Ever warm. Ever wonderful. The emotional final season comes to claim your heart.
A show like Everwood: The Complete Fourth Season relies entirely on the audience connecting to and wanting to follow its characters. Luckily for me it delivers characters I care about and situations I can easily relate to as it wraps up its television run.
This final season brings us back to the town of Everwood, Colorado, and into the lives of some of its denizens. Leading the way is Dr. Andy Brown (Treat Williams, Hair) and his children, Ephram (Gregory Smith, Rookie Blue) and Delia (Vivien Cardone, One Life to Live). Their lives intertwine with the Abbott family, including Dr. Harold Abbott Jr. (Tom Amandes, Eli Stone) and his wife Rose (Merrilyn Gann, Life Unexpected). Their son, Bright (Chris Pratt, Parks and Recreation), is Ephram’s best friend, and their daughter Amy (Emily VanCamp, Brothers and Sisters), is Ephram’s on-again-off-again love interest. Rounding out the gang are the Browns’ next door neighbors, Nina Feeney (Stephanie Niznik, Life is Wild), her son Sam, and Dr. Jake Hartman (Scott Wolf, Party of Five), Nina’s live-in boyfriend.
During this final set of episodes we learn the aftermath of Andy and Nina’s kiss, the ongoing struggle Rose endures battling cancer, and whether or not Ephram comes back to Everwood — including what effect that has on Amy, who’s starting her first year of college, and on Andy, who fears his son may stay gone forever.
Just a quick warning that some of the music was indeed changed from what aired on TV, so if that’s important to you bear it in mind. The episodes are as follows:
* “A Kiss to Build a Dream On”
* “The Next Step”
* “Put On a Happy Face”
* “Pieces of Me”
* “Connect Four”
* “Free Fall”
* “Pro Choice”
* “So Long, Farewell…”
* “Getting to Know You”
* “Lost and Found”
* “You’re a Good Man, Andy Brown”
* “An Ounce of Prevention”
* “Across the Lines”
* “The Land of Confusion”
* “All the Lonely People”
* “Enjoy the Ride”
* “Goodbye, Love”
* “Foreverwood, Part One”
* “Foreverwood, Part Two”
In the tradition of other WB shows like Gilmore Girls and more recently Supernatural, this is a show about family. It is a character based show and this last season drives that fact home, as we have no season long arc but rather situations born out of the characters’ choices. You can’t talk about Everwood without talking about the characters.
It all starts with Andy. His kiss with Nina ends up temporarily derailing both their friendship as well as his tenuous friendship with Jake. He spends the season trying to accept Nina and Jake’s relationship while also worrying about his crumbling relationship with Delia, who is on the cusp of becoming a teenager with all the moodiness inherent.
Ephram’s return home ends up more of a blessing than Andy had hoped for as the two use the course of the season to finally come to a greater understanding of one another. Treat Williams’ portrayal of Andy is the most awkward it’s been, but at the same time the most real.
Nina and Jake’s interaction is, at times, very painful to watch, as the revelation of Jake’s addiction strains not only their relationship with each other but also with everyone else. Especially difficult to get through is the aftermath of Nina’s decision to take Jake back and allow him to live with her, a choice which she feels trapped by.
One of the low points of Season Four is the Hannah and Bright relationship. While I started out impressed at the way these two completely different characters were able to talk about those differences and build a relationship after Bright’s infidelity, the lack of realism begins to show.
Of course many fans of Everwood tuned in to watch the Amy/Ephram saga and this season offered up a lot of relationship drama. When Ephram returns from Europe Amy tells him that although she still believes they will end up together, she doesn’t think now is the time. However given that this is episodic television we’re talking about it’s not too surprising the two end up in bed together or that Ephram confesses his continuing feelings for her. But Amy is still too caught up in her new college experiences to be able to commit and so it takes outside forces to cause any serious change in their paths.
Which brings us to the high point of Season Four and that is the sheer amount of high impact events which befall these characters. Usually within a season you can count on one of these ratings-generators to occur: a death, a birth, or a wedding. But within this one season we not only had two out of those three we also had a suicide attempt, the onset of panic attacks, adoption, varying religious beliefs and a struggle to accept one character’s sexual orientation. And while none of those situations were treated with a documentary level of realism, they weren’t merely brushed over either.
In fact, the best thing about Everwood is everything bad that happens produces something good. It’s nice to watch a show where you can count on that fact instead of wondering what the next step in the downward spiral will be, like with so many other shows. The whole family can watch this together without worrying about language, excessive violence, or overt sexuality.
Unfortunately this transfer is not great. The black levels are so dark as to cause significant loss of detail, not just in nighttime scenes but in any scene in which shadows play a part. There’s also digital noise and grain throughout as well as artifacting on the edges. Occasionally there’s even a stutter, a slowing down that’s nowhere near Max Headroom bad, but it is jarring. The audio is better, but only because this is a dialogue driven show.
The only extras are deleted scenes, and while the amount (40 mins) is great, the fact that deleted scenes are the only extra offered isn’t. Especially when you consider this is the last season, and with five years between the show going off the air and this release, I’m not sure what excuse I’d accept for the lack of even one commentary or featurettes.
It’s been half a decade since the last show aired and we’re just now getting a DVD release. Unless you don’t mind waiting for the additional years it might take to get Blu-ray, go ahead and pick this up.