You could look at all that drama and think this is one of those shows that drags you through the mud, throwing in the occasional mushy moment only to be followed by things falling apart again but that’s really not the case with this series. October Road is full of heart, humor and great story arcs.
8 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed rating
Drama is running high on the Ridge when the second season of October Road picks up. While we watched certain relationships build in the first season, other’s started to crumble. If you’re unfamiliar with October Road, the series follows Nick Garrett (Bryan Greenberg) and his childhood friends as he reconnects with them after leaving them behind for a decade. Nick left Knights Ridge to backpack through Europe after high school, leaving his girlfriend Hannah (Laura Prepon) and the rest of his friends and family behind. He was supposed to return after a few weeks but it took him ten years to get back home.

In that time, Nick went on to publish a trendy novel based on his life. He returns to Knights Ridge for a seminar and ends up reconnecting with the people he hadn’t spoken to since high school. His former girlfriend Hannah has a son, Sam who’s ten years old and may or may not be Nick’s son. Hannah claims Nick’s not the father but that’s really left up in the air. His friends have all moved on and some of them are already dealing with their own self-inflicted drama.

Among Nick’s former BFF’s is Ikey, the dopey side-kick type whom we learn in the first season, is sleeping with other-BFF Owen’s wife. This becomes public news at the end of the first season, leaving Owen to pick up and take off for New York to get away from the small town where everyone knows his best friend was sleeping with his wife. Then there’s Eddie, the former football star with a reputation for being a lady’s man and bedding beautiful women. In the first season, he begins to fall for Janet, the full-figured (but still beautiful) bartender at the local pub. Their relationship picks up in the second season and the two finally decide to go public but it’s a bumpy road for them in season two as Eddie’s not used to being in a serious romantic relationship and Janet’s not really used to being in any romantic relationship, let alone being the girlfriend of one of the dreamiest guys in town.

Meanwhile, Physical Phil, as he’s known by his friends, still won’t go outside. We learn in season one that he hasn’t left the house in years. Basically, after 9/11 he decided to stay home and watch the news and after that, he just stayed home. Now he’s the weirdo on the block, with a collection of baseballs that have landed on his lawn and were left there by kids that were too afraid to step onto the property to retrieve it. While Phil might be a shut-in, he’s more adorable than he is the creepy agoraphobe and we get to see his relationship with Pizza Girl, the equally cute and stylish delivery girl, blossom in the second season.

There are a lot of other things going on in the season two, including Nick’s on-again-off-again relationship with Aubrey, a writing student at the university where Nick teaches. Personally, I found this plot as uninteresting in the second season as I did in the first but it does get a little better when we learn that Nick’s brother has a thing for Aubrey. Meanwhile, Hannah gets engaged to Big Cat, who swears he’s turned over a new leaf and is supposedly less douchy than he was in the first season. And no one’s really talking to Ikey after everyone learned that he was sleeping with Owen’s wife. There are numerous attempts to bring the group back together but Owen’s too hurt by the betrayal to really let Ikey back into the fold. Finally, there’s the Who Is Sam’s Dad plot. We get hints that there was something going on between Hannah and Eddie during the summer when Nick first left the Ridge. So it could be Eddie. Or it’s Nick. Or it’s “Gavin Goddard.” It becomes an issue because Big Cat wants to adopt Sam once he’s married to Hannah and because Eddie has guilt-issues about their hook-up after seeing what happened between Owen and Ikey.

You could look at all that drama and think this is one of those shows that drags you through the mud, throwing in the occasional mushy moment only to be followed by things falling apart again but that’s really not the case with this series. October Road is full of heart, humor and great story arcs for the most part. The characters all have their flaws but they’re likable and they’re all just trying to find happiness and figure themselves out.

One of things that serves to add a huge amount of charm to the series is the music. Songs from artists like Ben Folds, The Jayhawks, Spacehog, Soul Asylum and Meatloaf, for example, serve as an excellent backdrop to emphasize the history these characters have with each other. The music is actually one of the things I love most about this series, so kudos to whoever was responsible for selecting the playlist for this show because it really adds to the flavor of the series.

The only major downside of season two, aside from it being only thirteen episodes long is that we’re given an open-ended finale. Fortunately, the DVD set offers a solution to this and it’s one I wish other cancelled shows would include on their final-season DVDs. Other than that, if you loved the show, you should own this DVD set. And if you’ve never seen the series, I recommend checking out the first season to start but if you can’t, the second season is still enjoyable enough on its own and they do a decent job of catching you up in the first few episodes to let you know who’s who and what’s what.
7 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed rating
The October Road Season Two DVD set spreads the thirteen episodes of the final season of the series out over three discs, allowing them to package the set in a regular sized DVD case. The first two discs hold the episodes and some basic set-up options. There’s a handy play-all feature that makes it nice and easy to marathon through each disc.

The third disc includes the last few episodes as well as what few special features come with the set. There’s a blooper reel, a video showing us some of the set and behind-the-scenes action on the show and then there’s the “Road’s End: The Final Chapter.”

I had no idea what to expect from that last feature but one thing I did know as I finished up the last episode of the series was that I really hate it when TV shows get cancelled before everything is resolved one way or the other. If you’re familiar with the second season of October Road then you know that there are more than a few unresolved issues among the characters. Physical Phil’s still a shut in, we don’t know who Sam’s dad is, Hannah’s set to marry Big Cat, not realizing he’s a tool, and Nick’s brother professes his love to Aubrey only to have Nick return moments later, thus throwing a wrench in his whole get the girl plan. Plus, Nick’s dad has cancer and Janet and Eddie are on the outs. It’s kind of hard to feel good about the series when you don’t know how things will turn out for any of these people.

The “Final Chapter” feature fixes all that with a mini-episode, including most of the main characters that sums up how things turned out. It answers all the questions you probably had at the end of the last episode. Sure, it’s corny and a bit touchy-feeling in a happily-ever-after sort of way but the feature provides a rare bit of closure to the series.

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