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Do Over aired from September until December 2002 on the WB.

Newton Mashachusetts, outside Boston was the setting for this fantasy comedy, one of two " back to the future" failures that premiered in the fall of 2002 ( the other, ABC's That Was Then). Joel ( Penn Badgley), was an unhappy, unmarried 34 year old salesman whose life changed completely when his sister, Cheryl accidentally used the defibrillation panels from an EMS van on his head. When Joel (Penn Badgley), woke up, it was 1981 and he was a 14 year old who knew what would happen over the next 20 years. He was all to aware of the problems that would beset his family. Cheryl ( Angela Goethals), was a rebellious teen whose future drug abuse would mess up her life, and his parents were on the road to divorce, Bill ( Michael Milhoan), his dad, was an unromantic chauvinest pig who didn't want anything to change, while Karen ( Gigi Rice), his mom, was enthusiastic and creative and stifled by her husband's lack of interest in her ideas. Joel had 2 close friends at school-Isabelle(Natasha Melnick), the intellectual, and Pat ( Josh Wise), to whom he had confided his secret ( Pat called him " future guy"). Holly ( Melinda Sward), was the sexy girl he was to shy to ask out. Pat wanted Joel to take advantage of his knowledge of the future but Joel just wanted to change things for the better. He won a class election that he had originaly lost, prevented the teacher who broke up his parent's marriage from hitting on his mom, tried to save Cheryl from a succession of bad relationships and encouraged his momwhen she wanted to start her own business. Much of his time was spent trying to keep his parents marriage together by getting Bill to show more interest in Karen. Do Over was narrated by the adult Joel ( Tom Everett Scott).

An Article from Time Magazine

Television: Look Back In Angst
By James Poniewozik Monday, Sep. 23, 2002

If you're anxious about life today, TV this fall is inviting you to journey to a happier time. A time when ketchup was a vegetable, when Saddam Hussein was a strategic ally, when children went to school, teenagers courted and families thrived with no greater worries than the possibility that they might at any moment be incinerated in a global nuclear war.

If programmers are correct, the state of the American psyche is such that suicide attacks and anthrax anxiety have made the cold war seem cozy. TV-series reunion specials last season drew big ratings, attributed to viewers' desire to escape into the past after Sept. 11. The networks are looking to capitalize on this trend with new comedies and dramas that look back to the Kennedy and Reagan eras. On NBC's drama American Dreams (Sundays, 8 p.m. E.T.), set in 1963 Philadelphia, 15-year-old Meg Pryor (Brittany Snow) achieves her dream of dancing on American Bandstand. Fox's Oliver Beene (coming this winter) takes a comedic look at the same era. Two forthcoming shows set in the '80s are a strange manifestation of TV's collective unconscious. In both ABC's drama That Was Then (Fridays, 9 p.m. E.T.) and the WB's sitcom Do Over (Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. E.T.), a salesman in his 30s gets transported back in time to relive high school, fix his parents' marriage, win over the unrequited love of his life and avoid flubbing a speech in front of the school. (Happy teens, apparently, do not become TV writers.)

Do Over executive producer Warren Littlefield, once a programming executive at NBC, knows a thing or two about TV trend chasing. "I'm sure [Sept. 11] was a factor," he says. "We're in a conservative time, where simplification and wish fulfillment are very appealing." The wish on the two '80s shows is essentially an extension of the moving-back-home premise of series like Providence--getting to improve your childhood and thus becoming a different and better person as an adult. Do Over plays it more broadly, with plenty of moderately funny pop-culture references. That Was Then plays down the hairstyle humor, opting for a (fairly muddled) romantic-comedy plot in which the hero fights his brother for his high school love. "It's not a nostalgia show about the '80s," says co-creator Jeremy Miller. "It's a nostalgia show about high school."

