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Friday, July 22, 2016

Everwood "Connect Four" Review

Two season one episodes took Andy and Ephram into the wilderness. Ephram wanted to help a lost deer find his home in “Deer God.” In “Fear Itself” Irv took Andy and Ephram to his cabin. Both times father and son fought. Each episode had an emotional apotheosis for father and son. Ephram tearfully revealed how much he missed home and his mom in “Deer God.” Ephram, then, nearly died in “Fear Itself” after taking Irv’s boat out on the lake.

“Connect Four” closed the unofficial nature trilogy for the Brown boys. Andy agreed to go with Harold and Bright for weekend camping because he wanted to spend time with Ephram. Andy decided to play the weekend cool with his son because Delia suggested he play it cool. So, there’s no near-death or moments of emotional breakdown. Their one scene takes place at the campfire and shows the shape of their relationship to come, which non-dramatic, free, and honest.  Andy learned about Kyle, Ephram’s Ephram-like piano student (who gets his own father issues backstory near the end of the episode), and Andy learned why Ephram returned home. He still loves Amy.

What follows their conversation back on the homestead is a short scene at Sam’s where Andy overhears Amy tell Hannah about the kiss she shared with Reid. Treat put on the saddest face for Andy as he left the shop. It’s an unintentional comical scene.

The Abbott boys barely interact in the mountains because Tom Amandes directed the episode. Harold and Bright have had a fraught relationship, but Bright’s too preoccupied deciding whether or not he wants to continue dating his premarital believing girlfriend. In their lone scene together, Bright’s honest with his father about not liking to camp as much anymore. Harold, a bit sad and disappointed, listens to his son’s wants and ends the getaway early. Ephram inspired Bright to tell his dad what he wants, but following Ephram’s advice about father-son relations is like following Bing-Bong through the abstract thought “short cut.”

Amy’s crush on Reid resurfaced in a Halloween themed storyline, Everwood’s only Halloween themed story in the entire series. He seemed taken in “Put on a Happy Face”, what with greeting the girl in the library with a kiss and then walking off with her with his arm around her shoulder, but what do I know? Reid now thinks Amy pretty and kissable because his roommate, Ephram, Amy’s greatest love, admitted he still loves her.

Edna seems to be the subject of the C story, but it’s more about Jake and his increasing stress. Edna contributed to his stress by refusing to learn new things and acquire new certifications, but Jake’s working non-stop. Edna urged him to spend a Sunday in the park with Sam or be home for dinner with Nina. Everwood plays loose with time. Night and day goes by in the mountains during Amy’s bad night as a dead scarecrow in a haunted house, so one isn’t sure how much time passed between “Pieces of Me” and “Connect Four” but Jake was all about nightly dinner with Nina to Hannah. Edna, after agreeing to learn new things to help the practice, left Jake in his office, still drowning in paperwork.

Season four’s doing well by the end of “Connect Four.” It’s the second great episode in a row, which puts season three further and further into the dim past where it has a place alongside the last four seasons of HIMYM and the final two seasons of Dawson’s Creek.


David Hudgins wrote the episode. Tom Amandes directed it, and it was the second and last episode of the series he directed. He directed one episode of the Berlanti produced series, Brothers and Sisters, which starred Emily Vancamp in later seasons, and he directed two episodes of The CW’s WB-esque small town quirky series Hart of Dixie.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Everwood "Pieces of Me" Review

“Connect Four” always stood out in my mind as the first great episode of Everwood’s final season, but it’s really the only episode that sticks out in my mind from the season, besides the final trio of episodes. Everwood’s fourth season isn’t bad. It’s better than season three and probably better than the second season. The Josh Reims penned “Pieces of Me” is a great episode full of little moments and strong stories throughout. Now I remember that Josh Reims was the Drew Goddard of Everwood’s fourth season.

