It’s FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS Meets Ron Howard – What Could Go Wrong?


It’s a barometer of changes in the TV business that when the movie Parenthood was last turned into a TV show, it was a half-hour single-camera comedy/drama (one of the writers was Joss Whedon). Now the same network, NBC, is making the same movie into another show, but it’s totally different because this version is an hour-long single-camera comedy/drama. The writer of the new version will be Friday Night Lights producer Jason Katims.

Jokes about NBC’s total lack of creativity aside — okay, we can never put them completely aside — I never get why Parenthood is considered such a great prospect for TV adaptation. Yeah, it’s a big-screen sitcom, as Ken Tucker pointed out in his (favourable) review of the 1990 flop TV version, but that’s the thing — it was a pleasant enough movie, but has nothing to distinguish it from many other TV shows about families. You could literally make a new show with the exact same premise without ripping off Parenthood, because the premise is just, well, here’s a family. It may have made sense to turn it into a show in 1990 because the movie was fresh in people’s minds, but why now, except that somebody at NBC remembers the movie?

The intro for the original TV version of Parenthood is available in this batch of 1990 intros. It starts at around 5:05. But also check out what’s right before it: the intro for Going Places, a Miller-Boyett show starring Alan Ruck, Heather Locklear, Hallie Todd, Staci Keanan and Holland Taylor. And it ends with the whole cast riding in a freakin’ boat. Ah, 1990.

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It’s FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS Meets Ron Howard – What Could Go Wrong?

  1. I did enjoy the cavalcade of 90’s shows.. but I really enjoyed the Parenthood one with it’s Randy Newman theme. Perhaps this was the theme that got him the Toy Story gig,.. since there seems to be elements of that in this. Oh, and I got a big smile on my face when the Flash intro came on. Love that Elfman score.
    Honestly Jamie, there’s a wealth of posts right here in that youtube clip. Like more on the Going Places show if nothing else.
    Alright, I’m done now.

    • Well, Going Places was a Miller-Boyett show about four young writers for a TV show, all of whom live in the same house and have wacky twentysomething adventures. It was a bit of The Dick Van Dyke Show crossed with a lot of Miller-Boyett’s own Bosom Buddies, but apparently nowhere near as good. They had Holland Taylor as their boss (playing her Bosom Buddies character under a different name) and Staci Keanan as a teenage girl who lives next door and was there for no better reason than to give teenage boys somebody to crush on. When the show didn’t take, Miller-Boyett did what they did best and retooled the show, giving the characters a new Alan Brady-type boss to work for, but it only lasted one season anyway. However, M-B were proven right in their belief that Alan Ruck and Heather Locklear were not washed up, since they both went on to do successful, non-M-B shows.

      The other trivia about it is that it got on the air because Miller-Boyett convinced ABC that their entire TGIF lineup should consist of M-B shows, for consistency. So ABC canceled a perfectly decent, reasonably successful show, Just The Ten of Us, and replaced it with this turkey. I think the lineup that season went Full House, Perfect Strangers, Family Matters, Going Places — four shows were the title sequence has a loud theme song that really oversells the premise, plus footage of the cast doing cool stuff together in the city in question. M-B were nothing if not consistent.

      • I think having the characters loving doing stuff together and then mugging for the camera is what I love most about the M-B shows