Since I’ve already come clean about my long history as a loyal Camdenite, it seems only natural that I write briefly about what has become of the stars of 7th Heaven. Barry Watson went on to do failed sophomore drama What About Bryan and then comedy Samantha Who? for ABC; David Gallagher replaced Watson in the Boogeyman sequel and also headlined The Picture Of Dorian Gray; while Jessica Biel has done projects ranging from Blade Trinity to Cameron Crowe’s maddeningly disappointing Elizabethtown. But we of course knew this already. What triggered my interest in revisiting the ranks of Heaven alumni, was the fact that Scotty Leavenworth reportedly was spotted in this week’s episode of ABC’s still blockbustery Desperate Housewives.
I won’t hold it against you if you don’t remember who Scotty Leavenworth is, but even if you didn’t take note of him during his one season run as a Heaven regular, you might, at different times, have seen him in such movies as Simon Birch, My Life As A House or Donnie Darko. If you watch the delightfully quirky Darko, you can’t avoid him. He’s that who talks about Donnie in the immediate aftermath of Gary Jules’ powerful Mad World. He was also a regular on Steven Bocho one-season drama Philly a couple of years ago.
But to me, he still is Peter Petrowski, Ruthie Camden’s first longer-term boyfriend (meaning for more than one episode, and actually talked about as such) on 7th Heaven. Leavenworth was only in his early teens back then, and his acting of course was nothing to make a fuzz about. The reason why I’ve kept an eye on him, is because I like his character on the show, in some weird way. I’ve written previously about how I think the best episodes were those that spelled out its moralistic intentions in broad terms, and Leavenworth had his part in many of these. In Smoking, for example, that socially insecure loser Peter feels compelled to admit to Ruthie that he thinks smoking is cool, which of course warrants a mini-Inquisition to rid Peter of his unhealthy habit and to convince him that coolness is overrated. Though at times painstakingly transparent in its intentions, it’s also a great laugh. Though I generally have an emotional bond to the goings on in Glenoak, such an episode could not be tolerable without a little dose of cynicism. Or take High And Dry, the episode where Leavenworth’s Peter has to declare himself ‘Sorry for all the drinking and the lies‘ to Ruthie, after having committed the obviously unforgivable sin of simply looking at a can of beer in a Glenoak public park, complete with long-absent, previously alcoholic father lecturing him on the peril of under-age drinking. Not exactly subtle, but quite entertaining still.
Seasons seven and eight, during which Leavenworth was part of the show, it received much criticism from fans for giving such peripheral characters as Peter independent storylines, arguing that it stole the focus from show’s backbone, the Camden family. I always enjoyed his storylines, even though some of them were extremely silly, and those that were not, often were mere launching pads for message-heavy moralism, or maybe for just that reason. For many Camdenites, the first four-or-so seasons are seen as the show’s golden years, but to me Simon’s and Ruthie’s struggles with teenagehood in later season were far more interesting. However platonic and non-threatening, Ruthie’s relationship with Peter marked a rite of passage for the youngest Camden female. Underlining the point, Peter pops by in season nine, only to immediately become Ruthie’s make-out buddy.
And now, that make-out buddy’s status seemingly has elevated to one of the most popular shows on broadcast. Was there another point to this post, other than reliving old TV moments? Oh, y’know, he’s cute (Leavenworth, left, same goes for Charles Carver on the right).