Cue the tears: Ray Romano returns to 'Parenthood'

Ray Romano returns to "Parenthood" for its fifth season.
Ray Romano has earned critical raves playing moody photographer Hank Rizzoli on NBC's "Parenthood."NBC / Jordin Althaus/NBC

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By Maria Elena Fernandez and Phil Helsel

At the end of the last season of NBC’s “Parenthood,” you might have wondered if that was the last you would see of Hank (Ray Romano). Whether you were Team Mark (Jason Ritter) or Team Hank (Romano), you were certainly touched by Hank’s last loving gesture toward Sarah (Lauren Graham) before moving to Minnesota — bringing her an old camera to give to her nephew Max (Max Burkholder), with whom he has an innate connection.

Sarah (Lauren Graham) and Hank (Ray Romano) parted ways in the season finale of "Parenthood." Hank returns in the season premiere, but will they reconcile?NBC / Today

By then, you had probably cried a lot. Mark, a fan favorite, wanted to reconcile with Sarah but she turned him down, thinking she was better off building a relationship with Hank. Until Hank decided he was better off moving to Minnesota so that he could be closer to his daughter. Sarah was left alone, and it appeared that Romano’s terrific guest-star turn on the show was over.

Stop your tears; at least, for this storyline. Hank is back. We won’t spoil what brings the grouchy photographer back to Berkeley, but creator and executive producer Jason Katims says Romano will appear in the majority of the season’s episodes. But the relationship Hank is developing is with Max. Sarah, confronting her empty nest now that Drew (Miles Heizer) is off at college, has found her own apartment and started a new career.

“We really were just charmed by the idea of Max and Hank together,” Katims said after a press screening of the season premiere on Thursday. “It sort of made sense to us and seemed believable to me. And that’s kind of our way in for the Hank character this year.”

If you're wondering if television's biggest cry-inducer will continue with its wonderful weepy quality, the answer is yes. But take consolation in the fact that everyone involved with the show -- from the writers to the actors to the crew -- do their own share of crying over the episodes.

“Try sitting in the editing room and crying in front of your editor,” Katims said. “The weird sounds that have come out of me.”

Katims admitted the writers also cry when they're breaking stories, and he’s even become emotional at pitch meetings with the network brass.

Sam Jaeger, who plays Joel, said he had just received a text from his on-screen wife (Erika Christensen). It said: “I’m reading (the next script) now. Wow.”

“We’re five seasons in and it still gets us," he said. "We’re just as big of fans of the show as the fans are.”

The fifth season of "Parenthood" begins on Sept. 26 at 10 p.m. on NBC.