Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Minions - They're like four-year-olds with a Super Bowl spot


You may have noticed that on more than one occasion I have used a Minion gif here on the blog. Let me tell you why that is – my son is obsessed with them, pure and simple.

Really. Obsessed.

Backstory: a few months before my son's third birthday, he and his mother attended the Halloween parade at his older sister's school. There, two of the staff members were dressed as Minions. He didn't know what they were; he didn't know that they were from a movie; and he had certainly never heard of "Despicable Me."

A trip to DisneyWorld the next January necessitated a day at Universal so that he could meet the Minions. Upon finding out he was too small for the ride, he stood at the exit for it, where the Minions came out every 15 minutes or so (when a ride ended) so that he could meet each and every one possible. And he did. He spent 90 minutes there seeing them all and in their various combinations. He was named an honorary Minion by the folks working there.

Now, more than a year after that experience, he remains absolutely floored by these characters. He has Minion sheets. He has Minions on his walls. He has Minion clothes. He has Minion dolls. He has "Minion Monopoly." He begs to borrow any iDevice so that he can play "Minion Rush" (kind of like a themed "Temple Run"). He has seen "Despicable Me" more times than I can count.

I tell you all of this because this weekend, during the Super Bowl, there will be a commercial for the movie, not that you have to wait that long to see the TV spot. As has become standard (although not always the norm) it has been made available in advance and I'm embedding it right below this paragraph. Naturally, my son has seen it. More than once.


I also tell you this because I have now seen Minions in their various forms more times than I can count and I have fallen in love with them too. They in fact remind me of my son and I think they're brilliant.

Minions are, essentially, four-year-olds. They have a lack of impulse control, think the dumbest things are hilarious, and their laughter & mood is utterly infectious (they will make you think the dumbest things are hilarious). Did you watch the above embed and see the whole pants thing? Yeah, it's like a four-year-old.

To this point, they have worked brilliantly as side characters in the "Despicable Me" series, and it will be interesting to see if they can succeed as the lead in their own movie. It reminds me of Jay & Silent Bob going from being ancillary characters in "Clerks," "Mallrats," "Chasing Amy," and "Dogma" to leads in "Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back."

But, that last bit is neither here nor there (although, now that I think of it, perhaps a piece comparing and contrasting the Minions and Jay & Silent Bob is a worthwhile notion). Watch the new Super Bowl spot above as well as the trailer for "Minions" below, and tell me if I'm wrong about how these weird yellow little creatures think and act.

"Minions" hits theaters this summer and you know that I'm going to be there… with my son.



photo credit: Universal Pictures

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"Top Gear" - Why I still love it but don't write of it often


It struck me last night (and every other time I've watched the past few years), that I haven't written about "Top Gear" lately. It is something that has perplexed me – the not writing about it, not the series itself (although I do have questions there).

Keep in mind that at one point I argued that the series was the best show on television. Sure, I'm an anglophile, but the combination of Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond is something wondrous, and when you combine that with great looking cars, stupid challenges, and general ridiculousness you have a recipe for brilliance.

So, if I still love "Top Gear," and I do, why haven't I had much to say on it?

I have come to the conclusion that my writing significantly more about it would, essentially, just be rehashing that which I've already written. The series hasn't changed all that much in the past few years, so what else is there to say?

In fact, the answer is just that – the series hasn't changed all that much in the past few years. Last night's challenge actually overtly echoed one of the greatest challenges the show has ever done, a race through a major city by multiple means of transportation to determine which is the best.

The first time out, something like seven years ago, the guys did this race in London and last night it was St. Petersburg. They even used the same basic types of transportation: mass transit, car, boat, and bicycle. It was still fun and funny last night, but it certainly had the sense that it had all been done before.

As I said above, it was an overt echo. They talked about the London race in describing why they wanted to do the St. Petersburg one. They weren't trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, they were just going back to what had worked before.

The truth is that I enjoyed watching the episode immensely and laughed multiple times during it. I don't for a single second believe that Clarkson had no idea how to drive the hovercraft, but watching him get it wrong was great.

I also liked Hammond driving the new Lamborghini in a different segment, and that piece, too, offered callbacks to old episodes. They actually inserted a montage of Hammond driving other Lamborghinis on earlier episodes. It worked. I remembered virtually all of those occurrences. Reliving them was great.

