Saturday, October 10, 2015

Notes About Everwood Season 3, Part 1 (Episodes 1-7)

The villains at ABC Family, soon to be Freeform (what?) in January, replaced Buffy and Dawson's Creek repeats with yet more Boy Meets World repeats. I watched the complete series of Boy Meets World more than a person should. Buffy's a precious metal, though, and Dawson's Creek is timeless soapy nonsense. The change in schedule really messed up my series of Dawson's Creek season four posts. No one would know my thoughts about the very special ecstasy episode or Harry Shearer's cameo in the school prank episode. I scrambled to replace it. Okay, "scrambled" is a bit much. I like writing about old TV shows I like. I never finished my rewatch posts about Everwood. The last one posted in September 2012. The thought of writing separate 1,000 word posts about season 3 of Everwood didn't appeal to me; however, writing little bits about each episode appealed to me. Samuel Johnson's Notes to Shakespeare partly inspired me as well as Previously TV's Buffy re-watch diary. I gave it a shot with Dawson's Creek and quite liked it. The villains, as I already mentioned, took away the repeats from me and four other people. I own the rest of Everwood. I'd like to finish my rewatch nonsense with Everwood. So, I wrote little bits about each episode, cut the word count of individual posts for each episode by 3,000, and I think it works. 

NOTES ABOUT SEASON THREE OF EVERWOOD, PART 1 (EPISODES 1-7)

#301 & #302-“For Every Action…” “…There Is A Reaction”

-Andy Brown made a promise he never should’ve made at the end of season one. His promise resulted in Colin Hart’s death. Colin’s death fractured the town, broke Amy apart, and obliterated the Hart family. Ephram told Andy in “The Last of Summer” that he should’ve been honest with him, Ephram, about what Andy promised Colin. Andy Brown made a choice he never should’ve made at the end of season two. Madison came to him in his office, confessed her pregnancy with Ephram’s baby, and left town after Andy told her to, all expenses paid if she promised not to tell Ephram, which she indeed promised. Instead of death, the choice involved life. A year prior Ephram told his dad the greatest mistake he made was not being honest with hm. Andy, ol’ beardy, decided against honesty for the second time, for his son’s sake. Ephram and Amy figured it out and decided to try a relationship. Andy reasoned his son lost his mother, thereby losing a piece of innocence, his childhood, opting not to take away a chance with Amy because he impregnated his ex-girlfriend. Terribly soapy, right? Story wise, the nonsense works. Season two acts as a reverse to season one. Season three’s kind of its own thing. Greg Berlanti ended his daily involvement in the series. Rina Mimoun replaced him as show runner. Irv’s narrations ended. In these episodes, the narration of Andy, Delia, Bright, and Amy replace Irv in the form of various letters written to Ephram, who’s studying in Julliard’s summer program. Two things act as the inciting incidents: Madison stops accepting Andy’s bribery to keep away and Ephram receives a letter from an unknown person. Andy is stricken with paranoia. Ephram’s a miserable teenager for the entirety of the episode. The secondary characters feel the effects of what Andy and Ephram won’t say, by ideas and wrong impressions, self-doubt and insecurity.

Andy and Ephram spend much of the 88 minutes clueless about the other’s behavior. Andy thinks Madison told Ephram. Ephram hates his Dad hiding secrets from him. Ephram behaves dickishly towards Delia. Amy feels worried Ephram will break up with her. He doesn’t answer her calls or instant message her. He pulled away from her because he performed poorly in the summer program, meaning he needs to practice double the time to secure a music scholarship to Julliard next fall, and he doesn’t think he’ll have time to be a boyfriend to Amy when his father, his sister, his best friend, and well that’s it, all need him. Amy overwhelms her schedule when Ephram decides to declutter his schedule so that he can spend time with his girl, his Amy. Madison froze Andy in fear. Any exchange between father and son essentially reveals what Andy did, but Ephram’s self-absorbed in his music failures to notice Andy made a stupid, stupid decision in May.

The first and second episodes of season three threaten to take away the two aspects of the show at its heart. First is the relationship between Andy and Ephram. The second is the romantic relationship between Amy and Ephram. Neither ends. Not yet.

Andy learned what bothered Ephram from Harold. Harold, through Amy, learned Ephram performed poorly in the Julliard summer program. Harold drove to Andy’s home, stood outside, and whispered the news to Andy. I consider the scene one of the greatest in TV history. I quoted the scene often to my friend, Bryan Jawn, for years. Treat Williams and Tom Amandes worked wonderfully together. The episodes show the clash of office preferences between the two doctors, now partners, after Harold’s malpractice/bagel thing in season two.

