It’s easy for a new show to get loss in the sea of programming during the fall. Often, quality television shows get overlooked in favor of the more advertised ones airing on bigger networks. Such seemed to be the case for the WB/UPN/CW series, Everwood. I remembered hearing the premise of the show once before the fall programming began in 2002, but soon thereafter I forgot all about the show and spent my fall (and the next four years that the show aired) watching other shows.
After it’s cancellation in the spring of 2006, ABC Family picked up the series in October and began to air its reruns on weeknights. I ran across the show a few weeks after the reruns began and fell in love with it immediately. I regretted the years I hadn’t tuned in, but thankfully Everwood- The Complete First Season was available on DVD and I quickly bought a copy and started watching the series from the very beginning.
Everwood tells the story of Dr. Andrew Brown (Treat Williams), a famous Manhattan neurosurgeon, and his family. The first episode deals with the sudden death of his wife, which forces Andy to reexamine his life and his priorities. After realizing that he’s spent too much time working, and not enough time connecting with his family, Andy packs up his children, Ephram (Gregory Smith) and Delia(Vivien Cardone) and moves them to the remote town of Everwood, Colorado, where he believes he can reconnect with his family and start a better life.
Part of Andy’s new life includes opening up a free clinic in Everwood’s old train station, much to the dismay of the town’s current (and only) physician, Dr. Abbott (Tom Amandes). The town flocks to Andy’s new practice, and he soon finds comfort in caring for the small town citizens. More important to Andy is the fact that he truly does have more time for his children; though the majority of the town visits his clinic, he still has plenty of time to enjoy an evening with Delia after her day at school. While Andy seems to be happy with his new life in Everwood, the change doesn’t seem to sit well with his 15-year-old son, Ephram.
In addition to dealing with his mother’s death, Ephram is also thrust into a new high school (County High- which is the only high school in the entire town) and is forced to make new friends amongst groups of people that have already been friends since elementary school. Most of the students ignore Ephram completely, except for Amy Abbott (Emily VanCamp), the school’s most popular, and beautiful girl. Ephram can’t seem to figure out why such a girl would be interested in him, until a few episodes into the series reveals that Amy’s boyfriend, Colin Hart (Mike Erwin), has been in a coma for four months, and Amy believes that by befriending Ephram, his father might be able to work on Colin and bring him out of the coma. Despite all this, Ephram must deal with the typical issues that come with adolescence as well as attending such routine things, like his piano lessons (a few episodes into the series uncovers the fact that Ephram is a piano prodigy).
Both Treat Williams and Gregory Smith play their roles perfectly. Williams (Hair, Hollywood Ending, etc.) is both endearing and believable in his role of Andy. During the beginning of the series, we are presented with a man filled with regret for missing his children’s upbringing and sorrow for the loss of his wife. William’s mourning is truly convincing; episodes in which Andy has flashbacks of memories with his wife are truly heartbreaking. Smith (Small Soilders) has perfected the teen angst role, but even more so, has added depth into what could easily be a one dimensional character. Though we see Ephram deal with the stereo-typical emotions of a teenage boy, Smith also brings compassion and heart into his role. His feelings for Amy are deep despite the fact that she may or may not be using him, his confusion and anger towards his dad runs deeper than the typical “I hate my parents” mentality of a boy his age, and even the way that he cares for his younger sister makes his character loveable. Williams and Smith also have amazing chemistry together on screen; Ephram and Andy have plenty of arguments during the first season, and each one seems realistic and as though you’re actually looking on in a father and son’s heated discussion.
The supporting cast also does a terrific job. Emily VanCamp’s portrayal of Amy is flawless; half of the series is spent loathing her for her backstabbing treatment of Ephram, while the other half is spent feeling sorry for her and her comatose boyfriend. Debra Mooney plays Andy’s blunt and loveable nurse, Edna, while John Beasley (Sum Of All Fears) plays her kind-hearted husband, Irv (Beasley often serves as the series’ narrator; some of his opening and closing monologues are some of the best I’ve ever heard). Vivien Cardone (A Beautiful Mind) plays the adorable tomboy, Delia, and despite her young age (only 9 when the show began airing) can easily be put in a class with the veteran actors on the show. Tom Amandes, as Dr. Abbott, provides a healthy does of comic relief, while Stephanie Niznik plays Andy’s level-headed neighbor, Nina Feeney, who always has plenty of apt parenting advice.
The writers (Rina Mimoun, Michael Green, etc.) should also be commended; though the show is only an hour long, each episode is packed with intriguing (and often highly emotional, hence my title) plot lines. Within the first half hour of the pilot you’ll truly begin to feel attached to the characters and genuinely care about their lives. Watching Andy struggle with the death of his wife, or seeing how hard it is for Ephram to adapt to his new life is literally heartbreaking, and I dare you to watch the show without a box of Kleenex handy. Creator Greg Berlanti (who also created Dawson’s Creek) crafted a wonderful show with remarkably realistic characters. And even though the subject matter is often quite dark (when a show begins with a the death of a nine-year-old’s mother, it’s easy to say that it’s not a comedy), director Martha Mitchell also does a terrific job of blending the drama in with more lighthearted fare (like the witty banter between Andy and Dr. Abbott, or the adventures of Amy’s dim-witted older brother, Bright (Chris Pratt)).
The boxed DVD set is also a treat; all 23 of the season’s episodes are divided onto 6 disks and packaged in a collectable case. Enclosed in the case is a booklet detailing each episode with a short synopsis and pictures from the episode. There are also special features on the DVD, including commentary on some of the show’s pivotal episodes, a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, and Greg-and-Emily Cam, a fun behind the scenes look at the show through the eyes of Smith and VanCamp.
Everwood is quite honestly one of the best television shows I’ve ever seen. The characters and plot lines are captivating, and I can’t ever remember being this emotionally invested in a TV show. Though the series was cancelled due to a “lack of interest”, Everwood will always live on in the heart of its fans.