But, that's why I don't talk about "Top Gear" that much anymore. It is still there. I still watch. I still think they're not as dumb as they act. I still greatly anticipate the show and think it's one of the best hour to 90 minutes you can spend each week. I also think it's probably worth talking about more than I do, yet as the show itself is rehashing old stories, I would find myself rehashing old posts to write about it more.

So, there you have it. I highly recommend "Top Gear." I love it and hope that one day I will have the opportunity to sit down and talk cars, TV, and life with the three men. Writing about it weekly, however, I don't see happening in the near future.


Photo Credit: © BBC Worldwide 2014

Monday, January 26, 2015

"The Maze Runner" Finds a Successful Path


Having an interesting premise (whether it is original or adapted from another medium) is obviously an important thing for a television series or movie, but what is done with that interesting premise is more important. I think that's why some movies and television shows fail – they work so hard to come up with a good idea and then they work less hard at what happens next.

I was instantly intrigued by the trailers for "The Maze Runner" last year, it quickly set up an interesting premise in which there are these young men trapped in the center of a maze and looking for a way out. They don't know why this is happening, and only during the film does the first young woman arrive at the maze. Who has put these folks here? Why are they in the maze? Is there a way out?

Directed by Wes Ball and based on the novel by James Dashner, "The Maze Runner" is one of those movies which manages to have more than just an interesting premise – it carries it all the way through to the credits without disappointing. I won't suggest that the entire story isn't outlandish, but the movie 100% buys into it and when the truth comes out—amazingly—it works.

As much as I wanted to see the movie due to the premise, I was even more convinced that about halfway through it would become clear what was happening and that when the truth did out, it would be a ludicrous, unfulfilling, answer. It was a movie I wanted to see but which I was convinced would disappoint. Obviously, I won't tell you what's going on in the movie here, but I was pleasantly surprised when I accepted it and, what's more, when I wanted to see what happens next.

We are going to get that chance as "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" is due out this September. Presumably if that does well, we'll end up get "The Death Cure" after that and maybe they'll even do the prequel, "The Kill Order." Whether or not Dashner's books manage to stay intriguing, it will be interesting to see if the movies can pull off the feat.

It will also be interesting to see what sort of character growth exists as the movies progress. I think that the actors, led by Dylan O'Brien, Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario, Ki Hong Lee, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster, all offer good performances, but there isn't much in the way of character growth.

In fact, that part of the movie is relatively weak. The organization of the boys in the Glade (their term for the center of the maze), is all relatively standard stuff and there is no doubt from the moment Thomas (O'Brien) appears that he is going to shake things up and quickly find himself in a lead role. Actually, I think the movie would have been a lot more interesting if he simply serves as an advisor inside the maze—or at the very least reluctant to take on the mantle of leadership—rather than quickly being thrust to the fore.

Or, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the movie is better because Thomas quickly becomes one of the leaders of the group. There is absolutely no debate within the film about whether that's going to occur (not that all the boys like it), so you don't have to wait and wonder and watch and see how it plays out. You can just accept it and move on to the next thing, and the only next thing is how are they going to figure this whole predicament out.

"Maze Runner" certainly spends time on Thomas' rise to power, but it isn't very dynamic, although it does give Will Poulter, whose Gally stands on the opposite side of things, something to do, and I like Poulter. I think he was funny in "We're the Millers," and seems to really throw himself into his characters.

As I said, I think the whole cast is fun to watch here, with each character serving a different role. The issue is the larger fact that the roles are all relatively standard things.

But, even there, what I keep coming back to is the fact that the movie gets past all that because the maze and the truth behind the maze remains captivating throughout. The way in which answers about that are meted out, only helps push viewers through the movie.

Now, I look forward to seeing "The Scorch Trials" and what's next for our intrepid band. I have absolutely the same fears I had about "The Maze Runner" for the movie, but if they pulled it off once, why not again.


photo credit: 20th Century FOX

Friday, January 23, 2015

"Lass is More" Minisode 1: The Absurd Cost of Going to the Movies


As a part of the Lass is More podcast, from time to time we're going to put out a minisode.  Rather than being interview based as with the main episodes, these minisodes, generally clocking in at under 10 minutes, are going to feature my thoughts on the state of media, our consumption of it, and/or where the future might take us.

Below, you will find the first Lass is More minisode, and it's all about the absurd cost for two people to go to a mediocre dinner followed by a movie (or a movie followed by a mediocre dinner).  Rather than spoiling it for you though, take a listen, and don't forget to subscribe in iTunes.

