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Reviewed by Will Harris
’m as surprised as anyone to be reviewing “Everwood: The Complete Second Season,” though it’s not for the reasons you might think.
The first season of “Everwood” was released on DVD in 2004, when the show was actually still airing on the late, great network known as The WB. It was an expensive prospect to bring the series to home video, however, due to its tendency to utilize popular songs as part of its soundtrack, so when Season One didn’t exactly set records with its sales, the studio restrained itself from releasing Season Two right away. That restraint held strong for almost half a decade, but the fan outcry finally reached a point where Warner Brothers couldn’t stand it anymore, and we were gifted at long last with “Everwood: The Complete Second Season.”
I never watched the series when it was on the air, however, so I really had no interest in tackling a review of a show’s second season when I hadn’t seen the first. But when a copy arrived at the Bullz-Eye offices, I looked into the history of the show and learned something I hadn’t realized: it was the work of Greg Berlanti, who executive produced two of my favorite series of the past few years: “Dirty Sexy Money” and “Eli Stone.” Since no one else was chomping at the bit to tackle it, I figured I’d bite the bullet and give it a shot.
What I found was a series that was far better than I’d expected it to be – much more of a family drama than a bunch of teen angst masquerading as drama.
“Everwood” serves as a reminder that, when it comes to family dramas, the acting ability of the adults is worth a thousand times more than the cuteness of the teenage members of the cast. As Dr. Andy Brown, Treat Williams comes across as the kind of guy who strives to offer a likeable persona no matter what else may be going on in his life, but after the events which occurred after the credits rolled at the end of Season One (his attempts to save Colin’s life had failed), that external façade begins to break. Things don’t get significantly better during the course of Season Two, as he quickly learns that his relationship with his son, Ephram (Gregory Smith), isn’t nearly as solid as it used to be.
Ephram’s a character who actually feels like a real kid. As a musical prodigy who loves his comic books, he’s not necessarily a cool kid, but he very much feels real. He spent all of Season One pining for Colin’s girlfriend, Amy (Emily VanCamp), but although she’s technically available now, he has the common decency to avoid going after her. He does, however, find himself a woman this year (and an older woman, no less), in the Brown family’s new nanny, Madison Kellner, played by Sarah Lancaster. If you’ve enjoyed Lancaster’s work on “Chuck” as the title character’s sister but have always felt like she wasn’t being utilized to her full potential, you’ll dig her time spent on “Everwood.” The relationship between Ephram and Madison is a difficult one, given that it’s not even legal (she’s 20, he’s 16), but you do get the impression that it’s love rather than lust; the problem comes simply from their inability to hang out together in social situations. Let’s not dismiss Amy, however, as she’s a big part of this season as well. Indeed, she’s inextricably linked to the Brown’s story, since her father, Dr. Harold Abbott (Tom Amandes), is Everwood’s other physician, and her grandmother is actually Dr. Brown’s receptionist. Amy’s trying to work through her grief, and the depression she suffers from Colin’s death is understandably intense, but at the same time, she’s a teenage girl who knows that she has to move on with her life. The question is, “How?”
The relationships between the adults in “Everwood” are at least as important as the ones between the kids. Drs. Brown and Abbott are forever sniping at each other, but as they invariably prove, they respect each other and can’t help but follow their instincts to assist each other. There’s also a new wrinkle this season with the arrival of Harold’s sister, Dr. Linda Abbott (Marcia Cross), who joins his practice and turns Dr. Brown’s head, much to the dismay of young Delia Brown (Vivien Cardone), who doesn’t want her father to date anyone. Linda’s storyline ends up growing substantially throughout the season, and although her medical condition (she’s HIV-positive) at first seems like a typical dramatic plot device, the show takes it in an unexpected direction by having Harold’s medical practice fall into jeopardy.
I’m probably the last person to get on board with “Everwood,” but after watching Season Two, I regret that I’ve only just now discovered it. It’s an intriguing family drama – one which offers a balance between adults and teens and takes both of their storylines seriously without pandering. If you’ve never checked it out, here’s a perfect excuse to pick up Seasons One and Two simultaneously. After all, if you’re going to dive in, you might as well go whole hog. (Plus, it’s added incentive for Warner Brothers to get Seasons Three and Four into stores, too!)
Special Features: Given the delay in getting the second season to DVD, perhaps it was too much to hope for that we’d get a set completely tricked out with bonus material. We do at least get deleted scenes on each of the four discs, but that’s it.