This episode put the button on Rose’s mayoral career and her cancer. The town voted for a new mayor. Harold felt rankled by it because of the devotion his wife gave to them for nearly twenty years. Harold was quick to see the worst in Everwood’s citizens since his introduction in the “Pilot”, and they didn’t disappoint him by voting for a healthier, safer choice. At the beginning of the episode, Rose faced a scary, uncertain future. By the end, she faces an uncertain future, but she’s free from cancer. It’s not as scary. There’s a great moment when Harold asks his mother to campaign for Rose. Edna thought her son wanted to forget what faced him. He lashed out that he could never forget his wife’s cancer because he lived with it and cursed himself for not diagnosing it sooner. Wonderful stuff from Tom Amandes.

“Pieces of Me” introduced future bodybuilder Steven R. McQueen as an annoying teenaged piano prodigy named Kyle. Kyle is Ephram from season one, but worse and brattier. Ephram faced the piano for the first time since he sold it to fund his getaway trip to Europe. Playing it for the first time caused him to freak out on his young student, which prompted Amy, during their conversation at Sam’s about the freak out, to ask why Ephram lets the piano represent the nightmare situation with Madison, his kid, and his father. I didn’t understand why either. Piano had nothing to do with Andy paying off Madison to keep the pregnancy secret. Amy reminded Ephram that he loved piano before the drama, and that he still can love it. So, he returns to being Kyle’s teacher. The storyline’s greater purpose is to heal the central father/son relationship by giving Ephram the darling gift of perspective. His piano related trauma is but plot device.

The thematic tissue of the episode is memory. Who are we without the one thing that’s fundamental to our identities? Andy treated a man who didn’t want brain surgery for fear he’d lose his memory of surviving the Holocaust. Ephram feels sick around the piano, but he can’t live his life without it. There’s also the Rose storyline, plus a small Jake/Nina story that’s part of the tissue (Jake feels he only a piece in the Feeny home, without a defined place, but it leads to a comical end in which the two freak out upon realizing Hannah’s a teenager, though I remember that comical aside being that and nothing more).

The structure of “Pieces of Me” is great. Small asides inform one and even two of the major storylines in the episode. Delia had one scene about her Bat Mitzvah. She told Andy she wanted it. Andy sort of tried and failed to find a rabbi. The case of the week couple have 3 scenes total with him but those scenes help Andy realize why Delia needs her Bat Mitzvah. There’s smart writing economy throughout “Pieces of Me.” Fine episode.


Josh Reims wrote the episode. Michael Pavone directed.

Friday, July 15, 2016

2016 Summer Re-Watch: Everwood "Put on a Happy Face" Review

Amy started college in “Put on a Happy Face.” The episode starts with the clich├ęd college campus montage. Frisbees fly. Guys play hackey-sack. Clubs line the quad. The central character looks around like he or she is in a whole new world. Soon, that character feels out of place because classes are harder, making friends is hard, and it’s an unfamiliar world. I needed a semester to adjust after transferring from a community college to a university, so Amy does represent a true type of college students. Whatever the show, though, one character experiences the harsh new reality of college before returning to what’s comfortable. Who does Joey call in “The Bostonians”? Dawson. Who does Amy find at a midnight showing of Batman Begins? Ephram.

Ephram, too, wants a new identity. He attends a party to start his life as a fun guy, but he ends up drinking soda and bailing for the Batman movie. You are who you are. Bright’s and Hannah’s story involves that party. Bright loves parties. Hannah doesn’t. At the party, Bright was an ass, and Hannah acted like everything was okay, when it wasn’t. She put on that happy face because she doesn’t want to lose Bright. Amy started to re-discover that who she feels best and most comfortable with is Ephram. Those two are their best selves with each other.

Andy’s story is light. He wants to restore his friendship with Nina. They seemed fine in “The Next Step”. Jake’s the problem because he didn’t like Andy trying to break up his relationship, which is fair. Andy is far from the perfect protagonist. He’s not long removed from his affair with the wife of a paralyzed man. The Nina story doesn’t emphasize that morally grey side of his though. It emphasizes the friendship. They were wonderful friends. How do they get back to that? It’s hard. They can’t really go back to the way it was. They’ll find their way to how it will be.