If you have questions, comments, or a topic you'd like to see us cover, email Lass is More @ lassismorepodcast@gmail.com




Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"The November Man" - Rebonding with Pierce Brosnan


I will freely admit to a deep love of James Bond, his life, his work, and his movies (fine, yes, I understand that he's not real, but he's real to me). The point is this, when I watch a movie or television show that has some sort of Bond connection, I may be somewhat predisposed towards having an affinity for it.

I have to say, I am a big fan not just of Bond, but of Brosnan as Bond. He is my Bond. I watched Bond movies before Brosnan took on the role, and "Licence to Kill" was my first in theater Bond experience, but "GoldenEye" came along at just the right moment for me. Brosnan was suave, debonair, charming, and deadly. It was a high tech and low tech adventure; spun the opening credits in a slightly different way; and offered a modern, post-USSR, scenario. From the opening jump off the dam, I was hooked.*

*People like to suggest that the Daniel Craig era gave Bond a much needed reboot. I don't want to take anything away from the Craig films (he really is quite excellent in the role and the reboot has been great), but the Brosnan ones performed very well at the box office, and he shouldn't be given short shrift.

There is a moment in "GoldenEye" when Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) asks our hero (Pierce Brosnan's first outing), "If all those vodka martinis ever silence the screams of all the men you've killed... or if you find forgiveness in the arms of all those willing women for all the dead ones you failed to protect." In truth, 006 doesn't really ask it as much as he says it to point out to Bond some of 007's failings and coping mechanisms, but it's a great moment in the movie that sticks with you after it's over.

So, when I watch "The November Man" and see Pierce Brosnan's Peter Devereaux drink heavily after failing to protect someone, well, it is almost a perfect nod to 007. The actor has done more secret agent/assassin/hitman movies than just Bond ones, but every time he does any movie where he needs to pick up a gun and kill someone, the comparisons must be drawn, and the drinking in the movie only enhances that.

Brosnan is a brutal CIA killer in the film, one called out of retirement for one last job, a job he has to do because of a personal connection. It is something of a well-worn way to start the tale, but I think that the Bond baggage and nods help make it work. It isn't that Brosnan is playing a slightly older Bond here, but rather he's offering a take on the way Bond's life could have been if things had gone differently.

"November Man" works rather well despite its not being terribly new or different. Devereaux plays a cat-and-mouse game with a younger version of himself as David Mason (Luke Bracey), an operative Devereaux trained, is sent to get the ex-agent, and watching the two guys go back and forth is enjoyable even if everyone in the audience knows where things are going to end.

Olga Kurylenko, another Bond vet but not from Brosnan's era, is Alice, and the key to the mission in question. I don't always buy or enjoy some of the ways her character is portrayed, but I really do like the fact that when it comes down to it, she takes matters into her own hands rather than letting someone else fight her battles.

Brosnan is charming and charismatic on screen, even as a killer, and with few exceptions, as I said, a killer is what he is in "November Man." Actually, I find that exception thing rather odd and one of the more disappointing moments in Roger Donaldson's film.

We see Devereaux shoot people repeatedly, both the pulling of the trigger and the result, but towards the end of the film, a choice is made on one of the deaths—that of a US government agent—to have it occur off-screen. Is it because this agent has done nothing wrong and it would therefore hurt our opinion of Devereaux? That is my best guess – the movie is winding down, we're supposed to feel more for this guy, and seeing another shooting would hurt our opinions of him.

While, as I say, this is the best explanation I have, I don't think it works. If we didn't regularly see bullets hit bodies in the film, I would think differently, but as we see it happen on more than one occasion, it is actually disconcerting to not see it here (what that says about the movie, my view of the world, and the general ways in which people react to violence is for a different time).

It is a briskly paced film, and while it falls just short of the 110 minute marks, plays out much faster than that. As with "GoldenEye," it takes today's geopolitics into consideration. It promotes a worldview where there are many shades of grey and where friends quickly become enemies and vice versa.

This last bit is, again, nothing new.

Perhaps one of the reason I feel it all works as well as it does is the sense of comfort it offers with Brosnan as our (anti-)hero. Seeing him go out on a quest for vengeance and to right the wrongs of this world is something I would pay to see over and over again.

After all, Brosnan is my Bond.

