Did you catch the debut of NBC's Parenthood last night? As I mentioned yesterday, the episode featured among its many many many plotlines a quirky boy getting a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome. The pilot was way overstuffed with stories, of which Max's oddness, diagnosis, struggling parents, and extended family support was to me the most compelling -- though it got only short scenes to portray a process that might have taken significant time in real time, particularly the grandfather coming around. I thought the boy who played Max (Max Burkholder, pictured second from left with Peter Krause, who plays his dad, and most of the show's kid characters) did a fine job of making Max's behavior seem like a part of him, and not something to put on.
Series pilots tend to fall all over themselves with exposition, setting up all the stories it will be telling so that viewers will know if they want to ride along. This one could have used quite a bit of pruning to let some of the more promising storylines flourish. I almost wish the Asperger's diagnosis could have come in a later episode in which it was the primary plot thread, instead of one dish in a smorgasbord. But I'll keep watching to see how Max and his family take it from here.
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images