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TV Series Review

"There are few true family shows on TV, even fewer good ones," declared The Detroit News. "Everwood has the potential to be the best." Mirroring the sentiments of many of his peers, that newspaper’s TV critic, Tom Long, went on to say, "There are some who want incest, addiction, infidelity and dysfunction in a family drama. There are others who want nothing but hugs and halos and overly dramatic situations. Everwood is for the rest of us."

Actually it isn’t, but there’s more to the story. This WB series (Mondays after 7th Heaven) introduces viewers to the Brown family. Mom just died. Dad (Dr. Andrew Brown, played by Treat Williams) walks away from his career as a world-famous New York City neurosurgeon and plunks himself and his two children down in the Colorado mountains. His wife loved the town of Everwood when she vacationed there years earlier, so he feels drawn to it. A dad’s romantic notion, however, can be a teenage boy’s worst nightmare. Fifteen-year-old Ephram (The Patriot’s Gregory Smith) and his 3rd-grade sister, Delia (A Beautiful Mind’s Vivien Cardone), find themselves motherless, friendless and dealing with acute cross-continental culture shock.

It sounds like the perfect backdrop for an insightful, compelling family drama. Profound moments speak to the value of marriage, the repercussions of drunk driving, "quantity time" with children, forgiveness, trust and faithfulness. But before you join the party, know that Everwood’s producers love to spike the punch. Minutes into the premiere, Ephram wakes up to discover that he had a, well, dreamland sexual experience. Other episodes dive headfirst into controversy by dealing with gender roles, hermaphrodites, surrogate pregnancies and, most notably, STDs. Amused by the sex ed curriculum taught at Everwood’s high school, Dr. Brown declares it woefully inadequate:

"It teaches abstinence only!" he exclaims incredulously. "It’s antiquated and it doesn’t provide nearly enough information."

"What are you suggesting, Doctor," a school board member retorts, "that we hand out condoms in home room?"

"That would be a good start," Brown shoots back. "Like it or not, our children are having sex. Now we can either teach them how to be safe about it so they don’t die, or we can stay in our cocoons, wax poetic about the good old days and pretend it’s not happening."

Such sentiment is joined by a disturbing spiritual angst and caustic disrespect for parents. Ephram goes so far as to call his dad a "d--k" in one quarrel, just one of the show’s crude and profane expressions. I guess that’s what misguided critics like Mr. Long consider enticing and desirable "for the rest of us."

Episodes Reviewed: Sept. 16, 23, 30, Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov. 4, 2002

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Steven Isaac

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