"The November Man" is currently out on home video.

Photo credit: Fox Home Entertainment

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Good Media Manners - Movie Theater Etiquette Revisited


Forgive me if this is something of a retread, there are things in this world which upset me to no end. I can't imagine a better forum for discussing them when they relate to this blog's overall theme (media).

I am convinced that we do not treat one another with enough consideration. We are all very big into our rights, our privileges, what we want, what we think we need.

For some inexplicable reason, texting at the movie theater is one of these things. It is not.

"But," you begin, "my [insert relationship here] is having a tough day and I want to make sure to be there for them if they need me."

I can understand that. Go, be there for the person who needs you. Don't be at the movie. And certainly, when you keep responding to texts throughout the movie, don't discuss what's happening with the people you came with to the movie.

Your desire to be there for the person who needs you is admirable. But you're not really trying to be there for the person when you're still at the movie theater. What you're trying to do is have it all, and to do so at the expense of those around you.

You can't always have it all. If someone in the world at large needs you, go be there for that person. If the friend(s) with which you were going to the movie don't understand that, perhaps you need to reconsider the relationship(s).

What you certainly shouldn't do, and what the woman sitting next to me at the 6:55pm show of "American Sniper" at the Greenburgh Multiplex Cinemas did on Saturday January 17th, was explain to her companions, following the fifth or sixth text to which she responded, how the person on the other end of the conversation was being selfish.

Pot, meet the kettle. You should know that you are both the same color.

Here I come back to my main point once more (and I will keep hammering this home as many times and in as many posts as needed) – if the person on the other end of the conversation needs you, and you want to be there for them, be there for them, don't be at the movie with other people. If you feel like they're being selfish and wrong, stop responding to their texts and disturbing everyone around you.

I feel like the next bit is the hard part for folks to grasp in the self-centric world in which we live – your rights end where someone else's begin (this goes for just about everyone and in multiple scenarios). Your conversation is not more important than the hundreds of people around you watching the movie.

I won't suggest that the distress of the person on the other end of the conversation wasn't more important than the movie, because I don't know what was happening in their lives. What I do know is that if their issue was more important than the hundreds of folks at the theater trying to watch the movie, you shouldn't have been at the theater, you should have been with them or somewhere where you could have carried on a conversation.

And yes, this does all matter in the larger scheme of things. I think that's really what so many people fail to grasp.

Treating others with respect matters. It is important. Saying "please" and "thank you" aren't antiquated notions, and the cost of doing these sorts of things is small, it's just that many of us regularly don't think about them.

Good Media Manners is all about just that – picking our heads up from our devices, seeing the people around us, and wondering if maybe we're out of line. I know that from time to time I am.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The "Lass is More" podcast launches with the stars of "Helix"


UPDATE:  You can now subscribe to the show directly in iTunes by following this link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/lass-is-more-with-josh-lasser/id958811372

UPDATE 2:  Due to computer error, the entire original post for this has been lost.  It is a horribly embarrassing moment due, in no small part, to my successes today launching Lass is More.  Below you will find a reconstruction of my thoughts from the original post. (this will take a few minutes, check back soon)


RECONSTRUCTED POST (OR PERHAPS REVAMPED):  I have, over the past few years, interviewed more actors/actresses/writers/directors/producers than I can shake a stick at.  I have talked to people about movies and television and music and the stage.  I have conducted good interviews, and a few less good ones.  Good or bad, I've more than enjoyed doing it and passing along what I have learned.

Now, to keep these interviews going, I'm launching the Lass is More podcast.  You can listen to the episode embedded above, and you can follow the link in the first update to subscribe.

What will Lass is More cover, how will we go about doing it, and how do we describe ourselves?  Read on...
Focusing on the media, Lass is More sits down with the individuals who make the movies and shows that people are, or will be, talking about. The things we watch are not created in a vacuum, but rather as responses to far larger thoughts and issues. From why someone took a role to what it means to them to where they’re going next, we put the pieces of the puzzle together. The Lass is More podcast gets to the core of the issue, offering perspective on both the people involved in a project, and the project itself.

The first episode features two interviews, one with Billy Campbell and the other with Steven Weber & Kyra Zagorsky.  All three are part of the cast of Syfy's "Helix," a show which begins its second season tonight.

