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May 2, 2006 |

By Seth Freilich | TV | May 2, 2006 |

As a reasonably intelligent man with a law degree approaching his 30th birthday, I will still proudly admit this: I love “The O.C.”; or, more specifically, the show’s first season … well, except for the whole Oliver thing. Oliver can suck a nut.

Last season? Bunk, pure and simple. Sure, there were moments of deliciousness here and there (e.g., the Julie Cooper porn storyline), but overall, the whole fucking shebang was a huge let down on scale with every single year’s VMA awards. In short order: Seth was too smug and self-aware (and damn it - nobody named Seth should ever be smug cause we ain’t never got shit to be smug about!); without the fighting and bad-boy shit, Ryan became this undefined amorphous lobotomized-Russell-Crowe guy; Sandy’s character arc was bizarre and out of context - there is no reason to have an adulterous affair with a chick not half as hot as Kelly Rowan, unless you’re inexplicably controlled by your eyebrows, which would have been an awesome storyline; and I won’t even talk about the ridiculous drunk-mommy Kirsten bullshit. Oh, and then to top matters off: They got rid of one of the few generally likable characters in the show, Jimmy Cooper, and then ended up killing off his replacement, Caleb, to make room for Jimmy’s return. Feh. One big fucking Feh.

So I’m coming into this third season with a fuck-ton of skepticism, none of which is alleviated by the first few minutes of the episode, which begins at the end of summer, because God knows “The O.C.” couldn’t exist without the high school setting. Anyway, the first thing we learn is that, according to Sandy, “the kids have been through a lot,” over the summer, though we are told and shown none of this “a lot” business. The whole Trey-situation, meanwhile, still looms over everyone’s head, and stuff that probably would/should have happened during those interesting summer months seems to have been put in some sort of weird stasis, agreeably waiting for the fall premiere. Of course, the whole Trey thing doesn’t seem to matter much anyway because - without giving any details away - they pretty much wrap it all up in this first hour.

At this point, I need to side track myself for a moment to rail a bit on Marissa Cooper and the “actress” who plays her, Mischa Barton. First, on the character front, for whatever reason they have now decided to give Marissa a fucking conscious. She rambles on about feeling bad about Trey’s shooting and that she will have to live with it regardless of whether he lives or dies, and blah, blah, blah fucking blah. When has she ever given a shit about anything that didn’t involve a cigarette and a Tic Tac? Put a goddamn drink in her hand, damn it! Have her pass out in TJ again, damn it! Them’s good times. Of course, the concern here is that - if she picks up a drink - her fucking arm might fall off. That drunk bitch is bone thin, man!

Which leads me to the real person: Ms. Barton. Now, let’s get some shit straight, OK? She was never a good actress; I’ll admit that straight off. But, goddamn, is she actually getting worse as the show progresses? I mean, at this point, a too-skinny fucking log could probably play her part just as well. Maybe Mischa should follow Marissa’s former life plan and get on the goddamn sauce; at least then, we might get the occasional Tara Reid nipple-slipping shenanigans, and god knows it can’t hurt her questionable acting abilities. At this point, the only way to get this girl to show actual pain is to shove a fucking plate of lasagna in front of her.

Rant over.

My biggest problem with this episode, and with much of last season, is that the wit and humor dried up quicker than bottle of “Real World” Popov. Granted, the show had to deal with some “serious” issues, but in the first season, even in the most serious of times, there were laughs aplenty. Here, I maybe chuckled maybe twice, and one of those chuckles resulted from an admittedly cheap line about seamen (the other was a well-put quizzical observation about that great movie of movies, Teen Wolf). Seth’s character - the source of so much of the humor in season one - seems to be following the same path he was on in season two, and this displeases me. Seth needs to go back to being utterly uncool, and single, and self-deprecatingly mad at the world. That’s somebody I can relate with.

Speaking of characters, I already sorely miss Caleb. Granted, having Jimmy Cooper back, for now at least, is a nice counter-balance (I have always loved the great Tate Donovan, thanks to his starring role in Space Camp, which also featured my personal 80’s crush, Lea Thompson), but it’s not the same thing. Without Caleb there to play the villain, they’re going to have to rely more on his widow; and while Julie-as-villain is definitely entertaining, I suspect that’s going to wear thin pretty quickly. And I refuse to talk about the Kirsten in rehab bit, even though it does leads to a nice guest starring role from Jeri Ryan. Huzzah!

Finally, this premiere shows that things between Ryan and Marissa appear to be pretty much all good, and Seth and Summer also appear pretty hunky-dory. That’s no goddamn good for anybody. If the show doesn’t stir that pot up and right-quick, this is going to be a terrible season, even in relation to last year’s antic-less piffle. At the moment, I have faith that the writers will correct this issue, but my faith is worn thin, folks. Mischa fucking Barton thin.

So there you have it. I walked into this episode skeptical and I leave just as skeptical. The only saving grace is that creator Josh Schwartz has acknowledged that this premiere episode was essentially designed to wrap up last season and that, by the Fox break for baseball playoffs, we the viewer will see that “the show will move on.”

And I must admit that, if nothing else, the premier ep did give me a new goal in life: One day, I hope to be in the position to revise my resume so that it lists, under extracurricular activities, that I, too, “shoot blue collar thugs.”


Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television columnist. He lives in Washington, D.C., and couldn’t be happier that summer “intern season” is finally here.

"The O.C." / The TV Whore
August 22, 2005

TV | May 2, 2006 |

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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