Comes now the curious case of October Road, which is not a bad little show and which gets a plum, post-Grey’s Anatomy timeslot for the next few weeks, and yet is going on the air with nearly no advance warning to viewers.
That last part is something of a shame, because while its ambitions are not on the scale of, say, Lost, there are a few nice performances and appealingly quirky characters in there. It’s territory that’s been mined numerous times before, but the little touches make it a pleasant enough way to spend an hour.
The story centers on Nick Garrett (Bryan Greenberg, One Tree Hill), a young writer whose best-selling first novel sold out a lot of his old friends in Knights Ridge, Mass. — most notably his ex-girlfriend, Hannah (That ’70s Show‘s Laura Prepon, who shows range well beyond her sitcom roots).
Cursed with writer’s block, Nick heads home, where he comes face to face with the people he wrote about. Some of them, like his air-band pals Ikey (Evan Jones) and Owen Rowan (Brad William Henke, in between Prepon and Greenberg in the photo), don’t seem to mind. Hannah and Nick’s former best friend Eddie (George Stults), though, aren’t so easy to win back. Oh, and Hannah has a 10-year-old son with a peanut allergy, just like Nick. So there’s another reason to stay.
You sort of know where this is going — heck, it even comes with Hannah being involved with the former high-school bully (Warren Christie). Creators Scott Rosenberg, Andre Nemec and Josh Appelbaum manage to be specific enough with their characters, though, that you can enjoy the small moments and sort of disregard the fact that you’re pretty sure what comes next.
Rosenberg wrote the underrated movie Beautiful Girls, which was also about a small-town homecoming, and its DNA is readily apparent in the show — as are, apparently, the feelings Rosenberg hurt in writing the film. Maybe because it’s so personal, October Road has a strong sense of place, aided, oddly enough, by a familiar classic-rock soundtrack (when was the last time you heard Jackson Browne’s "The Pretender" on TV?).
Which brings me back to the question of ABC’s scheduling of the series. The network must like it at least a little, or otherwise it wouldn’t be burning an original Grey’s Anatomy in mid-March to help launch it.
But it’s going on the air a scant three weeks after the announcement of its premiere, which is hardly time to build buzz for a show, big lead-in or no big lead-in. Maybe that’ll be enough, and the Grey’s viewers will stick around for October Road. But it’s an awful lot to ask.