October Road may not be the most clever show on TV, but the ABC drama — which returns Thursday at 10 p.m. before settling in its new Monday-at-10 p.m. timeslot on Nov. 26 — does have something going for it: a smart publicist. After reading our PopWatch post titled 'October Road' is returning, and we're feeling how about that?, a rep for creators Scott Rosenberg, Josh Appelbaum, and André Nemec suggested we speak to the triad to find out what’s in store for season 2; in a roundabout way, answer the question we posed at the end of our blog item (”What can producers do to the show to make us not want to kill ourselves? Or them?”); and learn when Geoff Stults, who plays hometown hero Eddie Latekka, will be seen shirtless…
Okay, that last part was persuasive.
Here, seven reasons it might be time to risk another trip down October Road. WARNING: Major spoilers ahead.
1. You can’t possibly dislike the series as much as you think you do.
According to the good-humored exec producers, they always knew they weren’t exactly making The West Wing, but they never anticipated the trouncing they took from critics last season. ”I’ve literally made a many, many s—ty movie in my career, and I’ve never gotten such hateful reviews,” says Rosenberg (Kangaroo Jack, Con Air). ”To me, the show’s a cardigan sweater. It’s a Joni Mitchell record on a rainy day. It’s a cup of hot chocolate. You may not necessarily like hot chocolate or Joni Mitchell or cardigan sweaters, but why would you violently hate hot chocolate and Joni Mitchell and cardigan sweaters? There are shows like Who Wants to Marry My Cousin’s Wife? that got better reviews than October Road. It’s a cozy show about a writer who comes back to his hometown and falls back in love. You would think we were decapitating bunny rabbits. Like it was Michael Vick’s 101 Dalmatians.”
So where did this cup of cocoa leave off? Prodigal son/novelist Nick (Prime’s Bryan Greenberg) finally told Hannah (That ’70s Show’s Laura Prepon), the high school love he abandoned 10 years ago, that he wanted her and her son, Sam, in his life. Unfortunately, the man Hannah claims is Sam’s father was visiting, so she didn’t respond. ”Big Cat” Ray Cataldo (Warren Christie) broke the news to Owen (Brad William Henke) that his wife was having an affair with his best friend Ikey (Evan Jones), and Owen left town. Eddie (Stults) broke down in front of Janet (Rebecca Field), the bartender he’s clearly attracted to but sometimes wishes was hotter, and admitted that he’s only happy when he’s with her. And agoraphobe Physical Phil (Jay Paulson) ventured outside his home long enough to hold the hand of Pizza Girl (Lindy Booth), then retreated. (If none of that made any sense to you and you’d like it to, catch up on season 1’s six episodes anytime at abc.com, or on Saturday, Nov. 24, at noon ET on SOAPnet, when there’s a marathon.)
2. Geoff Stults will be shirtless in season 2’s seventh episode.
And it’s not just a gratuitous workout scene. We asked. ”No, he and Janet will make love for the first time,” Rosenberg says, ”and we’re making sort of a big deal about it. We don’t casually toss people into bed — every time somebody sleeps together on our show it has meaning and seismic repercussions. It’s nerve-wracking for both Eddie and Janet in their own way. It’s a huge scene for us, and he is shirtless for most of it.”
3. Gilmore Girls’ Sean Gunn is a recurring guest star.
You remember him as Stars Hollow’s resident buffoon Kirk, and the producers, who worked with Gunn on the 2001 Showtime series Going to California, hired him to bring some much-needed wit to Sully’s bar, where his character Rooster (he’s sportin’ a modified mohawk) works alongside Janet as of this season’s second episode. ”Even though he’s a part of our town, he’s a little bit like an outsider and he’s able to comment on everybody and kind of take the piss out of our world a little bit, out of our soap opera. He’s just got that great delivery,” Appelbaum says. ”Rooster is gonna play real heavily into the Eddie-Janet storyline in that sort of Duckie-in-Pretty in Pink way. He kinda pines after Janet, and down the road, he will be both a friendly ear to her as she’s navigating the emotional waters of dating Eddie Latekka, and carrying a torch for her. At some point later in the season, all that will explode in a big way… Some fans are gonna be cheering for what goes down, and some fans are gonna be throwing something at their TV.”
4. Stacy Keibler guest stars. (But only once.)
Stults’ real-life love interest, Dancing With the Stars’ and What About Brian’s Stacy Keibler, drops in for the season’s 12th episode. ”She was the high school prom queen and Eddie Latekka’s girlfriend, and she left town, broke Eddie’s heart, and married a businessman. Turns out that her husband was gay, and she’s now come back to the Ridge to lick her wounds. Her return sends a chill, obviously, up Janet’s spine,” Appelbaum says. ”And how that plays out — how Eddie and the Keibler character react, how Janet reacts, how the insecurities bubble — is a cause of great friction.”
Other guest stars this season include Armand Assante in a two-episode arc as Aubrey’s father. (Yes, Aubrey — the graduate student played by Odette Yustman who wanted more than a good grade from Nick — is back.) And Alias’ Kevin Weisman, who makes a brief appearance as a college professor.
NEXT PAGE: Ryan Adams!