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Parenthood, “I Hear You, I See You” (2.01)

Parenthood season 2 started yesterday and the first episode was… bland, to say the least. I’m not sure what’s changed over the summer, or whether my expectations for the season opener were too high, but last night’s episode seemed to lack a certain spark.

The episode, “I Hear You, I See You”, in reference to Zeke’s (Craig T. Nelson) mantra from his marriage counselling sessions, sees the whole family in various levels of crises, and Adam (Paul Krause) as the only sane one they all turn to for help; a common thread in the series.

Kristina (Monica Potter) is teaching Haddie (Sarah Ramos) to drive, a Braverman recipe for disaster. Haddie almost crashes the car due to her mom’s micromanaging and her, as she calls it, castastrophizing that her daughter will end up in a fiery car wreck (because as she tells Adam, “Our daughter sucks at driving”. That line was actually pretty funny). The driver’s ed storyline is okay, but not great as Haddie and her mom get into fights and, yes, eventually make up. Sorry to give that away, but I’m sure you saw it coming. I know I did.

Sarah (Lauren Graham) comes up with an idea, which she casually mentions to Adam, about shoes clickers: a sort of tracking device for retrieving lost shoes. Adam steals the idea and pitches it to his boss (William Baldwin, who was compeltely MIA last season, but oddly dominates a fair amount of this episode). Aha! So Adam’s not so holy after all. Sarah and Adam have words, but eventually Adam offers her a job – another recipe for disaster which will be dealt with in the weeks to come.

Things that worked in this episode were the hint that Crosbie and Gaby (Max’s autism tutor) might hook up down the road, while Crosbie’s long distance flame and baby mama, Jasmine is in NY and unable (or unwilling?) to get away. Meanwhile, Joel’s blow up at Zeke for treating him like shit is quite amusing, and Joel and Erika’s awkward attempts at explaining sex to their six year old, Sydney (Savannah Paige Rae), was also fun to watch.

Things that didn’t work in this episode were the lack of actual marriage counselling sessions for Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) and Zeke. They were only alluded to through Zeke’s uttering of his famous mantra and Camille’s icy stares, whereas seeing them in counselling would have been interesting, especially since Zeke hates being told what to do. As well, since there was so much going on this episode alone, and the show has oh, so many characters, Sarah’s kids Amber (Mae Whitman) and Drew (Miles Heizer) feature for  five seconds at the beginning and then never reappear. As a Mae Whitman fan I was a little hurt in the lack of Amber in this episode and am hoping they come up with something really juicy for her this season, as the Haddie/Amber cat fights last season were priceless.

All in all this season has started with a whimper, so I’m hoping next week’s episode picks things up – Braverman style.

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