Far too many of our favorite TV programs are on hiatus at the moment, with no new episodes airing until 2012. That's the bad news.
The good news, however? Now is an ideal time to gauge where these shows stand, Midseason Report Card style! We've already graded the first half of The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle and Fringe. Up now: Parenthood.
Best Character: Now that he has been given material outside the realm of "Mr. Mom," we've had a chance to see the real man that is Joel Graham. Until this season he was underused and unappreciated. His stance on parenting, his support as a husband and his wickedly spot on sense of humor have been standouts on Parenthood this season, and the more Joel, the better.
Worst Character: I'm sorry her year has been so rough, but it's Haddie Braverman. Her sense of entitlement and immaturity robbed us of one of the best parts of Parenthood this year, her boyfriend Alex. While she seemed pretty well put together last season, especially in light of the self-implosion of both Amber and Crosby, we gave her too much credit. She showed hope as the midseason finale ended, so I hope her name isn't still on the card at the end of the season.
Most Improved Character: Crosby! Having his life torn asunder by another typical Crosby mistake, he learned not to make them any more. He has his head on straight and shows genuine care and concern for all aspects of his life. His immediate family, Jasimine and Jabbar and even his new business venture with Adam. He's been willing to own up to past misdeeds and make the best choices he can as he moves forward. Bravo!
Slip Sliding Away (or character who made a wrong turn): Adam, dear Adam. We're not sure who he's become this season. With the loss of your long term job and a new baby, he's fallen farther from his family than I ever though possible. Once seemingly the most responsible of all his siblings, he seems to be taking a break. Even Crosby is giving him better advice than he is utilizing. Get your head out of your butt, Adam!
Best Story Beginning: Joel and Julia deciding to adopt, and then Julia throwing caution to the wind and asking the coffee girl at her office, Zoe, for her baby was the beginning of a fabulous arc. By midseason, what was once a no-brainer took on unwarranted pain as the father of Zoe's baby decided money was more important than a good home for his unborn child. I can't wait to see how this one plays out.
Best Story Wrap-Up: We've been hearing about Sarah's past since the first episode. Her alcoholic musician husband left them high and dry, and we finally got a chance to understand what she saw in him before his life fell apart. At the worst point in his life, he turned to Sarah to help him clean up his act and form a relationship with his family again. While it was touch and go as to whether she would fall back to her old ways of enabling him, Seth took the high road and left town, knowing it was the best for all involved. That part of her life needed closure, and she got it.
Best Episode: "Nora" gave us some of the funniest and most heartfelt moments of any show on television this year. From Adam walking down the street rapping in his blinged out getup to Crosby and Kristina arguing and then working together to bring Nora into the world, it was full of laughter and tears. Just watching this one episode should be enough to engage new viewers for Parenthood. Hint: Replay it.
Hopes for 2012: We have a short season on our hands this year with only 18 total episodes. I hope they fast-forward a bit so that we don't lose precious time. I want to see what happens when Zoe's baby is born. Will she become a part of the Graham family, along with her child? Adam and Kristina must move beyond their petty behavior and become the parenting team they were before. We need them to be strong. Crosby needs love in his life. He's found success in business, now let's see some in love. The kids? Well, I expect they'll continue their ups and downs, and that's fine; as long as they are evenly distributed. More Zeek and Camille please. A story of their own. Let's see them reengage in the love they have shared for so many decades. Embarrass the kids.
What about you? Share your thoughts for Parenthood in 2012 and meet us back here when it returns on January 3.