My dislike for Steve Martin (Planes, Trains and Automobiles aside) and Ron Howard (virtually everything he's directed) meant I never got around to seeing the 1989 feature film nor the original attempt at adapting it into a TV Series. From what I can tell, they took the basic, broad premise of the movie -- four children and their parents struggling with parenthood: one the father of a son with Asperger's, one the divorced mother of two troubled teens, one a wife feeling that her husband has squeezed her out of her daughter's life, and one a slacker, directionless father to a biracial son -- and ditched everything else. The inccessant NBC promos during the Olympics and my love for Lauren Graham convinced me to tune in. One thing I was not prepared for was how much Peter Krause, in the Steve Martin role, is the first among equals in this ensemble. The entire family revolves around him, and he mostly bears the burden well. The parents (played by Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia) gravitate a little too close to the batty liberal old couple that are a sitcom staple at first glance, but Nelson's patriarch in particular ultimately comes across as the classic old school American father, territory that Ed O'Neill has been in total command of all season on "Modern Family". Lauren Graham adds some much needed comic relief to the show, even as her storyline is full of affecting dramatic moments. Graham swings between the two poles better than anyone else working today. Erika Christensen has graduated to adult roles, as the extremely successful alpha female that is watching her home life slip away from her. Dax Shepard plays the resident Type B of the family, who has been gliding through life relatively care-free until his girlfriend manipulates him into promising him a kid right before he discovers he conceived a young son with an old flame. And that's just the core family. Mae Whitman and Sarah Ramos are effective as the teenage daughters to Graham's character and Krause's character respectively. Sam Jaeger is non-threatening and domesticated as the stay-at-home husband to Christensen's high-powered lawyer. I grew up in an extended family that met for holidays and anniversaries and that was pretty much it, so the idea of four siblings that constantly weave in and out of each others' lives is completely foreign to me. This stellar cast sold it for me, with a filming style that translates "The West Wing's" breakneck verbal pacing to the domestic front. In the short-term, I think the show's juggling too much, because we never get to spend enough time with any of the stories. That being said, there were several moments in this pilot where I choked up a bit, which is a tribute to the performances -- especially Peter Krause's as the seemingly ideal dad that's on the verge of cracking up just under the surface.