Phantom Planet: Escape to The OC

Summer and Seth are still doing the dirty deed...Fantasy worlds have really been quite popular lately. It makes sense – the next few months will be nightmarish no matter what you think about anything, so why not live like the dungeon masters? You’d darn your frayed tunic, and inexplicably start attaching “Mr.” to your friends’ first names. If however you’re like me, and an elitist streak makes you at the very best lawful evil, then you’ll never make it in the land of magic missles and dexterity. You might instead take as your fantasy refuge the gleaming Cali artifice that is the TV Orange County, Newport, “The OC.” Now is the time, cynical Race of Man! To help with your quest, Glorious Noise will provide a running interpretation of events in “The OC.” It won’t be an episode summary; it won’t be objective. It probably won’t even be politically correct, to use a phrase from a different fantasmical era. But it will revel weekly in the frivolous escapism of a TV show about cool teenagers and boobs, and the conflicted, sarcastic parents who love them. The teenagers, that is. So dive in to this well-bred fantasy, because it’s better than that escape hatch to Bangkok idea you’ve been planning for November. One night in Newport will make a hard man humble.

JTL


If you read Glorious Noise’s earlier “OC” piece, you’re at least mostly up to speed. But the dispatches below – covering the previous three episodes – will further prepare your “Navy NCIS” and “Whoopi”-watching ass for next Wednesday night, when your “OC” fantasy will officially begin. Don’t care about this? Well, you’re fired. Head for the street.

Feb 19 – LOVIN’ EVERY MINUTE OF IT

I know I say this every week, but last night’s was the best “OC” episode ever. The pole position goes to Summer. Remember back last, er, summer? When the show first aired and we were all in a tizzy over the oh-so-petite, yet big in all the right places brunette? And then Anna showed up, with her kooky indie style and porcelain features. Suddenly Summer was last, the dirty dishrag fifth wheel with plenty of sass but none of the sex appeal. Well get out the bonnets and brie, because our girl is back. Discovering new and faster ways to remove a Juicy is Summer, the owner of a rack that bleeds sunshine. Just ask our man Seth, who couldn’t resist those thangs. Fuck, ask Sandy Cohen. He just about gave son Seth a chest bump when he found out who the kid did it with. Poison deadly movin’ it slow – lookin’ for a mellow fellow like DeVoe.

So let’s hear it for our girl Summer, who turned out to be less experienced than her precious Princess Sparkle, matching the ineptitude of Seth and Cap’n Oats. But props also have to go to Luke, who followed through on last week’s promise by busting in on Julie Cooper’s tipsy Bob Seger parade. He’s just young and restless and bored, but Julie’s only two of those. Best of all? Luke laid Marissa, too, back last summer. Damn, bitch!

Speaking of the combo meal, what the fuck is wrong with Jimmy Cooper? Old boy figures out comely Hailey is still in town and makes her dinner, only to beg off the chicken because he already ate at Kirsten’s house. Fucking tosser. Either he and Sandy’s restaurant starts to happen or he runs off to Bali with Hailey and clears the way for more interesting melodrama.

As for Ryan Atwood, his tortured eyebrow act is getting older than Michael Douglas’s balls. While the new Luke is more dynamic than the old, I’m starting to wish he was still a frat boy badass so he could give Ryan a good beating. English, motherfucker! Do you speak it?! Say something, Chino, because your Fantastic Sam’s act is getting stale.

JTL

Feb 26 – MAKE IT CLAP

There are two kinds of “OC”s. On one hand – most agree it’s the better one – you have the heady, holy-shit-I’m-crushing-my-beer-can-with-glee hour of power, where the spaghetti straps fly off with fury and the banter is better than a blow job from Selma Blair. (See “Sweetest Thing” – aka The Coolest Movie Ever – for reference.) However, with every hot rackin’ Valentine’s Day “OC” episode, there’s the counterbalance of a show full of bundled plot points. Last night’s show had to work overtime setting up future-episode drama; luckily, it still found time for the cocktail of cheap sex and heavy moralizing that makes “The OC” completely irresistible.

In one corner there’s the ball-less, silver-haired Caleb Nichol. The real estate mogul is trying to ensnare Sandy in a sticky web of shady business dealings (This guy’s crooked? No…), using Kirsten – ahem, “Kiki” – and the Cohen family cashflow as carrots. Aw Caleb, you should know our man Sandy isn’t going to play your game! A free spirit at heart and everyman hero to the audience, he’d be content surfing and living out of his car. But we’ll see – previews for next week foreshadowed some dirty politics of both the business and family kind. Caleb undoubtedly knows it takes more than a cheap threat to get to Sandy. But, instead of thinking about it too much he tried to fuck it off of his mind, showing up at sometime-flame Julie Cooper’s house for what she knowingly termed a booty call. Well, not so fast Father Time! In one of the boldest, most “Melrose Place” turns of the “OC” world yet, Julie’s getting busy with our boy Luke, who’s now meeting her in motels to blast. The subtext there is killer. Caleb might not have any stones, but the “OC”‘s writers sure do, consistently getting away with some very un “Seventh Heaven”-like behavior for its crop of teens. Slap it up, flip it, rub it down, ohhh nooo…

