New show full of detours

Robert Taylor

At first glance, “October Road” seems to be an utter waste of a fantastic cast trapped in a clich‚d and unbelievably bad melodrama. And during the pilot, it is. But, busy college student, if you have the patience to stay with this melodrama until the third and fourth episode (it premiers March 15 at 10 after “Grey’s Anatomy”), chances are you may find yourself hooked.

“October Road”

Premieres March 15 at 10 p.m. on ABC

Stater rating (out of five): ??

The pilot centers around a popular author (“One Tree Hill” and Prime’s Bryan Greenberg) returning to the small town where he grew up. The major problem is that the book he is known for is a tell-all account of the town that has embarrassed all his friends.

And, wouldn’t you know it, he manages to run into or share an agonized gaze with every single person he hurt in the book during the pilot’s first half hour. Because that is about as realistic as recent episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

The cast is large and talented, and also includes the beautiful Laura Prepon – proving that not just the men of “That ’70s Show” can have a career – Tom Berenger and Geoff Stults.

But the pilot is so full of laughable moments that it nearly (operative word here is nearly) destroys any credibility the show has. It opens in flashback with Greenberg and Prepon in bed together. Stults walks in on them and instead of, ya know, walking out to let them dress or anything, he stands at the foot of the bed and watches while saying “Good-bye sex is the best!”

Or how about when Greenberg meets up with some old friends for a round of band practice with mops and tennis rackets in a scene that lasts for three minutes? Or the fact that Greenberg mentions at least three times for no real reason that he has an allergy to peanuts that is passed down through his family to helpfully set up the twist ending like a sledgehammer to the head?

But “October Road” isn’t all bad. Really. By the third episode, in fact, it has improved tenfold to being an underwhelming ensemble drama. The actors are allowed to let more of themselves into the characters, and as a result it feels more honest. The ridiculous twist at the end of the pilot is played out much too long though, since the series would be over in six episodes if a certain fact about a citizen of the town wasn’t true.

If you are a fan of shows like “Glory Days,” “Men in Trees,” or “Gilmore Girls,” avoid this show. You are much too good for it. But if you love Lifetime movies, then by all means give it a try.

Contact ALL correspondent Robert Taylor at [email protected].