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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Parenthood is "Missing" nothing

     NBC's Parenthood ends their fall run with "Missing," Adam (Peter Krause) and Kristina (Monica Potter) both have to work on Saturday, so they cancel a planned trip to the museum for Max (Max Burkholder). The boy is left in Haddie's (Sarah Ramos) care, and sneaks away anyway, sending Haddie and Adam into a panic. They search frantically, and are unable to reach Kristina, because she has her phone on silent since she is mad at Adam. Max is found safe and sound, with Haddie being the only most upset by the whole ordeal. On a positive note, it does help Kristina realize what is really important, and she makes up with Adam.

     As frustrating as it is when Rachel (Alexandra Daddario, White Collar) kisses Adam, everything that comes after it on Parenthood is realistic and well written. It's not Adam's fault that the incident happens, mostly, but Kristina's anger is understandable. It's also totally believable that they would get caught up in their own stuff and forget just how bad Max takes changes of plans. The phone conversations between Kristina and Rachel in "Missing" are weird, but necessary to resolve things between them. And while Parenthood does choose to have Max go "Missing," a big, dramatic move that most shows would do to improve ratings, it is handled with care and an authentic level of emotional reaction, rather than going over the top. All in all, this story shakes out very well, allowing fine acting moments for Krause, Potter, and Ramos.

     Kudos also must go to Parenthood for the handling of Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Jasmine (Joy Bryant). It is not uncommon for exes, especially those sharing a child, to fall back into bed together. Should "Missing" go into sitcom territory, a comedy of errors would ensue, ending with the parents getting back together. Or in a place where neither is happy, but they are on the path to reconnecting. Instead, Crosby realizes just how good a guy Dr. Joe (DB Woodside) is, and steps away, letting Jasmine go. As much as fans want to see Crosby and Jasmine together, it might be wiser for Parenthood to instead make a permanent bond between Jasmine and Joe. They are both good people, despite Jasmine's slip, Woodside is a great actor, and it would be the unexpected thing to do. Surely, viewers cannot hate Dr. Joe, after seeing how he cares for Jabbar (Tyree Brown). Why not go for it?

     Julia (Erika Christensen) faces a tough situation when her potential adopted baby's daddy wants money, something illegal and wrong that she will not cave into. But then, in "Missing," Julia has a difficult time shutting out the mommy-to-be, Zoe (Rosa Salazar). This is because Julia is a kind, caring individual, and she has bonded with Zoe. Zoe, meanwhile, has few people she can go to, and it caught in the middle between her boyfriend and Julia. After a fight with her man, she goes to Julia for comfort, and Julia reluctantly gives it. Julia can't help herself. Whether Zoe is able to give Julia the baby or not, a possibility still very much up in the air, there is something between these two that will not be easily thrown out. Until Zoe gets back on firmer ground, Julia will be there for her.

     Sarah (Lauren Graham) has no such drama with her own baby situation. Babysitting Nora for Kristina and Adam, she is pleased to see Mark (Jason Ritter) take so sqweetly to the infant. Later, relaxing together, Mark blurts out that he could see himself having a baby with her. Again, in other dramas, this would be a break up moment for the couple, with Sarah arguing she is too old to raise another child, since hers are grown. Instead,  Parenthood recognizes that there is some serious, deep love between the two, and lets Sarah not be weirded out. It would be interesting for the two to concieve a child, and suddenly, that seems like a possibility. Either way is fine, but hopefully Parenthood will not let Mark go anywhere, because there needs to be more for this couple.

     Amber (Mae Whitman) is definitely the connection point for many young viewers, a juicy, desirable demographic. She is working as hard as she can, but still finds it difficult to make ends meet. So she has to try to find a better paying job, because minimum wage doesn't cut it to keep a cheap, old car and a crummy apartment. Something is certainly wrong with this picture, but it's the same something felt by young adults all over America. And it doesn't feel preachy or forced to include this arc in "Missing" and other Parenthood episodes.

     Try as one might, it is very, very difficult to find anything wrong with "Missing." It is a supremely wonderful episode, and a great example of when Parenthood gets it right, which is often. The series doesn't get too dramatic, and doesn't make things happen just for drama's sake in "Missing." Sure, they have in the past, as every show does. But the mistakes in Parenthood are fewer and further than between than most. And none are currently in sight.

     Parenthood will return in January to NBC.

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     Click here to purchase streaming episodes and DVDs of Parenthood.

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