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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

To Watch Or Not to Watch: NBC's "Parenthood"

With a sudden revival of family-centric shows like "Modern Family" and "The Middle," it might be the right time and place for NBC's "Parenthood" to make its debut. But the question remains: should you watch?

More than two decades after Ron Howard's film premiered (followed by a not-so-successful attempt to remake it for television starring Ed Begley, Jr. and Leonardo DiCaprio), Howard, co-producer Brian Grazer and "Friday Night Lights" producer Jason Katims take a second shot at turning the movie into a dramedy about modern parenting.

Better late than never, right?

Even so, the show has already faced its share of challenges with Maura Tierney dropping out of the main role after being diagnosed with cancer, pushing the fall premiere back as producers searched for an adequate replacement.

As luck would have it, though, that meant producers could tap Lauren Graham, aka the-world's-greatest-TV-mom, to fill Tierney's big shoes (as a side note, can I just say I'm soooo glad they didn't go the Helen Hunt route, no offense to Ms. Hunt). Now, though, comes the biggest challenge of all -- to convince a fickle television audience already bogged with choices that a one-hour dramedy about parenting and family is worth watching.

Reviews in general have been good with LA Times critic Mary McNamara calling the show nuanced and Alan Sepinwall calling it "smart and warm and knowing" even if it's not an instant classic. With this in mind -- and given a talented cast that includes Graham, Peter Krause ("Six Feet Under"), Craig T. Nelson, Monica Potter and Erika Christensen -- I think it's worth giving this show a shot.

I've been surprised this year by shows I didn't really expect to like. Shows like "The Good Wife" and "The Middle" seemed like they weren't necessarily reinventing the wheel (and let's be honest, they didn't), but good acting and interesting stories more than made up for the lack of originality in the premise. I am hoping "Parenthood" falls into that category of unexpected must-see TV.

"Parenthood" premieres tonight on NBC at 9 p.m. CST.

Are you planning to watch? Let us know with a comment below.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,

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