Friday, July 29, 2016

Everwood "Pro Choice" Review

“Pro Choice” has so much melodrama. I guess every episode of Everwood has melodrama, but it’s not as annoying as it is in this episode.

For instance, Ephram passive-aggressively bullied Reid until Reid decided dating Amy wasn’t worth it. Ephram had a great mini-run as a chill, affable guy too, but the writers couldn’t let it continue. Ephram’s then pulled into Andy’s subplot involving a father and daughter, who had a falling out over a family secret. Might those two guest characters mirror the Brown boys? The daughter had a twin, born without kidneys, who died three days after receiving her sister’s kidney. It ruined their family. She can’t forgive him for keeping that history a secret from her. See how melodramatic that is?

Andy brought Ephram in as proof that one may forgive even the worst parents. By this point in the episode, Ephram realized he was a dick to Reid because of his feelings for Amy. So, he’s in a regretful, reflective, and contrite state of mind; however, he never told Reid he changed his mind. Writers must plant drama mines to trigger in later episodes. Ephram forgave Andy for his own melodramatic secret keeping.

The other major melodrama involved the death of Hannah’s father because it forced Hannah to realize she chose to move away because she couldn’t deal with the sickness and suffering. Later, she realized she must move home to be with her mother. It causes shock waves in the Abbott household and sets up the emotional center of “So Long, Farewell”. The subplot also involved a clueless Bright whose unable to be there for her—until he is with a story about a hole puncher. He’s trying to learn how to be a boyfriend without the sex, and he feels weird he tried to feel her up moments before his girlfriend received the worst news of her life.

Jake’s back to being terribly busy by his work despite having time to sit with Andy for a counseling session. Perhaps the writers didn’t want a constant, unrelenting wave of stressed out and despairing Jake. He’s still cheerful enough to run across the street after Nina passive-aggressively hangs up on him. That won’t last.

“Pro Choice” and “So Long, Farewell” make up a two-parter that’s among the worst Everwood episodes in the series. So much for those good early season vibes.

Barbie Kligman wrote the episode. David Paymer directed it.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Everwood "Free Fall" Review

TheWB’s promo for “Free Fall” teased the Jake/Andy couples therapy storyline eleven years ago as if that would draw more viewers during Everwood’s low-rated fourth season. It didn’t. The DVD booklet description of “Free Fall” highlighted the couples therapy story. I understand why. It’s zany, silly, and unexpected “comedy” in that lame WB kind of way. Their promo department loved the quirky 30-second promo. If a viewer happened to see an ANGEL promo and didn’t know the show existed until that promo, the viewer would’ve thought ANGEL followed young, hip Los Angeles transplants in a retro hotel having twenty-something adventures, maybe like John August’s short-lived DC. Every show got the 30 second quirky promo. “Next week on TheWB Tuesday, Buffy has faced vampires and demons but she’s never faced…HER FIRST COLLEGE ROOMMATE” and then what follows are various snippets of Buffy being annoyed by her roommate.

Nina and Andy still aren’t friends because of Jake, though the two already fixed their friendship. Nina can’t spend the same time she used to with the Browns because of Jake’s antipathy towards Andy. It’s the kind of inane storytelling a twenty-two-episode season can’t avoid. Every little piece of drama must be carved out and served to its glass-eyed drooling audience, which is why Jake and Andy consent to couples therapy with a friend of Nina’s friend.

Naturally, the issue isn’t even the kiss so much as what Andy represents. The cracks that appeared in Jake in “Connect Four” became wider. The writers glossed over Jake’s real issue: it was the kiss and the man. The kiss signified to him that Nina might’ve, for a moment, wanted what Jake is not. He is not Andy Brown. Jake’s story moves beyond the kiss and Andy Brown issues, though, and it’ll be terrible.

Ephram’s mentorship of Kyle continued with an adventure into the mountains where Kyle learned to relate to other human beings. Again, twenty-two episode seasons mandate slow reveals, so Kyle drops a bunch of hints about what bugs him. It’s clear he doesn’t fit in, and he’s mad at the world because his Dad abandoned him and his Mom can’t afford his future. Also, his only friend is Ephram, and he, Kyle, has no interest in a girlfriend. If you think Kyle couldn’t get more angsty, you wait. The parallels between the characters became clearer, if they weren’t already clear. They were, but, again, twenty-two episode seasons, you know? Both boys lost a parent, one to death and the other to another woman. Both are prodigies. Yada yada. For Ephram, the mission of their day adventure is two-fold. He wants to help Kyle afford to pay for the Julliard application fee, and he doesn’t want to think about Amy dating another guy.

Amy’s thing with Reid’s about as hot as a shopping for antique spoons. There’s an important little beat when Reid passes a classmate. His constant stress about studying is also a thing. The episode’s title “Free Fall” is a misnomer. Well, two characters are in free-fall, though no one knows it, but it’s more of a prelude to a free-fall in a way because the writers wanted to be coy about the lives of Reid and Jake going to shit. Rose is shoehorned into the free-fall thing, but she merely wants to take time to figure out her next step after losing the mayoral race. They’ll go to Africa next. From there, they’ll have their next significant arc, complete with annoying melodrama.

Nancy Won wrote the episode. Arvin Brown directed.

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.

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 in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.