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Wood Newton (Burt Reynolds) is a retired pro American Football player who has returned to his childhood home - the small town of Evening Shade, Arkansas. He's now the coach of the local high school Football team, which brings him closer to the other residents of the town.
The sun set on Evening Shade in 1994, but it's morning again for this charmingly laid-back series set in a small Arkansas town populated by a gallery of colorful characters. Evening Shade gave Burt Reynolds what Look Who's Talking gave John Travolta; a career bump after his star had somewhat dimmed. Reynolds would earn a People's Choice Award, an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his tailor-made role as Wood Newton, a former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback who returns to his small town to serve as the high-school football coach. As the series begins, the team is mired in a 30 games-and-counting losing streak. His wife, Ava (Marilu Henner), whom Wood married when she was 18, no sooner launches her campaign for prosecutor, than she learns she is pregnant. Evening Shade was created by Clinton cronies Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (it is said that Hillary suggested the show's setting and title), but the show is a Red Stater's dream; a celebration of small town America and the three F's; family, friends, and faith. In the pilot, Wood bemoans the replacement of the local eatery's jukebox and the substitution of Milli Vanilli and "Me So Horny" for the cherished songs of his youth, like "Blueberry Hill." In "Gambler's Anonymous," get out your tissues when guest star Kenny Rogers sings the stirring "20 Years Ago." Reynolds anchors the series (he also directed eight episodes) and snaps one-liners with his flip panache, but he generously cedes the spotlight to the stellar ensemble of estimable character actors, including Hal Holbrook as Evan, Ava's father and the crusty publisher of the local newspaper, Ossie Davis as Blue, the sage owner of the local barbeque hangout, and whose Our Town-esque narration frames most of the episodes, Charles Durning as the outsized family physician, Michael Jeter, an Emmy-winner as the wimpy-looking math teacher who signs on as Wood's new assistant coach, and Elizabeth Ashley as southern diva Frieda, Ava's aunt. Adding more local color are Nub (Charlie Dell), the slow-witted paperboy (a character that would barely pass PC muster today), Ann Wedgeworth as Merleen, the doc's sexy wife, and Linda Gehringer as Fontana Beausoleil, a striptease artist with a heart of gold. Evening Shade has its own easy-going rhythm, and the same smart and sassy humor the Thomasons brought to Designing Women. In the episode, "Hooray for Wood," a movie crew is in town to film a Civil War miniseries. When a producer mentions they don't have enough blacks for slaves, Blue dryly replies, "Age-old problem." --Donald Liebenson
HAVE TO BE FROM A SMALL COMMUNITY TO APPRECIATE THIS SERIES. LIFE SHOULD BE LIKE HIS.Published 17 days ago by john lee
I really enjoyed this DVD. I wish they had some other seasons for sale, but I have not been able to find anything.Published 2 months ago by German Girl
Great show. Never watched it on television in the 90's but started watching on antenna TV recently. Soooo funny. The cast
Is great. A must in your comedy collection. Read more
I have fond memories of watching evening shade when the kids were small. I hate that it never made into the rerun curcit, so glade that it is out on DVD's. Read morePublished 3 months ago by mim
One of my all-time favorites. I am still waiting for the complete series to come out on DVD.Published 4 months ago by Missie M.
I love this show! Wish there were more seasons available on DVD.Published 5 months ago by Samantha Petsche