Friday, June 7, 2013

TV Show Review: Growing Pains - Season 1

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters; some good laughs
Cons: Could be funnier; Jeremy Miller's acting
The Bottom Line
Gentle comedy
From 80's family sitcom
Still entertaining

"You Were Right.  You're Always Right.  I Find That Annoying."

Since I didn't watch much TV growing up, I didn't watch Growing Pains when it first aired in the 80's.  I had heard so much about the show that I decided to give the first season DVD set a try.  While it won't be making my list of favorite sitcoms of all time, I did find it amusing and entertaining.

The show revolves around the Seaver family.  Dad Jason (Alan Thicke) has just moved his psychiatry practice into the family home so that mom Maggie (Joanna Kerns) can reenter the work force as a reporter.  Their kids are teenagers Mike (Kirk Cameron) and Carol (Tracey Gold) along with 9 year old Ben (Jeremy Miller).

This show wasn't really that groundbreaking.  Each episode features a new, fun chapter for the family.  Mike and Jason go to a Springsteen concert, which is fine until Jason embarrasses his son on the news.  Carol, the brainiest of the kids, decides to write an article to try out of the school newspaper one week and then later develops a crush on a much older family friend.  Ben blackmails Mike after taking the blame for breaking a window.  And Jason and Maggie have a hard time rearranging their schedules to spend their anniversary together.

While some of the episodes are sub-par, like the one that finds a girl pushing Mike to go farther than he wants to go or the Christmas episode, others are pretty good.  Two "Slice of Life" episodes just feature the family in several smaller plots.  I also loved the one where Mike discovers that his bad reputation is a problem when he tells the truth in an impossible situation.  This isn't a show that will have you doubled over with laughter, but you will chuckle at many of the situations.

One thing I love about the show is the fact that the family, even the teens, truly does love each other.  Even Mike, who is embarrassed by his parents at times, does enjoy hanging out with them most of the time.

The acting is fairly good, mostly from the parents.  The older kids are a bit too broad at times.  Jeremy Miller, the youngest member of the cast, seems to struggle the most with a constant smirk on his face.  He's watchable, but his acting could be better.

Season one consisted of 22 episodes, and they are all here on four discs.  Extras include parts of the original pilot in which Elizabeth Ward played Carol and a gag reel.  There's also a half hour reunion of the cast (and one writer) as they talk about being cast in the show and the first season.  It's your typical rose colored glasses special feature, but it's interesting to watch.

While the first season of Growing Pains wasn't side splitting funny, I did laugh and com to like them.  For those looking for a bit of 80's nostalgia, this series will fit the bill.

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