;’ the brilliant “Modern Family” has already captured the imagination and allegiance of the American audience and the critics.
Admittedly, you have started in a hole. But now your writers are digging you an even deeper one.
With all the talent you have in place — Lauren Graham, Craig T. Nelson, Peter Krause, Monica Potter and Dax Shepherd — you are wasting them on tired storylines and family conflict we have seen time and time again. Sure, a diagnosis of Asperger’s is unique to network television, but your treatment of the issue isn’t.
Your actors are better than this. And if you loosen the reins a bit, I’ll bet your writers are, too.
I watched “The Lake House” again last night. A shameful thing to admit, I know…but the idea of two people separated by time, desperately trying to find a way to be together, appeals to me.
I’m also a sucker for Keanu Reeves films…and not because he’s a great actor.
Because he isn’t.
Watching Keanu’s awkward attempts at acting are often the highlight of the film for me. In “The Lake House,” for example, Keanu breaks down in tears as he reads his father’s autobiography following his death. You can actually see Keanu working to generate the necessary emotion and tears; it’s hilarious. And that’s unfortunate, since it really should be a touching moment.
Another one of my favorite ‘awful acting’ moments is Keanu’s entire time onscreen as Don John in Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing.” His delivery of Shakespeare is so stilted and — sorry, it really is the best word — awkward that I laughed after every line. Dark and brooding? Dense and bumbling is closer.
That’s not to say that he hasn’t had some good performances. His turn as a young doctor in love with older playwright Diane Keaton in “Something’s Gotta Give” is quiet and sincere. And his stoners in the “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” movies and “Parenthood” are spot on.
Perhaps simplicity is the key — whether in his character’s singular desire or low apparent IQ. But…let’s not tell Keanu.