10:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Parenthood' Boss on Move to Thursdays, the Bravermans' 'Expanding World'
NBC's Parenthood is growing up.
The drama from executive producer Jason Katims returns this month for its fifth season with a prestigious time slot -- as the anchor of NBC's nearly new Thursday lineup.
"To me, it's a show with support from the network," Katims tells The Hollywood Reporter, noting that the move to 10 p.m. -- ER's former slot and an hour with which the network has recently had its fair share of troubles -- was a conversation that he'd had before with NBC Entertainment president Bob Greenblatt. "While we obviously want to do well, NBC clearly understands that there's a lot of work for them to do in that time slot, so I don't think they have unrealistic expectations of us."
In its new home on the schedule, critical darling Parenthood will face off against CBS' Elementary and ABC's red-hot Scandal -- competition that doesn't seem to worry Katims.
"In the fourth season, our audience was growing, and they're very passionate about the show and they'll watch," he says. "But the great thing is this gives us an opportunity to find more audience, who I also think are excited about us coming on that night."
Katims, who, come midseason, will have two series on the air when his adaptation of About a Boy joins the schedule on Tuesdays once The Voice ends, says Parenthood's new -- and buzzy -- lead-in serves as the perfect table setter for his family drama.
"Having The Michael J. Fox Show as a lead-in will help as well in terms of having people potentially stay and watch the next show," he explains. "NBC is very much making the night about family."
Indeed. Parenthood will cap a night that will launch with Parks and Recreation -- NBC's lone returning comedy -- followed by rookies Welcome to the Family and Sean Hayes' vehicle Sean Saves the World, which set up Michael J. Fox's return to comedy. The latter show is a big bet for NBC, which landed the comedy with a rare straight-to-series 22-episode commitment.
As NBC bets big on families, Katims will look to expand Parenthood's in season five when Amber (Mae Whitman) and Ryan (returning guest star Matt Lauria) explore marriage. It's a storyline that Katims says will be both "very romantic" and have an "enormous" amount of conflict in it.
While Amber is doing well, her mother, Sarah (Lauren Graham), will start a new job as an apartment building manager after her son, Drew (Miles Heizer), heads off to college. "There's a potential for her to focus on herself in a way that when she looks for a new place to live, she doesn't have to worry about if it's suitable for children," Katims explains, noting that just because Ray Romano (Hank) is returning, Sarah might not likely head down the altar this season. "It's a place that works for her, so she can do her own thing."
After last year featured Kristina's (Monica Potter) season-long cancer storyline that ended with a clean bill of health and beautiful moment on the beach, Katims says he already has some ideas about the final moment of season five.
"There are several stories that we're introducing this year that have a lot of weight," he says. "The cancer story was its own thing, and it was important to me when we were starting the writer's room this year to not chase after anything and say, 'What's our cancer storyline this year?' "
Also in the cards this season will be a big journey for Joel (Sam Jaeger) and Julia (Erika Christensen) that will see their marriage tested when they encounter new threats to their union from characters played by Sonya Walger and David Denman.
Meanwhile, Katims is excited to explore Zeke's (Craig T. Nelson) and Camille's (Bonnie Bedelia) relationship in a story that takes them beyond simply being grandparents.
"They're getting to this point in their lives where they're starting to think about what their third act is going to look like, and they might not be on the same page about it," Katims says. "There's something there that I find very interesting and calls back to the first season when there was a story with them where it touched on his infidelity and their money problems."
If it sounds like Parenthood has a lot going on, it should. NBC upped Parenthood's episode count from 15 in season four to a full 22 hours -- the largest order since season two, when it had the same order.
"There are so many things brewing, and I'm very excited about the scope of the season this year because we have so many stories going on," Katims says. "The world keeps expanding; Drew's in college and we're also going to feature very significant guest roles this year that will impact the lives of our characters. Not only does the show continue to get richer, but it also continues to broaden. We have more places to go and it's somewhat challenging from a housekeeping perspective, but it's exciting for the audience. They're just going to feel like there's so much going on."
Parenthood returns Sept. 26 at 10 p.m. on NBC. Hit the comments below with what you're looking forward to seeing.