Amy and Ephram reconcile once they communicate. They’re happy, holding hands, a step away from skipping, until Nina emerged from her house with a wallflower by her side. Hannah! Yes, Nina introduced Hannah to Ephram, Amy, and the audience. Hannah has a tragic backstory, which won’t become an ongoing arc until after the writers integrate her into the fabric of the show. Amy and Ephram look bummed to meet her, for selfish reasons. They fall into Erich Fromm’s immature love definition. Love’s exclusive to them and them alone. They wanted the year for themselves. Hannah dampened that dream. Ephram also apologized to Delia, and Delia told him he can’t be an ass, and that she doesn’t take her bad mood out on others.

What else? The writers introduced Dr. Jake Hartman, played by Scott Wolf. Harold’s fooled by Hartman’s good looks and athletic interests, unaware Hartman’s Everwood’s new doctor. Jake bought the Abbott practice. Jake’s the latest character to lead the rest of Everwood’s citizens around like bovine. Jake Hartman’s a frustrating character for me. I don’t know how defined his character was besides ‘early antagonist to Harold,’ because he goes every which way in the next forty episodes.

#303-“Staking Claim”

I have a soft spot for “Staking Claim.” Season three’s mostly a bad memory. The Anne Heche arc essentially destroyed the series for me for several months. It doesn’t start until the reader scrolls a little bit down. Anyway, my rock solid heart melts and resolves itself into a dew when Amy reacts to Hannah’s observation about Ephram loving Amy. It’s the sweetest, friends and well-wishers. Emily Vancamp’s look is so dear, tender, and enchanting, as if the thought’s so magical for Amy she can’t think it exists lest she wake up from a dream and realizes it doesn’t exist. The episode ended with the first “I love you” between Amy and Ephram as The Shins song about “I love you” played. Amy wondered about the riddle of human relationships prior to her “I love you.” A person will act like he or she doesn’t like someone when he or she does. A person will act like he or she likes someone when he or she hates that someone. Amy trailed off when she mentioned what people do when they love someone.

I liked to see myself in TV characters as a teenager (Ephram and goddamn Dawson Leery). Ephram and Amy paralleled my high school experience. They were juniors when I was a junior, and seniors when I was a senior. I knew a girl who I thought of as my Amy. We didn’t have a season three, though. We got as far as “Blind Faith.” Amy set up Hannah with Bright. She thought Hannah needed a good crush, because she didn’t want Ephram and Hannah to develop a bond that’d transcend friendliness. Rina Mimoun, at the Everwood reunion in 2014 at ATX, revealed she wanted to pair Ephram and Hannah. The writers didn’t because Greg Smith and Sarah Drew lacked chemistry. Ephram and Hannah together, combined with the regrettable Anne Heche arc, would’ve obliterated the series

Enough of young love, though. Edna left Andy’s practice for Jake because of her long-standing complicated relationship with her son. Neither doctor’s written admirably. Andy’s a myopic ass. Harold’s a blustering control freak. The scene in Jake’s office between Andy and Edna, though, redeems the errors of the story. Andy’s dismissal of Edna’s feeling throughout the episode was consistent with his character. (Andy’s not his best in this season.) He takes for granted what he has until what he has is gone. Change has come to Everwood. Irv no longer narrates. Edna, Andy’s first partner in Everwood, left him for a rival practice. Harold and Andy can’t remember when life was so simple a bowl of ice cream could resolve a bad day, a crisis of friendship, or family discord, after Andy mentioned Delia thought ice cream would fix the drama of fourth grade.

#304-“The Birds And The Batteries”

Ah, the vibrator episode. This episode repeats last week’s Ephram/Amy/Hannah stories. Instead of Amy pushing Hannah hard towards a crush, she pushes hard to become besties with Hannah. By the time Hannah’s ready to accept Amy’s aggressive friendship push, Amy’s resigned to their destiny together as acquaintances. Ephram, meanwhile, overthinks not saying “I love you” first to Amy, writes a letter, doesn’t want to hand Amy the letter, eventually does, and yeah, the Ephram letter and Hannah stories converge and then harmoniously resolve. It’s all superfluous.

The Bright vs. Parents storyline ticks up. Bright’s arc in the first nine or so episodes is a drag. He’s Eric Matthews in season four of Boy Meets World, except more capable of stupid behavior. Bright’s settling after colleges passed on him. He works, parties, sleeps around, sleeps, and repeats the process. Harold hates it. Rose weakly supports her son, but that’ll end soon. The Bright arc and the impending Anne Heche storyline were misguided. All one can type is “Blah.”