Dreams, on the other hand, is old-school nostalgia: a misty-lens look at the past that shows how the '60s' social change roiled one blue-collar family: Mom is dissatisfied; Dad feels the patriarchy slipping away; daughter Meg is seduced by the forbidden libidinal beat of Motown. The Bandstand story line, with archival footage courtesy of co-producer Dick Clark, provides a baby-boomer-friendly sound track. (On TV, American history is the history of TV.) Plots about feminism and civil rights flatter us about how far we have come. And the blue-collar, Catholic setting is free of modern jadedness. "It was not a more innocent time," says Dreams creator Jonathan Prince. "I'm not that naive. But maybe we lost something when we gave up that time around the dining-room table."

Perhaps. But Dreams' cloying earnestness makes jadedness look attractive. If you weren't convinced kids were different in 1963, we see the spun-sugar Meg actually skip across a hopscotch grid on the way home to watch Bandstand. The historical references are clumsy: a son arguing with his father declares, "Kennedy says it's time for new dreams and new frontiers!" Speaking of J.F.K., the pilot begins on a snowy day in November, setting up the hackneyed loss-of-innocence climax so obviously that you half expect a TV to crackle, "And in other news, President Kennedy will be assassinated in three days."

The more satirical Oliver Beene acknowledges that the '60s were not all cheap catharsis and the Mashed Potato. Whereas American Dreams' touchstone is Bandstand, Beene's is Lenny Bruce, who is the idol of the 11-year-old protagonist (Grant Rossenmeyer). The pilot finds the family hunkering in a basement bomb shelter during the Cuban missile crisis, with the parents squabbling over who will dispose of any bodies they find outside. ("It's always me!" Mom grouses. "Doing the dishes, washing the windows, burying the dead!") "I think any warm and fuzzy image of the past is wrong," says creator Howard Gewirtz. "I was around back then. There were dysfunctional families. If anything, the world situation was more threatening."

And back then, we joked about it--if not on TV, then in movies like Dr. Strangelove. (TV worked more elliptically, through cold-war anxiety parables such as those on the Twilight Zone, which, by the way, returns this fall on UPN, hosted by Forrest Whitaker.) If a writer turned Beene's bomb-shelter scene into a bioterror scare in a sitcom set in the present, it wouldn't make it past the first-draft stage at a major network. Perhaps that's the hidden value of cultural nostalgia. It hints that the past was not better but worse than today, allowing us to exorcise forbidden thoughts about the present. Why do we believe the past was a happier, safer place than today? Maybe simply because we survived it. And because we didn't have love handles back then.

Already Dreams' Prince is chafing at critics' "trying to make a big deal of the trend. 'In the shadow of 9/11,'" he says, "'are people looking back for comfort?' Well, yes. Shouldn't they be? That's what [TV] is supposed to do." (Yes, NBC promoted Dreams heavily during its Sept. 11-anniversary coverage.) These shows aren't alone. Besides the Twilight Zone, this season offers remakes of such cold-war fare as Family Affair, Dragnet and The Time Tunnel. Hairspray has brought a campier take on the early '60s to Broadway. And, as Littlefield notes, "Who was the big winner at the box office? Spider-Man."

If it's true, though--if we really are backtracking culturally out of anxiety--that's not necessarily something to be proud of. America's defiantly edgy, offensive, on-to-the-next-new-thing pop culture is part of what defines us in the world (and, often, what enrages our enemies). Is running into the warm skirts of the past what a vital, confident nation does? The networks, of course, have smaller concerns, namely that television trend chasing often ends up several months behind the national mood. Even Littlefield predicts, "There will be a show that cuts against the [nostalgia] grain and will be a huge success." In other words, the networks may so exhaust the retro trend du jour that viewers look for something completely different--and new. And that really is the oldest story on TV.

To watch clips of Do Over go to

for Tim's TV Showcase go to

For a website dedicated to Tom Everett Scott go to

For a review of Do Over go to

To watch the opening credits from Do Over go to
Date: Mon July 10, 2006 � Filesize: 44.6kb � Dimensions: 326 x 400 �
Keywords: Do Over: Cast Photo


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