Every now and then a writer gets stuck for what to write. As a reviewer it happens that I can watch a film or series, take pages of detailed notes and read everything I can get my hands on about the subject, but still when I sit down to my computer it’s just me and that flashy cursor, aptly named, for every writer has felt the curse as that incessant blinking blob continues to remind us we’ve got nothing. In the industry we have a highly technical term for this condition. We call it writer’s block. Sometimes I’ll try and get around it by telling a little story about myself and hope the reader won’t find out it’s just a stall.
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 effected 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.
October Road ran for only six episodes its first season and never really did get to hit its stride. None of this is helped by the fact that the show is terribly written. The pilot in particular is simply horrid. The story seems contrived and misses on almost every beat. From Nick’s point of view all of these characters are quite one dimensional, and while he is only too aware of how many of them have changed, we still see them through Nick’s tainted vision. The series is primarily about relationships, but in just six hours we are exposed to one tangled web of romantic triangles and buddies with stunted emotional growth. I get the impression these six episodes were rushed into production and on the air. To be fair, a full season might make all the difference in the world.
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 to the other actor/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 6 episodes and features are contained on a two disc set with the extras on the second disc.
Deleted Scenes: There are 6 scenes with an optional play all feature. Nothing earthshaking here.