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Thirty-four-year-old Joel Larsen gets a second chance to get his life right, thanks to a freakish accident that catapults him back to 1981. Blessed with adult wisdom, though hampered by adolescent urges, Joel sets out to right the wrongs that will befall his family. Written by
I've often wondered what I would differently if I could return to my childhood. It seems creators Schwartz, Wiener et al also have had this idea, but they didn't settle to wonder, they decided to show. And that's where the idea of 'Do Over' stems from.
The setting is that Joel Larson, in his thirties and disappointed with his life, gets into a freak accident, and is sent 20 years into the past, into his teen years in the 80s. Incredulous at first, he soon starts to accept that he really is reliving his youth, and that he has the chance to try and use his knowledge of the future to better that future for himself and the people immediately around him. He finds out, though, that just knowing how things went wrong doesn't make it easy to make them right. This is also one of the strengths of the show: it doesn't take the easy way out, where Joel is able to change whatever he wants, but instead has to settle for compromises, and even finds new sides to the events he re-lives.
Penn Badgley in the main role strikes a believable chord as a teenager, but one that knows something that others don't. Supporting him as his friends are Josh Wise and Natasha Melnick, both personal and interesting individuals that stand separate from usual teen stereotypes. Melnick's role Isabelle Meyers is especially noteworthy, since she has an exceptionally well written female role, showing much more depth and independence than the majority of on-screen teenage girls. The casting for Joel's family is spot-on as well. His father and mother are no hollow fill-in roles, and since they have a major influence even in Joel's second life, it's natural that their characters are well developed as well. Gigi Rice as the sister seems to get a little less attention, though.
The theme of "do over" is carried subtly through all the episodes, although there is variation between episodes where Joel's knowledge affects more mundane, but no less interesting, affairs, and ones where he strives for major changes compared to his previous life as it was. All this is delivered through excellent, intelligent writing, with plenty of humor throughout the show as well. It often borders on the comedic, with some great laughs to be had, but since this isn't really a sitcom, there is no obnoxious laugh track. It all makes for exciting, interesting and engaging viewing, and even though the show was cut short, it is absolutely worth it to see what there is of it.
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