So, listen to the link above, subscribe, and remember:  in this day of media overload when we have more options than we know what to do with, Lass is More.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Chatting with Academy Award nominees

This morning, as you are undoubtedly aware, the Academy Award nominations were revealed. Over the course of 2014, I was lucky enough to speak to several of the folks who were nominated for awards today. I also spoke to others who worked on the movies that got nominated.

Below, you will find seven different embeds with interviews featuring newly minted Oscar nominees or other individuals who worked on those projects that received nominations.
















Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Michael Mann's "Blackhat" offers substandard fare in a hacker trojan horse


Hollywood hasn't always done a great job portraying the high tech computer world, but when someone like Michael Mann steps in, the results could be exceptionally interesting. It isn't that all of Mann's films have been unequivocal successes, but they are regularly absorbing, causing one to think about what they so long after the credits finish rolling.

Mann's latest, "Blackhat," certainly causes talk afterwards, but not really in a positive way. It certainly has some good ideas, but they are regularly tossed aside in favor of more traditional, brainless, action fare.

"Blackhat" stars Chris Hemsworth as Nicholas Hathaway, a blackhat (bad guy) hacker. Hathaway, at the outset of the film, is in prison due to this nefarious hacking. Whether or not Hathaway got Chris Hemsworth's physique in prison is questionable, but he has definitely been working out while behind bars. We know this because, for some reason, it is apparently important to watch him do push-ups partially up a wall.

Perhaps that last bit is foreshadowing because, and this is just one example of where things go awry, Hathaway isn't just a hacker, he is also great with guns, exceptional at withstanding pain, and has commando-level hand-to-hand combat skills. Maybe that is all stuff he learned in prison, the film never bothers to explain, but needs him to be great at these things in order to have the action sequences work.

And that last paragraph right there, that shows you the problem with the movie – it isn't really about computer hacking. Oh, ostensibly it is in that Hathaway has to team up with the Chinese and American governments in order to stop a bad guy hacker, but the film isn't in any way interested in that. It's a slick action film wrapped around the hacking.

Also important to note – Hathaway is the nicest, sweetest, kindest, best bad guy hacker you'll ever meet. You see, he would never steal from hardworking people, and he didn't really want to steal anyway, he was forced into it all. Mann makes a deliberate choice to have the bad guy anti-hero at the center of the film not a bad guy at all, to soften those edges until he's a nice shiny good guy (really he is!) and has been all along. The movie would be a lot more interesting if this was really one bad hacker going after another.

Those hacking moments in the film actually work. "Blackhat" opens with a depiction, inside a computer, of a computer virus taking over machinery to cause massive amounts of devastation. It is a fun (if slightly over the top) opening and makes you fear for what real world villains can do. Mann even goes back to that type of visual later in the movie for another hacking attack. But, all too soon, it seems that the only way Hathaway and the team will succeed in beating their unknown adversary is with old-school globe-trotting, fisticuffs, and massive amounts of gunplay.

There are two problems with this approach.

First, the action sequences aren't terribly good. They are absolutely standard, run of the mill things – the bad guys have automatic weapons and usually can't hit the broadside of a barn no matter how many thousands of bullets they pump out, while the good guys, when they can hit anything, hit everything (it really is all or none). Additionally, for some reason, when the movie is in action sequence mode, the visuals go choppy. It isn't a matter just of quick cutting, even when a single shot is held, it appears as though there are frames missing creating a different feel for those sequences. It doesn't heighten the action or intensity, instead it pulls the audience out of it. Assuredly this style is purposeful, but to what intended end—other than giving it a unique "feel"—I don't know.

Second, why have the action scenes at all? This is a movie purportedly about cyber-villainy, it would be so much more compelling if Mann and writer Morgan Davis Foehl found their solution there in the high-tech world rather than the low-tech one. "Blackhat" is very good at explaining away why the characters have to run all over the world and can't be off-site, but each explanation is worse than the one that came before.

Sadly, the issues with the film don't stop there either. The characters in the movie are supposed to be intelligent folks, people who are the best at what they do. For some reason, however, they keep doing dumb things which, miraculously, advance the plot in needed ways. And, when the movie can't come up with something silly for the characters to do, it advances the plot in ways that make no sense.

