I have been grossly negligent on this blog in discussing my two favorite television shows right now, “Parenthood” and “Boardwalk Empire.” Both are still awesome and you should be viewing them regularly if you like great drama, terrific writing, and wonderful acting.
However, they’re going in opposite directions in terms of quality. Let’s start with the show that’s pissing me off and going downhill, at least a little bit.
“Parenthood” was so good during its first two seasons about not falling deeply into cliched storylines. Yes, Crosby the eternal bachelor sleeping with the nanny right after getting engaged to Jasmine was a little cliche, but the show handled it really well. Yes, Amber and Haddie fighting over the same boy could’ve been trite, but it was dealt with so beautifully (that scene from Season 1 of the girls at the gas station? So perfect).
But this year, even though a few storylines are still strong (I’ve grown to like the Julia adoption thing, and I’m loving shy boy Drew with his cute new girlfriend), “Parenthood” is torpedoing in the wrong direction. First it was terrible of Lauren Graham’s Sarah to invest so deeply again into her ex-husband’s alcohol issues, at the expense of her current boyfriend (played by John Ritter’s son Jason, who every woman I know thinks is really handsome). I just didn’t believe a man who had wronged her so much would engender Sarah’s support again.
But even that wasn’t as bad as this idiotic Adam/Kristina/hot new girl at work plot device going on now. First of all, it was ridiculous and totally unrealistic that unemployed Adam, with a third kid on the way, would buy in with his dummy brother to a fading recording studio. But I got over that.
But now this new secretary kissing Adam, and him basically flirting with her for a few weeks, and then Kristina (whose character I intensely dislike, and Monica Potter is no great thespian in my book, either) going all crazy on Adam last week, accusing him of liking this new girl Rachel, and them throwing up this ridiculous roadblock in the marriage, just reeks of desperation and stupid cliche writing. No way in the world Adam would cheat on Kristina, we know too much about him already that he wouldn’t do that, and for her not to trust him at this point just stretches credibility (even when we consider she just had a baby).
Still, it’s a show worth watching just for Craig T. Nelson as Zeke and the adorable moments it gives us each week, like 6-year-old Sydney throwing a temper tantrum after losing a game for the first time. I love this show, but it’s been significantly worse this year.
Now on to HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” As good as it was in Season 1, this year has been even better. The transition of power in Atlantic City, as young Jimmy and his friends like Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano overthrow Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson, has been fascinating. The stunner of this last episode I totally did not see coming, and each week I wonder which of a thousand ways they’re going to take the show.
Buscemi is brilliant, but it’s the supporting players (injured war hero Richard, angry Philly butcher/bootlegger Horvitz, and an in-his-prime gangster Arnold Rothstein) who make “Boardwalk” so entertaining and fascinating. If you’ve never seen this show and have HBO, you have no excuse. Go watch a few episodes; you’ll thank me.
**Finally, check out University of Detroit guard Ray McCallum, who came up with a new way to score on Nov. 23 in a game against Austin Peay. Can’t say I’ve ever seen this before; man, if he could perfect this, it’d be an unbeatable H-O-R-S-E shot.