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VOL. 39 | NO. 9 | Friday, February 27, 2015

‘Parenthood’ wraps up in unconventional style

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If there’s one adjective that does not fit “Parenthood,” NBC’s six-season series that shuttered its doors in January, it’s symmetrical. Great show! I hate to see it go. But it was out of balance. Always. And delightfully so.

Start with the episodes-per-season stat. It makes no sense.

At the outset, a March-through-May season gives us 13 shows. Then, a Sept.-Apr. season has 22; Sept.-Feb., 18; Sept.-Jan., 15, the last of which seems to conclude the series.

Watching via a combination of Netflix and on-demand by then, I’m hooked. And sad that it seems to be over.

Then comes the fifth season, 22 episodes strong, though shifting its night from Tuesday to Thursday. (’sup with that?) We’re pre-recording now, tuning in 15 minutes after each episode starts, zapping ads.

The final season kicks off in late September and, with only 13 shows, ends in the depths of winter? No way!

This show departs the airwaves with balls in the air, arcs pending. Moreover, it’s the cleverest, most creative and most compassionate drama aired in recent memory. It’s not television, it’s family.

Who cares if it didn’t get an Emmy? Shame on the Emmys! Especially for not nominating Monica Potter, whose character, Kristina Braverman, struggles in Season 4 with cancer while parenting an infant and an autistic tween.

Meanwhile, husband Adam (Peter Krause), is starting a music-studio business (which he knows nothing about) with brother Crosby (Dax Shepard) after losing an executive position when his company is sold. No symmetry here.

Crosby’s a 30-something white guy who discovers he has a child from a one-night stand with a beautiful, brilliant black woman five years earlier. Not the most stable of campers, Crosby mans up, in inimitable fashion, and somehow he, Jasmine (Joy Bryant) and child make things work? Watch for yourself! But don’t expect symmetry.

Julia Braverman-Graham (Erika Christenson) is a lawyer, and husband Joel (Sam Jaeger) is a contractor and stay-at-home dad. Joel can build anything, and he’d like to go into the workplace. The myriad changes that beset this offshoot of the Braverman clan include adoption of a Hispanic child and a whirlwind of difficulties as the role-reversed couple reverse roles.

Anything but symmetrical.

Then there’s wild child Sarah (Lauren Graham), who returns to the home of parents Zeek and Camille Braverman (Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia) with two teenagers in tow! Zeek and Camille must start their golden years in a household of five. Including a 16-year-old granddaughter who seems bound to repeat her mom’s mistakes and a sullen 14-year-old grandson in need of a role model.

The finale, “May God Bless and Keep You Always,” is a grand and glorious episode. A tear-jerker featuring marriage, death, birth, flash-forwards and more. Taking a final bow, program developer Jasim Katims (“Friday Night Lights”) leaves us with images of Team Braverman playing softball as, in the background, Sam Beam and Rhiannon Giddens yank tears from our very hearts with a cover of the theme song, Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.”

Watch it. Then join me in watching the entire series again. Starting in about six months. I get chills thinking about it.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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