The strongest part of the episode belongs to Rose and Harold. Rose feels happy her marriage feels like a marriage again.  Harold admitted to Andy he detached a little during her sickness as a way to protect him in case the worst happened. Andy suggested Harold have a conversation about what he feels with Rose, but Harold declines in the moment because he understands it’s more than that. Their story this season is beyond sex and fading physical passions. It’s about what’s next. They raised their children. What’s next?

Season 4’s first two episodes tied off season three. “Put on a Happy Face” sets up the arcs our favorite characters. They’re all trying to figure out what’s next and who they are. Those questions rarely fade from one’s life. But they will—with each other.


Tom Garrigus wrote the episode. David Paymer directed.

Monday, July 11, 2016

2016 Summer Re-watch: Everwood "The Next Step" Review

“The Next Step” concludes the annoying and intolerable Ephram characterization. Ephram, near the end of season three, became a most insufferable character. He acted passively and spitefully after he learned what happened with Madison and his baby. He gave up his future to spite his father. He broke up with Amy as part of his self-destructive streak. The Madison baby arc was the worst plot choice in the series, a decision that rippled for too long and would’ve lingered into season five if The CW renewed it. It was a plot device to shake up the core of the show. Andy and Ephram finally reached the place Andy imagined they’d reach when he moved his children to Everwood. “A Mountain Town” concludes with father and son at one. Ephram found the best kind of love with Amy in season three. The characters were happy. No more drama or conflict. The Madison/Andy/Ephram plot was the worst plot contrivance too--an easy way to detonate the natural flow of Everwood’s story, because TV, for all its many virtues, is driven by advertising money. It’s a commodity.

Ephram’s still a dick for most of the episode. His insufferable characterization had to gradually disappear, even though few fans would’ve protested if Ephram returned free from what made him the worst at the end of season three. Ephram asked Andy to pay for his living expenses because Andy’s decision in “The Day is Done” cost Ephram Julliard. Andy didn’t want their relationship to begin anew with guilt. Later, Andy experienced an epiphany about finding balance in his during during his conversation with Harold about doing surgery for five hours every Monday, i.e. being the father he should’ve been, surgery and all, in New York.

“The Next Step” deals with the next step: change, moving on, and growth. Ephram and Andy can’t continue fighting. Their fighting alienates Delia. The show couldn’t continue to write them that way. It had to move away from the ripples of the Madison story in season three. So, this episode ties the last loose thread from the end of last season. Andy and Ephram find a balance. Ephram is given freedom in exchange for daily family dinners (and $50). Ephram, in a symbolic gesture that the past is the past, leaves the check Andy gave him in the refrigerator. As Andy hopes to find the balance he failed to find in New York by taking up surgery in between his role as family doctor and father, Ephram’s open to finding a balance in his relationship to Andy that won’t dismantle the Brown family. In short, Ephram’s insufferable qualities leave him at the end of “The Next Step.”

The other loose thread from season three was Amy and Ephram. They were the destined couple since episode one, the Dawson and Joey, the Matt Saracen and Julie Taylor, and destined couples don’t stay together for the entirety of a series. There’s no anguish. Their relationship in season three reminded me of Pacey’s and Joey’s. They were great together, they broke up for no reason besides plot contrivance, and then the writers needed to find any reason to keep them separate in season four. Amy explained to Ephram, in Sam’s, that she felt too hurt by how it ended between them last season to think about starting where they left off.

The Bright/Hannah relationship, in its early stage, annoys me. I never gave a whit about their coupling. They can be cute, as evidenced in some season three scenes, and in their honest conversation at the carnival, but Hannah’s neurosis combined with the neurotic hurdles in their relationship (such as the three-dates-and-out misunderstanding) grates. Bright’s easy and simple perspective of things balances the pairing, they even out, and I become indifferent about them.

“The Next Step” is better than the premiere, which means little because it’s an ordinary episode. Andy’s look after he receives the wine bottle from Ephram, and the Amy/Ephram conversation are the most touching parts in the episode.


Anna Fricke wrote the episode. Perry Lang directed.

