The original 1982 Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper, opens with an apt image: an extreme close-up of a television set. Not only does the object prove pivotal to the film’s narrative, but the close proximity of the camera to the screen imbues the television with a strange, almost alien quality. Though it simply plays the national anthem over patriotic imagery, the signature sign-off for most TV stations in the 1980s, the close-up distorts the pictures and renders them wholly indeterminable. For a film that explores the dark unknowns that lie beneath the seemingly innocent and ordinary, Poltergeist certainly knows how to prime its audience for what’s to come.
Parenthood begins its final season by picking up almost exactly where season five left off. “Vegas” may take place months after “The Pontiac” but for the most part, everyone is in the same place. Amber is indeed pregnant, with Ryan still out of the picture, Kristina is launching her school, and Zeek and Camille are happy in their new home. The only surprise Katims and co. throw the audience is Julia’s new office fling, which may become something more. It’s a surprising move given where the last season ended, but a not unwelcome one.
Parenthood has had an uneven season. After starting the year out promisingly, odd and unexamined character choices started to take over the show, leaving the audience to connect the dots to understand the extreme reactions (or lack of reactions) demonstrated by several characters. Joel, swamped at work (except when he isn’t), reacts poorly to Julia’s indiscretion and leaves. Hank’s back, but he’s not with Sarah, and no one knows why. Kristina runs for mayor, because remission? , and Adam, inspired by her, convinces Crosby to start their own label. Several of these storylines overstayed their welcome, stretched too thinly over the 22-episode season, but fortunately the finale draws more heavily from the narratively energetic start of the season than the slog that was much of its second half.
Over four seasons, one show that initially flew under the radar but has been steadily gaining critical and commercial acclaim is the NBC show Parenthood. With the 1989 Ron Howard film namesake serving as a loose inspiration, the story of the numerous members of the Braverman family has quietly become one of the more critically …