Still another ensemble sets up for business as John Byrum’s “Winnetka Road” heaves into view. It’s Hollywood’s view of Smalltown, USA, and there is plenty of suffering and dry humor to go round. Now to make it involving.
These are the 28-30ish working bunch in Oak Bluff, a wealthy suburb of some major Midwestern city. The actors are practiced enough to toss the lines around without looking pained, even though one character, addressing blind Father Burke (Eddie Bracken), has to say, “Personally, Father, I think everything’s about to go as wrong as it can!”
Film actress Terry Mears (Paige Turco) has ankled L.A. because her ex-boyfriend’s after their son. Terry’s high school beau, cop Jack Passion (Josh Brolin), is romancing Nicole (Megan Ward), who views Terry’s return with narrowed eyes.
It’s like that. Kurt Deutsch limns an MBA who finds work as a gardener and also finds an exotic landlady (Meg Tilly). And Ed Begley Jr. plays a man who walked out on his wife and two kids to play house with a health enthusiast — a far reach for a wry laugh. Presumably the series will shovel lots of hot stuff, but so far, viewers will have to settle for the ol’ naked-bodies-behind-frosted-glass and people awkwardly clutching at sheets as they skitter out of bed; things haven’t heated up much in Oak Bluff.
That viewers will endure nighttime soaps has already been proven, so it’s a matter of degree. Byrum provides an ample variety of characters, and, in this first installment, director Peter Werner encourages the action and production designers Cameron Birnie and James Hulsey offer complementary backgrounds.
If it all seems familiar, that’s because it is. It’s a sure bet that in Oak Bluff, everything’s about to go as wrong as it can. Only problem with watching folks working out kinks is that those folks should be full-strength alluring; this bunch seems pretty thin-blooded.