Take, as a single example of this, the love story. You see, Hathaway went to college with the Chinese official, Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) who is in charge of the investigation on Chinese side. That is how Hathaway comes to be involved (I won't even get into why Chen Dawai is involved because it's too silly). The important thing is that our Chinese official has an attractive sister, Lien Chen (Wei Tang), whom he insists on bringing along on the mission for skills not in evidence for most of the movie. Naturally, a romance blossoms between the sister and Hathaway. It does so with no explanation other than it being night, the view being pretty, and these being attractive people. Chen Dawai finds out about the relationship in a really perplexing way, and isn't happy.

If you're with me to this point, you have probably summed the biggest single problem with the movie – it all feels terribly forced. From the way Viola Davis' government agent, Carol Barrett, goes from hating Hathaway to liking him to the various deaths needed to push the story to everything other element. They exist to push the characters into action sequences that aren't great shouldn't be necessary.

It is unfortunate as there at the core of it all is this interesting tale about hacking. That is the movie I want to see, and the one I wish Mann had made.





photo credit: Universal Pictures

Friday, January 09, 2015

"Parenthood," some incoherent ramblings on the NBC series' upcoming departure


Over the past few years, "Parenthood" has enthralled and infuriated me. With the series coming to an end very shortly, I have been spending some time trying to figure it all out. Forgive the below's format as something of a stream of consciousness piece, this is one of those ones where it's the act of putting pen to paper (or keys to keyboard) that helps me organize my thoughts.

When "Parenthood" was first announced, I wasn't buying it. Loved the movie, didn't like the first attempt at a series, why go after that name? Did it really hold any value? Then, I was further distressed when Maura Tierney dropped out (that ought not be seen as a reflection on Lauren Graham, who is fantastic, I just like Tierney).

Once I finally got to see the pilot, I was much happier. The Bravermans work because they're what we are meant to see as your average family. There are screw-ups and overachievers and multiple generations and issues big and small. The cast has, for the most part, been outstanding, and they have generally been able to succeed even when the plots have failed.

My biggest complaint with the show is its inability to deal with its own history. Whether the series purposefully retcons stuff or it just happens to be accidental, so much changes through the years that it can be a little difficult to know when characters simply aren't being as truthful as they ought or when the show has decided that something that did happen, didn't.

Right now, for me, the biggest example of this is Adam and Kristina making a school for Max. A large story early on with the series dealt with Kristina and Adam trying to get Max into the regular classroom at his public school. It was a grueling task, but they (as I recall, mainly Kristina) fought and made it happen.

Poof. That's gone. Here we are a few years later and Kristina has opened a school for Max because Max wasn't getting the attention that he needed in public school. I wonder if Max didn't get that attention because Max was, at the Bravermans' request, put in the regular classroom.

As a parent, I know that if I made the decision to fight for a specific placement for my child and then ended up having to pull my kid from the school entirely, there would be more than one sleepless night discussing it with my spouse. It would be discussed over and over and over again. For weeks. For months. For years. There would be massive amounts of guilt. We haven't gotten that on "Parenthood" and, to go back to my earlier point, I don't know whether the show is pretending like the initial fight didn't exist or simply lacked the time/desire to deal with it.

I am, at this moment, tempted to launch into a whole Joel/Julia thing, but it would simply be too heart-wrenching. Briefly, I despised the storyline dealing with their relationship troubles when it began and hate even more the way that Joel has, this season, been painted as the bad guy. He was wrong. Julia was wrong. If you want to get into who was more wrong, well, in my world it was Julia, but I could have a bias there, and am not willing to argue it here and now.

And this is, maybe, why "Parenthood" is in fact a great show despite its faults – it still makes us care. I may hate some of the stories. I may not like some of the actions taken. I may not actually believe that the storylines we're currently getting are in anyway an outgrowth of what has taken place in the past (or even possible when the past is considered), but I still care about the characters.

I want Joel and Julia to live happily ever after. I will be upset if Zeke dies (and more upset if Camille does). I don't care a whit if the Luncheonette makes it, but I want Crosby and Adam to remain friends. I want Max to succeed in life and Amber to raise a happy and healthy child, for it not to take her as long to straighten her life out as it took for her mother.

Despite everything, I care deeply about these characters, even the miraculous disappearing-reappearing Haddie. I am rooting for them in a way that I don't normally root for TV characters.

The series ends on January 29th, and by the time 11pm rolls around, we'll have gotten all the answers we're ever going to get from the show, but for my money, if ever there were a drama series that deserved to be analyzed and pulled-apart in a book, it's "Parenthood." Hopefully someone wiser than I will tackle it.

photo credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC