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.