October Road: The Complete First Season (TV)
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James Teitelbaum (10th November 2007).
The Show

As the pilot opens, Nick (Bryan Greenberg) is in bed with his girlfriend Hannah (Laura Prepon). Nick's dad doesn't seem to mind that Nick is schtupping Hannah right in his childhood bedroom; my parents sure as heck wouldn't have let me get away with that (and anyway, who would want to go at it with dad just down the hall?). Well, anyway, the year is 1997, and Nick is about to leave for a six-week trip to Europe to find himself. Minutes after his goodbye bang with Hannah, his friends see him off, and dad drives him to the airport.
Nick just sort of vanishes, and never makes it home.
Cut to New York, ten years later: Nick is a successful author, but is having a case of writer's block. His most famous book is largely based upon his experiences growing up in New England, and Nick's prose is apparently rather unkind to some of the people he grew up with. He gets an opportunity to teach a 'thing' back in his home town, and must face the reality of running into all of the people whom he featured in his book. Between his sudden disappearance (which cheesed some people off) and the contents of his book (which cheesed some people off), not all of Nick's erstwhile associates are glad to see him. To the chagrin of his manager, Nick decides to hang out at home for a while, in spite of the fact that no one there seems too glad to have him back. Drama ensues.
The show is best described as innocuous. There's nothing edgy or ground-breaking here, and the stories in play are not quite savory enough to keep the average person obsessively hooked. There's nothing too controversial or potentially offensive. The show gets significantly sappier as it progresses, but in episode six, the cast and writers wake up a little and there are some major histrionics, just as the series wraps up. Overall, it is a strictly mainstream drama that plugs along at a moderate pace; tracking the lives and loves of an ensemble cast lead by Greenberg.
Greenberg is likable as Nick, balancing the intellectualism that the character has found in his new cosmopolitan life with the discomfort and confusion of his ill-advised homecoming. Prepon is also good in her role; it is a shame that she didn't return for the second season. I also liked Odette Yustman as the other girl in Nick's life; she's been kicking around here and there since making her debut in "Kindergarten Cop" (1990). She is grown up now. Definitely.
The series takes place in -- and appears to have been shot on location in -- New England, in the titular month of October. Truth is it was lensed in Atlanta. Cinematographer Theo van de Sande does a nice job of capturing both the vibe of 'New Atlanta' as well as capturing a feeling of perpetual autumn. The production design by Nelson Coates has an equally authentic feel, and often feels like it was shot mostly on-location as opposed to on sets. The combined efforts of the two men result in a nice melancholic and atmospheric feeling to the show.

Video

For a mainstream television show, the photography in "October Road" is a bit on the lush side, and it looks good on the DVD. The colors of the ersatz New England autumn are nicely saturated. The shows and extras are all presented in anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen.

Audio

Options for "October Road" are in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1. The audio quality of the original production is fine, with clear dialogue. Sound effects are minimal in this one, so the surrounds don't have too much to do. The ubiquitous contemporary pop song that closes each episode fills the soundscape nicely but I still found myself turning the volume down for most of them.
Subtitles are in English; Closed Captioned.

Extras

Disc one of "October Road" contains the first four episodes plus some bonus trailers for:

- "National Treasure: Book of Secrets"
- "Lost": The Complete Third Season"
- "What About Brian: The Complete Series"
- "Grey's Anatomy: Season Four"

DISC TWO:

Disc two holds the fifth and sixth episodes, plus some bonus features.

There are six deleted scenes, five are from the "pilot" episode, and the last one is from Episode 6, they are:

- "Packing Up" (1:08), is an alternate opening scene.
- "Make it a Sequel" (0:58), Nick talks to his publisher in a bar.
- "Ronnie's Warning" (1:29), Nick has a conversation with his brother.
- "Just See the Movie" (1:11), Nick talks to the dean of a college.
- "Job Offer" (0:39), another conversation with the dean.
- "The Alpaca and the Coyote" (1:44), Nick's dad tells a funny story.

A blooper reel runs 1:17 and shows the usual selection of blown takes. A behind-the-scenes featurette entitled "October Road: The Journey Begins" runs 9:43 and contains an array of interviews with all of the main cast and crew members. Finally there's a spoiler-iffic season two preview which runs for 2:27; make sure you watch it after episodes five and six!

Note that the press release we were sent claims that there are audio commentaries on the disc, but there are not.

Overall

The Show: B Video: A Audio: B Extras: B Overall: B+

 


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