Parenthood is a beautiful little show. It's not shooting for the stars, but does a nice job capturing day-to-day moments in a close-knit, slightly manic family. While it has some uneven moments, as the show tries to find its footing during a short (13 episode) first season, each episode manages to have moments that ring true and are moving. Plus, each episode has a way of leaving the viewer feeling better for watching.
* Peter Krause and Monica Potter play a loving, close husband and wife who have each other's backs, are each other's support system and enjoy each other's company. Not quite as epic as FNL's Taylors, but still a refreshing change from so many other TV couples. And with the stories laid out in the first season, combined with these skilled actors, there is lots of potential for upside in this positive portrayal of married life.
* Dax Shepard and Tyree Brown are really enjoyable as Crosby and his newly discovered son. Together, they have real charm and chemistry and are fun to watch.
* Mae Whitman is fantastic as teenaged Amber; even though her storyline swings toward melodrama, her performance never does. Actually, in general, all the younger Bravermens are interesting characters in their own right, with their own quirks and styles and all well played. There's not a bad child actor in the bunch.
* Wonderful music selection throughout the episodes
The show's not perfect: the naturalistic, improv friendly shooting style sometimes brings out really wonderful scenes, but other times feels like the writers didn't give enough structure to support a scene. And in a related issue, the noisy, boisterous, everybody-talking-at-once style, while true-to-life, sometimes distracts from the scenes.
The pace and tone of the show can be uneven, swerving from quieter, more thoughtful moments, to manic conflict, to comedic scenes very quickly, and some of the "comedic" elements seem a bit forced.
Also, with so many characters, there's a *lot* of story, some of it played out too fast, or with not enough depth. And some characters disappear for large chunks of time (ie Bonnie Bedelia's Camille and Miles Heizer's Drew) even when they could have some interesting things going on. I'd seen a review of the show that summarizes it well. To paraphrase: This is a strong, character-rich, well-acted show that should be character driven, but seems to be written as a plot-driven show, with serial elements sometimes overwhelming the characters or making things feel rushed.
Overall, the show is definitely worth checking out. There's a lot to entertain and to be appreciated. Plus there is a lot of promise for future seasons. Just relax and enjoy it: don't expect perfection, but expect to be genuinely moved a couple of times an episode.
My biggest complaint with the Season 1 DVD's is the lack of special features. They are below what would be expected for a show like this. There is only one episode commentary, a handful of deleted scenes and one featurette. No cast commentary, writer commentary on only one episode and only from the creator. No outtakes. It just feels like not a lot of effort went into making the DVD release something special.