[16 June 2009]
Everwood’s first season revolved around Dr. Andrew Brown (Treat Williams) relocating his teenage son, Ephram (Gregory Smith), and young daughter, Delia (Vivien Cardone) to a small Colorado town after the death of his wife, Julia. Upon arriving at Everwood, the Browns had to adapt to life in a small town while also dealing with their grief.
By the time the second season begins, the Browns are comfortably ensconced in Everwood. As usually happens with a series set in a small town, Everwood is comprised of more than a few quirky personalities. Dr. Harold Abbott (Tom Amandes), the town’s original general practitioner, has forged an uneasy friendship with Dr. Brown, yet they continue to butt heads and engage in colorful banter on a regular basis.
Edna (Debra Mooney), Harold’s mother and Dr. Brown’s nurse, is ex-military, brash, and decidedly no nonsense. Edna’s interracial marriage to Irv (John Beasley) has been the subject of some controversy in the past; and he serves as the calming counterpart to Edna’s harsher personality.
The series succeeds in creating characters that are nuanced and three-dimensional. Everwood managed to present its characters (and not just secondary, tangential characters, but the main protagonists of the series) as highly flawed and at times, flat out unlikable. However, creator Greg Berlanti and his writers do an admirable job of presenting the characters’ in such a way that even when they are unsympathetic, the audience is not alienated.
Dr. Brown’s relationship with Ephram is an especially good example of this practice in that they are often at odds with one another and this usually leads to one or the other saying or acting in a way that is clearly obnoxious, or rude, or unfair. Yet the writing is usually so good that it’s easy to understand where they are both coming from.
Ephram’s relationship with Amy (Emily VanCamp), his classmate and Dr. Abbott daughter, a storyline that was front and center in the first season, takes somewhat of a backseat when Ephram begins to date Delia’s babysitter Madison (Sarah Lancaster). It’s a problematic relationship in that he is only 16 and she is four years older, technically making her relationship with him illegal. Ephram’s ineptitude in romantic matters and Madison’s reluctance to make their relationship public eventually leads to its implosion. The storyline has its share of complications, not the least of which involves Dr. Brown’s wary permission of their relationship.
Amy’s storyline for the season is of particular note. The season begins with the town dealing with the very recent death of her boyfriend, Colin Hart. Amy’s inability to deal with the enormity of the situation leads to her depression and a falling out with her family.
What’s especially interesting about this story is that Amy is given the time to really deal into the aftermath of such a loss. This was not anything Amy was going to bounce back from quickly and the series made that very clear. Her depression eventually leads to her seeking out prescription anti-depressants, against her father’s wishes, and in the latter half of the season she moves in with her grandparents and begins a doomed relationship with what can only be described as a ‘bad boy’.
Along the way, characters with less fleshed-out roles in the first season become more integral to the story. Amy’s older brother, Bright (Chris Pratt), is a perfect example of this kind of character growth. Originally, Bright was painted as the dumb jock, often bordering on bully behavior. The second season finds Bright and Ephram striking up an unlikely friendship and Bright taking on a new role in the Abbott household when Amy leaves. Bright also frequently serves as the comic relief of the series and provides a nice balance to much of the drama.
Each episode is book-ended by Irv’s narration. Though sometimes a bit obvious and heavy handed, the narration serves as a way to frame the story in the context of the current episode, as well as in the larger overall series.
Everwood seems to have been saddled with the ‘wholesome’ label even though much of the show does not fit neatly into that category. Certainly the premise of the series carries its own clichés and stereotypes about the bonds of family and friends. And yes, the series was frequently poignant, but more often than not the moments were earned and didn’t feel like a ploy to elicit an emotional response in the audience.
But Everwood was also about difficult and uneasy relationships with complicated consequences. By not relying on quick fixes and cheap sentiment, the series managed to offer a satisfying blend of drama and lightheartedness with real investment for the viewer.
The bonus features included consist solely of unaired scenes for about half of the episodes on the discs. While they are a nice extra, for the most part the scenes add little to the originally aired episodes.