Friday, July 8, 2016

2016 Summer Re-Watch: Everwood "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" Review

Fourth seasons of TV shows are a mixed bag. By season four, a show has grown beyond the initial vision of the creator and/or the show runner. Changes in setting inevitably occur in the fourth season. Everwood in season four is different from its magical first season. Greg Berlanti created a show about a grieving doctor, broken by his wife’s death, making a great change in his life, to re-locate his family to the place his wife imagined she’d be when she died in an attempt, to reconcile with the son he lost touch with as a busy New York City brain surgeon. Andy Brown moved to find his heart, his son’s heart, and to find a replacement for his family’s heart, something to fill the hole Julia left in their lives, but he also found a Hart, Colin Hart, Everwood’s center, their golden boy, who he fixed once but couldn’t fix twice. If he saved him a second time, the story of Everwood would’ve been completed. The TV industry doesn’t let shows end so soon.

Everwood, of course, continued for three more seasons. Season two dealt with the effect of Colin Hart’s loss on the town, on Amy, and on Andy, but it moved away from the central theme of season one, which was the loss of one’s center and the hope to regain it. Greg Berlanti and his writers needed to find new depths in the story of Everwood. They found that depth in Bright, Rose, Ephram’s first love, Amy’s depression, and they, the writers, gradually moved beyond the loss of Colin Hart. Everwood’s second major theme is restoration and hope: the hope to love again after loss, and the hope to restore damaged or broken relationships. Seasons three and four focus on those prominent themes. Amy and Ephram have their chance in the third season, Andy experiences a meaningful romantic relationship since Julia’s death, and Nina finds a love after her marriage ended. Everwood’s different in season four, not in a bad way, but in a way that’s unique to television: it captures how it is to live.

The build to “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” concerned the mysterious marriage teased in the teaser. Rina Mimoun revealed that a wedding would happen in the premiere to spark speculation about a marriage between Nina and Andy, who were last seen kissing in “Where The Heart Is”. Edna and Irv were the mysterious couple renewing their vows, a welcome development after their discord in season three.

The final Everwood premiere primarily concerns the fallout from the kiss between Andy and Nina. Andy wanted their kiss to be the foundation upon which they built a life together. Nina did not know what she wanted, so she stalled by going to Hawaii with Jake and Sam. Andy needs the whole episode to accept his role in her life. She won’t leave Jake after finding stability with him. Harold told Andy he needed to accept his humiliation and disappointment if it meant remaining close with the woman he loved, because if he broke their friendship, she’d never have the chance to sort out whom she wanted.

Of course, the love triangle’s a conventional trite plot to delay their inevitable union. Everwood often embraced the tempting plot machinations of night soaps. “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” hasn’t aged well in ten years. The scenes in which Nina tells her side of the story to Edna and Andy tells his side to Harold provides the viewer with the whole story worked on first viewing, even though it’s a cheap exposition device, but it’s a slog to re-watch (and re-re-watch).

The writers used sudden weeks-long trips to other cities and countries to justify why the characters didn’t deal with numerous issues during the time-jump. Nina left for Hawaii after the kiss. Andy left for Mexico before Nina returned. Hannah, who wanted to define her relationship to Bright, left for Minnesota (or a cruise) to be with her mother, which meant they never discussed what their kiss meant. No character knows where Ephram went because he only sent postcards to Delia. There’s a lot tropey and unnecessary plot stalling that makes this premiere easy to skip if you ever want to re-watch season four.

“A Kiss to Build a Dream On” has the typical premiere season-building components. Amy crushes on a new character named Reid, a medical student and potential roommate of Bright’s, who may or may not be gay. Bright told Reid he wanted to save the spare bedroom for whenever Ephram got his head together and came home. A Bright/Reid/Ephram triad sets up a quasi-triangle for Reid, Ephram, and Amy. The writers had their triangles mapped. Meanwhile, Rose completed chemo, which took her away from season three’s late cancer storyline.

Season premieres for network television haven’t changed in ten years. They’re wasteful episodes full of information that could be intuited by the audience in a couple lines of dialogue in a more engaging episode. A season’s second episode always improves on the premiere, because the premiere is, often, a slumbering bore.


Rina Mimoun wrote the episode. Arvin Brown directed.

About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot. I write regular posts about Grimm & The Vampire Diaries.