The latest episode of "Parenthood" has a perfectly appropriate title, "Left Field." It was a light-hearted excursion of buying a puppy, teenaged angst, "Funky Town," and fudge brownies, then suddenly, a heartbreaking, life-altering conclusion.
Much of the episode involved Adam and Kristina talking about adding a dog to the family, which was the only thing that successfully got Mr. Moody, Max, to actually crack a smile! While perusing potential pups on the Internet, Adam playfully comments that the one Kristina chose looks "just like Haddie."
When the Braverman clan goes pooch hunting, they meet with two very creepy women, which Adam described as the "doggie Gestapo." Papa B. hesitates and wants to wait, but when they find out the beautiful Golden Retriever they had their eyes on was sold, Max goes into ballistic fits of rage. That spirited child needs a discipline reality check, pronto.
Another breezy storyline involved Crosby's irritation with Adam's beeping calendar phone app. When he notices an appointment for "Funky Town," Crosby teases his brother about the scheduled sex romp with the wifey and strums the chords for the song on his guitar -- a total cute moment.
Brownies for the boss
Hank and Sarah continue their mild flirtations, which includes Hank pretending not to care when Ms. B. shares her family drama, or while he gives advice to a devastated Drew, who got dumped by his girlfriend.
Sarah tells Hank to back off the fatherly advice, thanks him, then hands over a plate of homemade brownies, which he calls "mediocre…almost," but judging by the gleam in his eye, he is falling for the fudge treats and the pretty lady who made them. Even when Hank is lecturing Sarah about the way she handled Drew's romantic split, "I think you are being an idiot. Fawning all over him…women are conniving soul crushers," there are sparks.
Hank's character, played well by comedy vet Ray Romano, is a grouch who acts a bit older than his years, but there is a tender side, especially with Sarah. The chemistry between Romano and Graham is strong, and both actors have razor-sharp timing and vulnerability. Besides, how can you not like Hank, who said that when he was young, he was "prom king, listened to the Grateful Dead instead of disco, and sold pot out of cars!"
As with life, "Parenthood" suddenly takes a shocking turn. In the final minutes, Kristina is at the doctor's office getting a mammogram. The scene played out in silence with only emotional acoustic music in the background.
Kristina is examined, talks to the doctor, then afterward, there is a shot of her getting out of the car to meet Adam and Max with an overly smiling face to barely conceal the pain. The camera pans wide to show her husband walking slowly to meet her. With more silence, Adam and Kristina embrace, and the look in their eyes says it all.
The acting was flawless, and the director's choice to not let viewers hear the conversations was beautiful and powerful.
"Parenthood" continues to show why it remains one of the strongest, best written shows on television.