Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 5th, 2009
It’s the end of the October Road for Nick and the gang. If you want to blame anyone, there’s plenty to go around here. First of all, the writers’ strike didn’t do anyone any favors by delivering only a 6 season first year. While the cast was made up of good actors, there is never any kind of chemistry between them. They look like actors thrown together because they have to be. The writing is uneven. Did anyone ever really plan out what this show was really about? There are fans; every show has some. But there was never enough to make this one fly at all. Blame me, if you like, for not being kind to the first release and repeating those same criticisms here. The truth is, it was never a good show, and a DVD release isn’t going to change that. You do get to see all of the episodes here. At last count, ABC was not necessarily planning to air all of the completed episodes. That makes it a good buy for the fans. If all 6 of you pool your money, maybe you can share one set.
Enter Nick Garrett. He’s a writer who has published a hugely successful best selling novel. It’s been made into a major film, and busty women approach him in clubs to tell him how much it has affected their lives. The audio version is read by Johnny Depp. You would think Nick has it made. The trouble is that Nick doesn’t have a clue how to begin to write his next book. His solution is to take a trip back home to the places that inspired the first book. His hope is to make a quick hit and run visit, but he ends up staying for a while. Nick soon discovers that you really can’t go home again. Everything and everyone changes, as Nick is finding out. Not everyone is happy about how they feel they might have been portrayed in the novel, and Nick might even have a son. If this is starting to sound a bit like a soap opera, then you have October Road pegged.
So what about these characters? Nick is played by Bryan Greenburg, known mostly for his role in One Tree Hill. The lack of cohesion of the series might work to Greenburg’s advantage, as his character is intended to be uneven and somewhat out of the loop. This does not work for the other actors/characters. Laura Peppin is perhaps the best performer in the group, as she brings genuine life to the character of Hannah Daniels, Nick’s old flame and mother to his likely 10 year old son. Slade Pierce plays the son, Sam, who displays a lot of wit and charm better suited for a comedy series. Odette Yustman plays the third leg of the love triangle and appears uncomfortable almost every moment she’s on the screen. The cast of odd buddies, like the kid, belong in a sit-com, which might have been the better path to take with this material. In reality, this is merely Friends in a one hour drama.
Each episode of October Road is presented in a letterbox 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The picture is very average in almost every respect. Colors are sometimes vibrant, particularly the reds and yellows, but this is more than offset by the flat flesh tones and weak black levels. The sharpness is disappointingly flat, with weak detail almost unheard of in such a recent production. Again, I get the feeling all of this was rushed.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 is almost unnecessary, as almost everything here is music and dialog. The music is a mix of 70’s and 80’s tunes with the clarity of a typical radio broadcast, never anything dynamic or bright. It’s background stuff only. You can hear everything clearly, which is about the best thing I can say for yet another average at best effort.
The 13 episodes and features are contained on a 3 disc set with the extras on the last disc.
Bumps In The Road: (2:54) Bloopers
The Scenic Route – A Behind The Scenes Tour: (6:06) The actors take you on a tour of the places their characters inhabit. The show moved from Atlanta to Hollywood this year, but all of the sets made the trip intact.
Road’s End – The Final Chapter: (9:52) This was a very cool thing to do for the fans. They filmed a 10 minute coda to the series that answers all of the burning questions like who ends up with who and the unveiling of Sam’s father.
That 10 minute coda is the biggest reason for fans to buy the set. It was a very cool thing to do, and while it’s not very flashy and obviously quickly thrown together, you can at least say goodbye to these characters. Most of your questions will get answered, and nearly the entire cast returned for the short sendoff. I know I haven’t been kind to the show in general, and it likely won’t be missed by many. But, they did do right by the folks who did support them with this DVD set. “That pizza girl ain’t the only one who delivers.”