HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Parenthood: The Complete Series
HTS Overall Score:84
“Parenthood” is one of those TV series that I started watching years ago and sometime between the furlough between seasons 3 and 4 I stopped watching. Not because I didn’t like the show, far from it, but sometimes between seasons you forget to start watching again, and by the time you realize you missed a season it’s hard to binge watch the previous season AND get caught up with the latest season. Before I know it, Universal is releasing the 6th and final season along with this giant complete series boxset for the show. The series is based upon the failed 1989 movie of the same name starring Steve Martin and Rick Moranis. A slapstick comedy directed by the series co-creator, Ron Howard, “Parenthood” was goofy take on the trials and tribulations of one of the longest running jobs a couple can have. Decades later, creators Ron Howard and Jason Katims come back off of “Friday Night Lights” with another stab at the source material. This time they dial back the slapstick a good bit and blend the dramatic nature of “Friday Night Lights” into the mix. The result is a very solid TV dramedy that pulls at the heart strings and makes you smile along the way.
“Parenthood” is comprised of a veteran cast of TV stars, from Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls), Dax Shepard, Craig T. Nelson (everyone remembers “Coach” right?), Peter Krause (Six Feet Under), as well as a whole slew of well-known actors, including regulars and guest stars. The show deals with just about every family issue that could happen over the course of six seasons. Adam (Krause) is the head of the household, and he’s having problems with his son Max (Max Burkholder), who is diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Crosby is a bit of the carefree rake, but settles down with his girlfriend and starts a life. Add into the mix the older generation in the form of Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) and you have a mix that is sure to create conflict, as well as have a lot of fun. In many ways it reminds me of “7th Heaven” in that we have a giant mix of family all rolled into one dramedy. Other ways, it deviates quite a lot. Especially considering the era that the show is created in vs. the 90s.
A post nuclear family, the Braverman’s deal with life in all its many splendored glory… and of course the heart ache and pain of living in this world as well. The series is mildly serialized, and it carries with it certain themes and consequences over the six season, some of which play heavily into the final airing. From just describing the show and re-reading my own words it sounds like a weepy, dramatic little kumbya type of show, but the reality is that it’s far from it. The ensemble cast keeps it fresh and invigorating throughout it’s nearly 2/3 of a decade run. Dax Shepard has really improved his dramatic chops and Lauren Graham has always been great at keeping your attention, ever since her “Gilmore Girls” days. Craig T. Nelson is both serious and hysterical as the old patriarch, with more than a few winks and nods back to “Coach” if you know where to look.
The series started to fade in terms of viewership around the 5th season and that required some budget cutbacks. Main characters weren’t onscreen as often as they could have been, and long absences by midlevel characters was quite common. Another drawback had to deal with the amount of guest stars that stayed a bit longer than they could have. They started relying on Jason Ritter’ and Ray Romano’s characters a bit too much in the overarching stories which left a mildly bad taste in my mouth. Still, NBC decided to let the Braverman’s go out with style, instead of just cancelling the series. Season 6 is a truncated season, but it allows the show runners to end the series with a complete arch and a good deal of dignity. Something which not ever show gets to do.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=45218[/img]It’s sad that NBC has never released this series on Blu-ray being that it is one of the many shows filmed with HD cameras and broadcast in HD as well, but only getting a DVD release. Still, the DVDs look very solid, and look a good bit better than the SD broadcast quality that I remember seeing. Colors are solid and detail is strong throughout. It’s not a big budget show, and many of the locations are on set, so there isn’t a wild amount of scenery changes to look at. Black levels remain impressive and I only noticed mild macroblocking on the 1.78:1 encoded DVD-9s.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=45226[/img]The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is serviceable for the job at hand, but really its only fault is that the show’s genre doesn’t lend itself to wildly dynamic audio experiences. The front heavy track deals nicely with all of the vocals and doesn’t really deviate from those front three channels. There is some mild shifting and directional queues once in a while and some ambient sounds giving the 2 rear channels a bit of responsibility, and even some mild LFE usage. I detected no signs of any audio issues related to the compression or capturing style and have to say it sounds quite nice for a little drama.
• Audio Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• "Get to Know Your Parents" Featurette
• Audio Commentaries on three episodes
• Deleted Scenes
• From Page to Screen Featurette
• Audio Commentaries
• Deleted Scenes
• Farewell, a "Parenthood" retrospective
After binging the last 3 season to catch up, I have to say that I have gained a new appreciate for the show. After watching it week by week on TV you get a sort of laid back vibe from the drama, but when watching episodes in short succession, much of the intended impact is more powerful and even a bit more engaging. I’m glad to see such a great priced complete series set in conjunction with the piecemeal season sets as new buyers can get in on the series for a rock bottom price. My only real complaint with the set is that Universal seemed to have given up on extras after season 3, as the last 3 are completely barebones, except for the little featurette on Season 6. However, I can’t complain too much, as the show itself is entertaining and that’s what we’re really here to see. Definitely check it out.
Starring: Dax Shepard, Peter Krause, Lauren Graham
Created by: Jason Katims, Ron Howard
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 4443 Minutes
DVD Release Date: May 12th 2015
Buy Parenthood: The Complete Series On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Check it out
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