The second-season premiere of “Everwood” (9 p.m., WB) brings out the show’s heartfelt best while avoiding the kind of maudlin moments that occasionally marred its initial run.
In the Season 1 cliffhanger, Dr. Andrew Brown (Treat Williams) performed radical brain surgery on Colin Hart (Mike Erwin) in an attempt to save the teen’s life. Tonight, in an episode titled “The Last of Summer,” Colin’s fate will be revealed.
That’s the basic plot, anyway. Although the suspense surrounding Colin is resolved quickly, the episode is really about change, the theme that has driven the series from the start.
Written by creator and executive producer Greg Berlanti and co-executive producer Rina Mimoun and directed by Michael Schultz, the episode explores the growth of three major characters: Brown, who moved his family from New York City to the Colorado hamlet of Everwood last year after the sudden death of his wife; Brown’s teenage son, Ephram (Gregory Smith); and Amy Abbott (Emily VanKamp), Colin’s friend and the daughter of Brown’s professional rival, Dr. Harold Abbott.
There are moments of levity as well. When a nervous mother pesters Abbott (Tom Amandes) on his summer vacation, his snide response neatly sums up the problem with medicine today. A gag about the trendy new restaurant in town, Planet California, is amusingly untimely.
But “Everwood” works best as a family drama, one that usually allows us to think rather than making us cringe.
The maturing of Ephram continues to be one of the most compelling and believable story lines, thanks to Smith’s talent. When Ephram directly confronts his father tonight, you can understand why the doctor is so proud of this young man.
Ultimately, tonight’s chain of events brings Brown to an important realization about himself. In this town where he still sometimes feels like a stranger, acceptance begins at home.