Created by André Nemec (Alias), Scott Rosenberg (wrote the film Beautiful Girls) and Josh Applebaum (LIFE ON MARS), who also serve as the series’ executive producers, asks the question, can you really go home again? Written by Scott Rosenberg, he freely admits that the show is semi-autobiographical and based on what happened after Beautiful Girls came out and how his friends reacted to a movie about their lives.
The series follows Nick Garrett (Bryan Greenberg) who left his hometown of Knights Bridge, Massachusetts ten years ago, intending to go backpacking in Europe to find himself. He left behind his girlfriend Hannah (Laura Prepon), best friend Eddie (Geoff Stults), and his family. The brief trip ended up lasting for a decade. Garrett is now a famous author and screenwriter living in New York City. Garrett finds himself suffering a case of writer’s block. His agent books him to conduct a one-day writing seminar at the local college in his hometown. Nick is excited about coming home but realizes the feeling isn’t completely mutual among all his family and friends.

October Road S2Obviously, a lot of thing change over the course of a decade. Nick’s ex-girlfriend Hannah has a ten-year-old son named Sam, that Nick believes may be his son, even though Hannah has claimed another man as the boy’s father. His old friend Eddie Latekka is still upset with Nick for leaving Knightsbridge and abandoning their plans to open a floors, doors, and windows store; this, despite the fact that Eddie owns his own landscaping company. Philip “Physical Phil” Farmer (Jay Paulson) lives with Eddie and has been a shut-in since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Owen Rowan (Brad William Henke) prides himself on being a good husband and father to his two children. He always thought his life was perfect with a stable job, a pretty wife, and great friends. After finding out about his wife’s affair with his childhood pal, Ikey (Evan Jones), his world was crushed.
The first season ended with Owen running off to New York City in an effort to get away from his wife and the implications of her affair and Nick and Hannah facing serious questions about their relationship. Season two begins just after Nick has told Hannah he loves her and wants to be part of family with her and Sam (Slade Pearce). These are words Hannah has waited a decade to hear, however she’s not sure she’s ready to risk her heart again.
During the second season it seems as if almost everyone in Knights Bridge is dealing with a budding relationship. Always the ladies man, during the first season, Eddie began to fall for Janet Meadows (Rebecca Field), the bartender at the local watering hole. Their relationship picks up steam in the second season and the two decide to go public. It’s far from smooth sailing though, as Eddie’s not used to being in a serious relationship and Janet’s not used to having a boyfriend, let alone one of the most popular guys in town. Physical Phil still refuses to leave the house. Those who don’t know him think of him as the town weirdo. He has a collection of baseballs scattered on his lawn because kids are too afraid to step on the property to retrieve them. Phil may be a shut in but he’s more adorable than he is the creepy agoraphobe and we get to see his relationship with Pizza Girl (Lindy Booth), the equally cute and stylish delivery girl, blossom in the second season.
The actor’s very natural performances are a highlight here. Nothing is overplayed for dramatic effect and they all seem like people you might meet in your everyday life. While other shows find their strengths in catchy dialogue, a signature style, or intricate storylines, October Road really finds its strength in its cast. Everyone involved is honest and understated. Characters that may come across as awfully unpleasant on paper become far more approachable thanks to genuine craft and skill.
Where October Road may falter is in its predictability. While the series can be engaging, I found it fairly easy to figure out the basic details of what was going to happen next; there wasn’t a whole lot of mystery. Perhaps if the producers had made the show a bit less predictable, it would have lasted longer.
That being said, October Road is still a fine show. It felt like the series had finally hit its stride in the second season, so it would have been nice to see what would have happened in a third. As it is, ABC has left us with two seasons we can spend in the pretty town of Knights Bridge, Massachusetts and it’s worth the visit.
October Road returns to DVD in the anamorphic 1.78:1 aspect ratio of its HD airings. The results are quite good overall. As with many other programs set in rural New England, this one contains an almost constant autumn color palette that’s replicated faithfully here. Some shots are a bit soft, and slight compression artifacts are noticeable in outdoor transitional shots. Still, this is infrequent and the image generally is clear and detailed.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack gets the job done. Sound effects are understandably minimal as dialogue is the primary element. That aspect comes across well, even showing a bit of directional mixing at times. The sound field really opens up during the many pop and rock songs throughout the season. The tracks meet expectations.
This DVD has a few special features.
Bumps in the Road (2:54) A short blooper reel featuring the usual sort of outtakes.
The Scenic Route: A Behind the Scenes Tour (6:06) Takes a look at the different sets that appear in the series on a regular basis. Laura Prepon, Tom Berenger, and Geoff Stults each serve as host to the locations where their respective characters are most often seen.
Road’s End: The Final Chapter (9:51) is an epilogue created specifically for this DVD. When the series wasn’t picked up for a third season, unanswered questions were left dangling in the season finale. ABC agreed to let the cast and crew film a brief epilogue that gives an actual conclusion to the series. The catch was that ABC wouldn’t finance it themselves, forcing the creators to put their own personal money into the conclusion. As such, the presentation is more confined than a normal episode, and it’s been shot with digital cameras rather than film.