Parenthood: So, Is Everybody Lovin' Ray Romano...? (Because We Kinda Liked Him)

Ray Romano ParenthoodWhen it was first reported that Ray Romano would be recurring in Parenthood Season 4 as a possible romantic interest for Lauren Graham’s Sarah, TVLine commenters used one word, often, to sum up the casting: Weird.

We, too, had to question it. And yet, having now met his character, photographer Hank Rizzoli…. We’ll allow it.

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As some surmised during that initial knee-jerk reaction to Romano’s casting, the problem may have been that we thought we’d get his loud, squawking (and Emmy-winning) Everybody Loves Raymond persona. But this is also the guy who exhibited more nuanced, dramedic chops on the undersampled Men of a Certain Age. And that’s the more modulated tone — if not an even quieter volume — that he brought to “weird, grumpy” Hank.

And in next week’s episode, you’ll see an even more relatable, almost (almost) compassionate side to the anti-social shutterbug. Plus, his throwaway snark is just funny. (“Is he a Make-A-Wish kid?”)

As for the other guy in Sarah’s life, color me worried about Mark and the engagement. Let’s count but a few of the anvils hoisted overhead as the family portrait inclusion issue was debated:
* “Where’s the ring?”
* “Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we expect it to.”
* “I’m not going anywhere!”
* “I can always Photoshop him out.”

Plus, there’s something that happens next week, illustrating what an adult like Hank can offer that younger Mark cannot. So yeah, I’m concerned.

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Elsewhere in the season premiere….

* The Victor storyline kinda had me groaning. Kristina couldn’t just call to ask if Julia’s son knew anything about where Guacamole might be? And really, who let’s any kid watch that kind of TV while sucking Cheez-Whiz out of a can? But in the end, it was worth the lonely lad’s small moment with Haddie and the banner, then Julia’s admission: “I feel like I’m waiting to fall in love with our son.”

* The Jabbar/religion debate seemed like filler — it’s not picked up on at all next week — but again, like the above plot, it eventually fed into a poignant moment, as father/son looked to the sky and spoke of what/who they believe in.

* Though slight in its screen time, I enjoyed the Amber storyline, mainly because she stood up for herself to Adam, who let’s face it went wayyyyy overboard in defending her honor. Plus, Mae Whitman sells the tiniest nuances, like the “What a nice surprise”/faint clap when Idol alum Paul McDonald’s serious girlfriend showed up at the studio.

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* Thought you’d escape the hour without losing it? Me too. And then Haddie turned around at the airport and went back for a family hug. Oof. But next week? Have handy the whole box o’ Kleenex.

What did you think of the Parenthood Season 4 premiere?