Everwood_S2Everwood: The Complete Second Season (2009, Warner)
purchase from Amazon: DVD

After a long wait, Everwood fans can rejoice. Warner Video has finally released the complete second season of this beloved family series on DVD. Everwood, which ran on the WB for four seasons, was one of those rare television programs that capably dealt with the drama, humor and tragedy of both teenagers and adults, no small feat. In every sense of the word, this was a series about families and how they functioned and survived. Created by Greg Berlanti, who went on to guide Brothers & Sisters, Eli Stone and Dirty Sexy Money, the focus of this exceptional drama was the developing relationship between Dr. Andy Brown (a wonderful Treat Williams), a New York City neurosurgeon widower who uprooted his two children and moved them to a small Colorado town, and his teenage son, Ephram (Gregory Smith), who changes from a petulant teenager into a mature, upstanding young man before our eyes. Lest I forget, the third Brown family member is precocious Delia, played by the impressive Vivien Cardone; however, her status on the show is relegated mostly to supporting character status.

The second season of Everwood begins on a high (albeit sad) note with the conclusion to the season one cliffhanger: The fate of town golden boy, Colin (Mike Erwin), whose life Andy was trying to save with risky brain surgery. The final image of season one saw Dr. Brown entering a waiting room to announce Colin’s fate, then a quick fade to black. Ten minutes into the season two opener we learn that Colin has died. This sets the tone for the rest of the season. How the town reacts to this tragedy and how the townspeople treat Dr. Brown, a man whose practice is free to the public, drive a season of television that deals with sorrow, forgiveness and redemption.

One of the central storylines from season 2 is how Colin’s shocking death affects Amy Abbott (Emily VanCamp, now a regular on Brothers & Sisters), Colin’s girlfriend (and Ephram’s dream girl). Amy becomes clinically depressed and spirals out of control, running away from home, ditching school and falling in with a drug-dealing bad boy (Paul Wesley). For a show just coming off of its first season, it took great courage to tackle teenage depression and carefully play out this story arc for most of its year instead of wrapping things up in a couple of pat episodes. It is sad and uncomfortable to watch such a beloved character like Amy suffer and not find her way out of the darkness. VanCamp is such a fine young actress that taking the journey with her is worth your time.

Elsewhere in season 2, Andy falls in love for the first time since his wife’s death. The woman turns out to be Linda, the New Age sister of his nemesis, Dr. Harold Abbott (the brilliant Tom Amandes). Linda Abbott is played by Desperate Housewives star, Marcia Cross, minus any of the histrionics she brings to her other famous role. Linda has secrets she brings with her from time as a doctor in Africa and Andy must look into his heart to question how strong his love is for her. Cross and Williams worked nicely off of each other throughout the season.

At the same time, Ephram falls for Delia’s college aged babysitter, Madison (Sarah Lancaster of Chuck). Not only does Ephram lose his virginity, but he has his heart broken for the first time. As he did in season one, he seeks solace in his piano, the instrument that may be his ticket out of the small town of Everwood and provide him a career as a concert pianist. By season’s end, as Ephram and Amy have just begun seeing each other, he is accepted to Julliard for a summer program. Will their love last? We’ll only find out should Warner someday release season 3 on DVD (keep your fingers crossed).

Other bright spots of season 2 include watching Bright Abbott (Chris Pratt, hilarious here and also on Parks and Recreations) mature and take responsibility for his actions. Bright gets kicked off the football team for failing grades ad instead of using his best friend, Colin’s death as an excuse, he takes the hit and decides he’ll make it into college by studying his tail off or not at all. Additionally, Nina (Stephanie Niznik) must deal with messy divorce and a custody battle. As this drama unfolds, she leans on her friend and neighbor, Andy, a man she is slowly realizing she has feelings for.

Besides the season opener, standout episodes include: “Three Miners from Everwood” which uses flashbacks and the extraordinary talents of guest stars Beau Bridges and James Earle Jones to tell the stories of three ordinary citizens from Everwood who get trapped in a mine and how their lives are intertwined with the lives of our main characters; “Controlling Interest,” which deals with an star high school wrestler and his battle with bulimia; “Sick,” the episode that reveals Linda’s secret to her family and the town; and the season ending “The Day is Done” which resolves many of the seasons plotlines, but also does a fantastic job of setting up the next season.

As a package, Warner has done a nice job with Everwood: The Complete Second Season. The container is a durable housing of all six discs and the packaging is classy. Whereas the marketing department could have highlighted VanCamp or Cross on the cover to help sell the product, but kept Williams and Smith, the stars of the show, as the focal point. Although there are deleted scenes peppered throughout the 6 discs, there are no bonus features. This is a shame because Berlanti has repeatedly expressed in interviews how important Everwood was to his career and how much he loved the show. I’m surprised that there is not at least one commentary by him or executive producer Rina Mimoun, who was with the show through its four year run. Another disappointment is that many of the songs used in the original airings have been replaced due to contractual reasons. The music supervisors on Everwood took great pains to select songs that not only fit the mood of the scenes, but seemed to provide an additional voice to the characters. Why Warner, a very large corporation, couldn’t work out a deal with many of the artists for the box set is perplexing.

Still, don’t let these minor grievances prevent you from buying or renting the complete second season of Everwood. At a time when so many people bemoan the loss of quality family television (myself included), it’s a blessing that this show will live on now that the DVD’s are available to everyone.