Tuesday, June 06, 2006

SOOOOO cheesy; SOOOOO awesome!: So long, farewell, Everwood

I came to Everwood late.

I watched the latter half of the second season after being quite impressed at the show's guts to kill off one leg of its central love triangle. I watched every episode of the third and fourth seasons, gobbling them up like Christmas tea. And I caught up with the first season haphazardly. There was a lot of stuff that didn't work, that was too over the top, that was just too cheesily baked in sentimentality.

But something about the stupid show WORKED. Out of all of the shows on television, it encouraged your emotional investment. NAY, it REQUIRED your emotional investment. It held you down on the floor and smacked you around and screamed at you, "YOU ARE GOING TO CRY AT THIS, DAMMIT! YOU ARE GOING TO CRY LIKE A LITTLE GIRL!"

Everwood was earnest. PAINFULLY earnest. It believed in things like families sitting down and having a good talk, like teenagers making stupid mistakes and learning lessons from them (after a long period of torment), like true love.

And somehow, it worked.

Everwood was assembled from warmed-over cliches, stuck together in a way that didn't possibly seem like it could work. But those elements were written and performed with such verve and honesty (to the show's hyper-earnest worldview at least) that you couldn't help but find it all deeply, deeply affecting. The occasional element bugged (the score could often grate, as it made too many scenes too cutesy), but the package as a whole delivered.

Everwood loved its melodrama. It wasn't above doing things like having a teenager have a secret child he had no idea about. But it also wasn't afraid to let those things play out like they might actually play out in a realistic fashion. And it wasn't afraid to subtly resolve arcs like this in the least obvious ways possible (in the plotline specified, the character mentioned became a teacher and took a student under his wing, ultimately leading to that student's flowering as an individual -- I didn't even realize how much it resolved the baby storyline until it was over).

Everwood also didn't pull punches in regards to the issues it tackled. It took on abortion, homosexuality, teenage sexuality and many, many others in realistic and interesting ways. It didn't say that all of these things were categorically bad. But it didn't say they were good either. It was content to let these issues be, to let them sit.

In many ways, Everwood is the embodiment of why I originally fell in love with television. It's the idea that we'll be invited into a world once a week where we'll be a silent participant. In exchange, this world's citizens will engage us in some way, make us laugh or cry or want to throw up.

Since I first fell in love with television, of course, I've come to understand that it can be so much more as a medium than just a place to feel at home for 30 minutes to an hour every week. But those little spots on the schedule DO still feel like home. It's one of the pleasures of a story that unfolds ever so gradually, inviting you in.

I'm deeply saddened that Deadwood won't get a fourth season. But since it was a part of the world that includes things like abrupt cancellations for business decisions, I can make peace with it. Everwood never felt like a part of that world. It was its own, tiny, precious thing. And I hate that word "precious." But it somehow fits Everwood.

Bye, my chickens. I'll assume you're all happy, riding your Ferris wheels and drifting through your lovely little mountain town.

See you again real soon.


Lee said...

Ahhh, that was lovely.

Also, in case you hadn't heard, Deadwood may not be going to season four, but there will be two 2 hour specials to complete Milch's story. And that makes me happy.

wcdixon said...

yes there will be 4 hours to wrap up 'Deadwood'...something more than nothing at least.