Guys rule in the WB’s “Everwood,” a sound drama that does for father-son relationships what “Gilmore Girls” does for the women of the family. As quirky as it is comfortable, hour grabs two demos for the price of one, mixing a wealthy, hunky widower’s anxieties with the changes his two kids are going through after he moves them to a small town. With “Felicity” off the net’s menu and “Dawson’s Creek” getting up there in age, it’s up to this Monday nighter to carry on the web’s reputation as an angst haven. It fills the bill.
There are certain required elements to this type of growing-up-fast skein, and they’re all on display in the pilot, which runs 10 extra minutes: breathy music selections laid over scenes of teens struggling with the right choices; generational arguments that lead to “You never listen”; and sex without too much sex, that is to say a lot of high schoolers who only think they’re falling in lust.
But “Everwood” reaches deeper than that, probably because it spends as much time with an angry adolescent as it does with his dad, Andrew (Treat Williams), a renowned New York neurosurgeon who learns one night while working late that his wife, Julia (Brenda Strong), has died in a car accident while driving to the piano recital of son Ephram.
Grieving in the most extreme way, Brown decides to take Ephram and daughter Delia (Vivien Cardone) out of the hurried confines of Gotham to picturesque Everwood, Co., a snowcapped hamlet whose residents are excited to have someone relatively famous coming to stay. (Debut was filmed in Calgary, and subsequent episodes are shot in Utah.)
Everyone, that is, except Dr. Harold Abbott (Tom Amandes), the lifelong physician who isn’t particularly pleasant to the locals, but the lone medic they’ve known. He’s irked that his two children, Bright (Chris Pratt) and Amy (Emily VanCamp), are socializing with Andy’s brood; enraged that Brown is setting up a general practice; and perplexed that his new competitor isn’t charging anyone a penny.
Delia and Ephram, meanwhile, are responding to mom’s death in different ways. She remains close to dad and tries to make sense of his sorrow, he often talks to his deceased spouse out loud. Ephram lashes out at school, bickers at home and resents his pop for uprooting their lives. (Turns out he chose Everwood because Julia said it was the most beautiful place she’d ever seen.)
Things are a bit rushed off the bat — the actual mourning process lasts for a flash, and the Browns go from big city to big country in a matter of moments — but for all of its haste, “Everwood” is nicely paced down the stretch and viable as a program for the mall crowd as well as their parents.
That’s in large part due to Williams, who hasn’t been a TV regular since “Good Advice” in 1993 and here is likable and completely sympathetic. His paternal reactions are appropriate on the levels most WB watchers have come to expect — tough love mixed with sensitivity — and he’s man enough to draw in baby boomers looking for a character of their own.
Rest of the cast is strong, but will need some fleshing out. Smith is the ideal choice for a bitter young man — rebellious, handsome and a little lost — Amandes is perfectly snooty and there won’t be any lack of storylines thanks to the unending string of odd patients a la “Northern Exposure.”
There isn’t a series on TV that can boast a better setting: The hills are vibrant, the weather is ideal and the streets are lined with adorable storefronts. Michael O’Shea’s lensing benefits from all of it.