So instead of viewing the pilot with local luminaries at the beautifully restored Fox Theater in downtown Oaktown, I watched the start of the series from the comfort of my couch in a modest west Berkeley cottage.
An adaptation of the popular movie starring Steve Martin and directed by Ron Howard, this writer won’t pretend to critique the plot lines, character development, or narrative arc of this new family drama.
I just wanted to see if the fictional Braverman family — extended, close-knit and Berkeley-based — resemble real folks I’ve come across living in this town.
I had my doubts from the start. How many dads do you run into at school drop-off who look like actor Peter Krause, who plays the eldest Braverman sibling, Adam? And what’s with the corporate attire? He even shows up at a burger joint sporting a bright blue tie.
Likewise the moms are too made-up to feel like real Berkeley mamas; Kristina’s platinum ponytail would seem more at home in San Francisco’s Marina than, say, Solano Avenue.
As for authentic local color, as noted here earlier, the senior Braverman’s abode does look like it could belong in Berkeley, Children’s Fairyland in Oakland gets nice play, as does Oscar’s Hot Dogs on Shattuck.
And the line: “Berkeley is a living hell! I’m not moving there!” sounds like something a confirmed citysider might say, the kind who never crosses the Bay Bridge — not so much what you’d expect to hear out of the mouth of a surly teen from Fresno.
While I did get drawn in by the saga of the single mom, stay-at-home dad, and perfect parents discovering their little boy may be less than perfect, it was all too bright and shiny, and mostly white and wealthy, to feel like the real deal to me.
Besides, what was with all the references to “Berkeley Coffee?” Why couldn’t the scriptwriters just call the place Peet’s?
Word on the street is that local flavor will be scarce in future episodes: To cut costs, LaLaLand will serve as a stand-in for Berzerkeley.
How surreal is that?
Photo: Courtesy NBC Universal Inc.