The vibrator story ties together Nina’s representation as a sexual being, Andy’s longing for Julia, and a man that doesn’t want heart surgery until his wife passes from cancer in six weeks. Everwood’s writers liked to push taboo issues into primetime television. The cast and crew cited “Episode 20” as a favorite because they did it in Utah. The vibrator story attempts to open up sexual discussions between parents and children, but it doesn’t happen. TheWB or Standards & Practices didn’t allow “masturbation” to be used. Andy’s mean remarks to Nina about her sexuality are resolved with a present and “I do see you. You look very pretty today.” Maybe the writers wanted only to spark the discussion. The episode ends as Andy and Nina begin to explain sex to Delia.

#305-“Sacrifice”

How many TV shows ended at an organic conclusion? The X Files continued for two years after the star displayed little interest in continuing. Does NCIS need 27 seasons? Everwood’s natural ending was “Home.” “The Last of Summer” is the epilogue. Andy couldn’t save Colin twice, but he had what he didn’t before he moved to Everwood: his family, a bond, a fulfilling life apart from surgery. He reconciled with his son. If Everwood’s citizens wouldn’t welcome Andy back into their lives, he had that. Network executives will keep a TV show running until it no longer works financially. Fans, also, don’t want their favorite shows to end. A decade ago I didn’t want Everwood to end. Every time I re-watch “Sacrifice” I wonder why I wanted it to continue. The story of Everwood ended in the season two premiere. This episode’s one of my least favorite of the series. It sets up Andy’s latest miracle, his latest folly as a human (not to mention the impending Madison disaster), while Bright and Ephram decide to take a break from their friendship, and Nina/Jake have a bad date. None of it’s good. TV’s cool because it’s a Protean thing. It changes, morphs, from beginning to end. Fans expect a multi-season show to satisfy them despite the impossibility of the dream. The show, at one time, ended when it should have, but it continued. So, “Sacrifice” existed.

#306-“Shoot The Moon”

Of course, “Shoot The Moon” follows “Sacrifice” and it’s really good. Its flaws include Andy acting the role of the ass for a stretch, more Amanda/John/Andy nonsense, but the a lot of the story’s rooted in the heart of the series. Colin, Amy revealed to her father, influences her choices about college a lot. Ephram’s scared he’ll follow his father into a possessed life of music in which he forgets everything but music. I love that Amy remembers Colin in the bliss of her new love with Amy and that Ephram remembers the catalytic role his mother played in his father’s transformation. The story’s centered on Amy and Ephram figuring out their futures without heeding to their respective fathers’ expectations. The ending reflects Ephram’s uncertainty about his life and his relationship. He’s not sure where he fits, where Amy will fit when he finds where he fits, which means mailing the Princeton application protects her. The Princeton application doesn’t cause dramatic scenes of melodrama in the last.

Harold’s scene with Ephram is a top 10 scene for me in Everwood. Those characters rarely interacted meaningfully. Harold’s story about his failed music ambitions, his observations about the genius father and son don’t recognize in themselves or each other, and the thematic poem suggestion that ties into end of the episode narration is some of the best writing of the season until the Rose arc and the post-Madison arc. Harold defines himself through his limitations though he’s a good doctor, a good father, and a good husband. Ephram doesn’t see in Harold a possibility of his future, but I wish he had. It would have juxtaposed the music room scene between Andy and Ephram at A&M. Michael Green was one of Everwood’s best writers.

#307-“Best Laid Plans”

“No Sure Thing” last season dealt with issues of teenage sexual intercourse. “Best Laid Plans” is the sequel. The episode darts between cutesy and after school special. Everwood’s writers portrayed tough issues sans preachy dialogue. Andy’s selfishly motivated by what happened to Ephram because of Madison despite Ephram’s ignorance to it. Harold doesn’t like to think his little girl’s growing up. Amy and Ephram fought about his testing. There’s insecurity for Amy. Ephram has slowly become the most muted character in the show. I don’t know whether or not Gregory Smith changed how he played the character or if the producing director wanted it or Mimoun. He yelled at Andy, but it lacked the fire of the previous seasons. Ephram’s happy and generally content. Maybe that’s it. The slow burn, meanwhile, towards Jake and Nina continued, with the slower burn of Nina/Andy also burning. I had better memories of the episode from previous viewings. This time it mostly annoyed me, but I watched it at dawn after a mediocre sleep.


NEXT TIME: Guilty literally nearly eats a hole through Andy after the Amanda arc further devolves, and the young folk of Everwood have the perfect day.

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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 in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.