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'Parenthood' nostalgia recap: Team Braverman suits up

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Pilot” | Aired Mar 2, 2010

It’s been one week since that unforgettable, emotional finale, Parenthood fans. Anyone else suffering from an acute case of Braverman withdrawal? It’s okay, I have your antidote. In my ongoing refusal to accept a life devoid of Bravermans, I’ve decided to not only go back to the beginning and watch again, but to share it all with you. Starting today, I’ll be recapping season 1 and reliving all the moments we might have forgotten, as well as those we’ll never forget.

It seems weird to imagine Sarah not living in Berkeley amidst the rest of the family, doesn’t it? But when episode 1 begins, we find out she’s been in Fresno and is moving back to the family home with Amber and Drew in an attempt to give them a better life. (Oh! The adored family home! How I’ve missed you!) Little problem, though. She’s lost Amber. When she finds her at her boyfriend’s grungy apartment, we’re introduced to a much different Amber than we said goodbye to last week. She’s the poster child for the belligerent bad girl, and it becomes immediately obvious that she’s all about rocking the boat. Specifically, Sarah’s.

Likewise, Drew is almost unrecognizable, and not just because he barely looks like he’s escaped puberty. There’s no trace of the confident, responsible young man we know he’ll become. The only way I can be sure it’s him is by his general lack of communication and expression. Unlike Amber, who comes to Zeek and Millie’s house kicking and screaming, Drew is—as we’ll see time and time again through the years—the silent brooder.

Adam is immediately introduced as the reliable Braverman; Sarah calls him to tell him about Amber, Zeek calls to have him fix a pipe, and Kristina calls to tell him that little Max refuses to get in his uniform for his baseball game. Five minutes into season 1 and it suddenly becomes clear why Adam couldn’t figure out what he wanted to do for himself for six years; he’s always had to do for everyone else. He gives Max the first of many “Adam Braverman patient parental persuasion speeches” and somehow convinces him to play in the game.

Meanwhile, Crosby, looking adorably tousled and somehow much more than six years younger, is in the middle of some serious relationship drama. His current girlfriend wants to have a baby like yesterday, but Crosby definitely does not. They strike an agreement to wait three years, but after getting a call from a hot dancer named Jasmine that he had a fling with five years ago, he finds out he’s a dad now, to a cute little five-year-old named Jabbar. (“She’s apparently a basketball fan,” Crosby tells Adam.)

Zeek and Millie are ecstatic to have Sarah, Amber, and Drew home, and at the first of many outdoor dinners, a couple of vital Braverman facts that will come back into play in later episodes are established: 1.) Sarah is Zeek’s favorite (Zeek’s toast to “my shining angel, Sarah, welcome home” foreshadows his emotional finale speech to her), and 2.) Sydney is a brat (which will come back into play in virtually every single episode throughout the series).

Speaking of, Joel and Julia’s parental roles are made clear right away. “I’m a good lawyer, he’s a good father,” Julia says, and admits that Sydney openly prefers Joel. Lucky him.

Besides being a good lawyer, Julia wants to be a good matchmaker, and puts Sarah back in touch with her old high school boyfriend, Jim Kazinsky (Mike O’Malley). “The Unabomber?” Kristina asks. (Oh, remember when Kristina didn’t annoy us a little bit?) After a rough start to the date, Kazinsky sweetly gives Sarah back her ring she’d thrown at him in high school, which is all it takes to turn her wounded heart to mush, and they end up getting busy on the couch in the Braverman family guest house.

Jim: Is your dad around?
Sarah: It’s okay. We’re 38.

When Drew catches them raiding the refrigerator in various stages of undress, he makes the (typically silent) decision to run back to Fresno to live with his deadbeat dad, Seth (not played by John Corbett in this episode). Sarah drives to get him when Seth calls to tell her “it’s not a good time for me to be a father” (we’ll hear that one again), and Drew breaks down. “For what it’s worth, you have me. I’m not going anywhere,” Sarah tells her hurting son, in one of the very first tissue-worthy moments of the series.

Drew isn’t the only Braverman grandchild who’s having problems. There’s something wrong with Max, and Adam and Kristina are called to the school to hear that their little boy may need special help. Right away, it’s heartbreaking, and right away it’s established that while Kristina is slowly accepting it, Adam is not. Zeek isn’t helping matters any. He’s hard on Max, pushing him to excel in baseball and even at a pickup basketball game at the family dinner, where he inadvertently gives his grandson a bloody nose.

Kristina: You elbowed him in the face?
Zeek: He was in my zone!

After Kristina tearfully begs Adam to take Max’s emerging problem seriously (“Please don’t make me be alone in this,” she cries), he stops and really takes a look at Max’s behavior. Realizing that his son does, indeed, have a problem, he pleads with Zeek to help. “There’s something wrong with my son,” he says, breaking into tears. “And I’m going to need you to help me.” This must be when Kleenex stock prices started to climb.

Interestingly, episode 1 ends in much the same way the series finale ended, with the entire clan at a baseball game (Max’s, who finally decided to play), and with an acoustic version of “Forever Young” setting the tone. Coincidence? I think not. It’s Team Braverman at its finest, and we’re just getting started.

Other observations:

  • Sarah sounds very Lorelai Gilmore-ish when the episode begins. Same cadence to her speech; same intonations. I think Lauren Graham had a bit of character confusion for a brief moment, not that I’m complaining. #GilmoreGirlsForever
  • Everyone looks like babies, and I’m not just talking about the kids. Six years aged them more than I’d have thought. (Except for Millie, whose face “somehow” seems to defy age. WINK.)
  • Haddie was annoying even in episode 1, but it was nice to see her recognized as a member of the family, and amusing to see bad cousin Amber get the good cousin hauled off to the pokey for weed (which wasn’t Amber’s, she swears).

See you back here next Friday for more Braverman memories!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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