My wife and I have gotten into a small discussion about October Road. A fellow writer has mentioned that this show is the natural progression of shows like Gilmore Girls, where you’ve got young twenty and thirty somethings living in an idyllic setting, somewhere in the Northeast, as they take in the residents of the town they used to spurn. I think my wife likes it in that vein. Me? Not so much.
October Road was helped along to TV by Gary Fleder, director of films like Kiss the Girls, but also has done quite a bit of television directing. The show’s main focus is Nick (Bryan Greenberg, The Perfect Score), who left Knights Ridge, Massachusetts when he graduated college and went to New York and became a successful writer after his book about his hometown was published. He’s faced a couple problems since then, first off is that he’s blocked and unable to write a follow-up, and secondly, the first book seemed to burn a lot of bridges and goodwill between him and the town, so it seems he can’t go home again.
But hey, this is television, and through Hollywood magic and a couple of dramatic devices, he finds himself going home to teach at the local university, and he tries to mend fences at the same time. He’s got a group of several best friends who are all intertwined in one way or another. “Physical” Phil (Jay Paulson, Go) hasn’t gone outside since the attacks of September 11. Speaking of that day, Brad William Henke, who appeared in World Trade Center, tries to help Phil when he can, although he’s married to Alison (Elizabeth Bogush, Eastside) an, though they love each, Alison is cheating on him with Ikey (Evan Jones, Jarhead). Ikey works with Alison’s brother Eddie (Geoff Stults, Wedding Crashers), who was best friends with Nick. There will be a quiz later on this. Wait there’s more! Nick also left Hannah (Laura Prepon, That 70s Show) behind as well, and Hannah moved on and even had a kid who was born a few months after Nick left. So with all of that in mind, everyone’s got to reconcile their feelings and friendships somehow, and the guys do that fairly easily because they’re guys, so they’re in an “air band” that helps them become friends again like nothing happened.
So how exactly does this show follow dramatically in the fold of the Gilmores? I’m not really too sure. As opposed to that show, which admittedly I watched and was a fan of, the dialogue here seems to want to try and show off in the sense that they’re smarter than most everyone else in the room sometimes, though that dialogue is pretty sparse and is replaced by trying to examine the friendships between the four guys. And that friendship and how they act in it, combined with the music of Collective Soul, the Goo Goo Dolls and other bands that were famous a decade ago, seems to convey the impression that these guys never really grew up after Nick left, and while some of them are responsible, it’s far from believable. As to the relationship between Hannah and Nick, the one that’s presumably supposed to be the one everyone cares about, in this initial six episode run of things you get occasional glimpses at chemistry and a partial investment in wanting to see how it works out, all that seems to come in the way are things that tease it a little bit, or obstacles that are thrown in the way of seeing them together again. But for that matter, that’s how television shows work I guess.
Well this does appear with a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround soundtrack, though the surround usage is pretty minimal. As I mentioned before though, this show is HEAVY on the sappy crap and popular bad arena rock songs, and they sound crisp and clear, but past that this doesn’t really do anything.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen was presumably framed for an HD broadcast of sorts and it looks very good actually, with the apparent star of the show being the location. While it’s supposed to be Massachusetts, the show was shot in Atlanta. The leaves turning look really good in the background, and the foreground looks just as rustic, so there aren’t a lot of blacks or other overly bright colors. It’s a solid transfer.
Surprisingly if this show was any good (and it was picked up for a second season’s worth of episodes), you’d expect this to have some more extras on it, but there aren’t any. There’s a relatively topical look at how the show came together, featuring interviews with the cast and crew as they share their thoughts on the show and on their fellow cast and crew. From there, six deleted scenes from the pilot follow, most of which are pretty bland, save for the decision of offering Nick the teaching job, as opposed to the airing of him basically lobbying for a job. A two minute look at Season Two follows, along with a seventy second blooper reel that ain’t all that funny.
Some of the things that occur on the streets of October Road are predictable and silly, and worth every last bit of mockery and derision heaped upon them. The show’s premise is decent and the execution does legitimately work from time to time, though I’d like this show a little bit more if there was some more character evolution, which I firmly believe you can accomplish in these paltry half dozen episodes. A rental for the curious out there who are starving for any form of non-repeat television to watch during the writer’s strike.