By Ken Tucker
Updated October 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM EDT

Because Parenthood is, among other good things, a paragon of domestic semi-realism (nope, still not buying that coffee-cart-girl adoption), I was dismayed to see how Kristina and her mere-days-old Nora were ignored once they got home from the hospital. This was mostly because… Cee Lo Green was coming to town! In some nifty NBC/The Voice crossover, Green checked out Crosby’s “smells like Jerry Garcia’s socks” old studio and was sold on the idea of recording in the room where Janis Joplin made music. Green’s cover of “Piece of My Heart” was promising, but because of Adam’s delightfully nervous dithering (delightful for us as viewers appreciating Peter Krause’s performance), Crosby was put in the unusual position of being the grown-up, the wise one, the guy who knew what business required — mostly requiring Adam to clam up and try to avoid doing his goofy-white-guy dancing in the control room. Another terrific turn by Dax Shepard here.

It’s too bad Haddie had to be a brat about her college essay versus Kristina’s exhaustion — couldn’t our usually-sensitive Haddie have overcome her jealousy and appreciated that beautiful baby sister sleeping next to her wiped-out mother? Oh, well, she came around with a grudging apology by the end.

I like John Corbett as Seth and all, but his periodic pop-ins for a which-way-to-rehab? cameo always drag down the show. Yes, they permit Lauren Graham to emote beautifully, but her Sarah can do that with her kids or her parents, can’t she? Time and subplots are precious on this show; we can use the time for more details about the stories we’re invested in long-term. Okay, I’m not completely heartless: Sarah’s anguish, and the spectacle of her running into a wall of hostility from Craig T. Nelson’s Zeek, was wrenching. (It was also a false dilemma: Sarah — and Joel and Julia — should just give money directly to the rehab, not to Seth.) (Oh, and way to finallystand up to Zeek, Joel.)

And the conclusion — Seth telling his kids he was going to do this, “it’s gonna be tough” but “we’ll do it as a family” — huh? Even Sarah was not buying into this that much, was she? Mae Whitman’s Amber has a lot of well-justified anger to work through before she gets with that program, and Miles Heizer’s Drew was still too blissfully addled at having kissed Amy to be fully on board. Can’t the Bravermans have one week of happiness? Imagine the fine episode that could have existed with Green being more funny than moody, Sarah smooching Jason Ritter’s Mark a lot and letting Seth find his own way to rehab, and everyone cooing over that baby!

But Parenthood remains true to itself, in an admirable, if ratings-repelling way. The great mass of America is going to continue to find this series too downbeat, even as the rest of us revel in its complications.

Agree? Disagree?

Twitter: @kentucker