In keeping with its love for bad-timing walk-ins, last night’s “OC” toyed with us by placing Ryan’s dark-eyed Chino ex in the motel room next to Luke and Julie’s lovenest, suggesting someone from the inner circle might discover their lov-a-makin’ at any second. A ha! We just fuckin’ with y’all! No one found out, despite Marissa going over to Theresa’s to talk about Ryan. Yeah, that shit’s still going on. Scared little fawn that she is, Marissa can’t tell Chino how she feels, and that deaf mute douchebag is getting less and less interesting as the season goes on. Wrap! It! Up! Bitch! Say something, cracker! All I heard in the preseason was how great of an actor this kid is. Well, so far he can’t spit out word one to save his ass, not even when that articulated facial hair guy from the first season of “24” – who also played the ex-boyfriend of that girl on “Six Feet Under” – shows up as Theresa’s suitor. Ryan comes home to find him sitting in the driveway in his bitchin’ El Camino, wondering if Atwood’s seen his girl, who he’s technically engaged to. “Nah man, I haven’t seen her,” Chino can only mumble from behind his bangs, despite knowing he’s going to leave Marissa for the heretofore allegedly betrothed Theresa. As trying as Ryan Abbot’s love life has become, this new triangle is a promising development, as it will inevitably cause fists to fly. Milo says: welcome back to Chino, bitch!

ahh, Summer...Meanwhile, Summer (pause – cue the Super Furry Animals – ahh, Summer…) and Seth are still doing the dirty deed, but don’t talk to her at school and don’t even try to hold her hand. Don’t hate, though. It turns out Old Girl’s just a softie at heart. She’s sick of dudes dumping her in front of the whole school. Know who finds this out for the terminally tongue-tied, convinced-it’s-him-not-her Seth? Yes, Wise Anna, who also happens to be thinking about moving back to Pittsburgh. Uh oh, cue the race-to-the-airport sequence that I just saw on “ER” a couple of weeks ago. We’ll see what happens with that, but in the meantime there’s the business of the banter between the embattled bedmates. Seth’s on a sex strike! “Don’t ‘acknowledge’ me privately if you won’t acknowledge our relationship publicly,” he says, and he’s gonna walk the picket line until she does. “You’ll cave,” Summer snorts. “Fight the Power!” Seth retorts, complete with classic raised fist. Not to mention the Lech Walesa reference later. And, as goddamn annoying as Ryan and Marissa’s “trying to be friends” bullshit is – entire scenes played out in a series of shy glances and raised eyebrows – the running joke that the two never were friends to begin with was pretty funny. Here’s to next week, and more clunky Death Cab for Cutie references.

JTL

March 4 – FIVE LEAVES LEFT

You don’t have to be fitness celebrity John Basedow to know an abstastic reference when you hear it, and Anna citing Shadyside’s Record Village as a reason for returning to Pittsburgh certainly was one. But everyone knows chins are the new nose, right? It’s details like these that sweeten “The OC” pot, even if they signal equally the sour times of maligned elitism. “Hey,” we bold elitists say. “You can’t just play Journey’s ‘Separate Ways [Worlds Apart]’ on Fox. Don’t you understand? Arena rock revisionism is OUR job!” But that’s what happens when the network gives a kid with half a brain the reins to a snarky teen melodrama. And what do you know? Drop a few Death Cab For Cutie references (I swear Ben Gibbard has a shoebox full of dirty polaroids starring the show’s braintrust) and make your adults at least as interesting as the kids – or, er, have moms doing the deed with daughter’s ex-beaus – and you have a TV addiction tailored not only to the 99 percenters, the dullards, but also those highfalutin track jacket-wearing motherfuckers you see skulking at Diesel with cigarette eyes.

Honestly, who can’t love a show with two Awkward Walk-In moments in the first thirty seconds? Dark-eyed Chino beauty Theresa is all like “Oh, I was off today so I thought I’d see if you guys needed a ride to work,” as Ryan and Seth are conveniently talking about the tight spot her presence presents. But yo, cue the twittering birds and happy-go-lucky forest animals (where’s that squirrel wrangler? ON SET!), because it’s the little lost fawn Marissa entering the pool house. So coquettish that one, like a foal’s first day on the new knees. Oh and it’s so much drama up in “The OC.” But beauties busting through their house doesn’t faze Sandy and Kirsten. They have their own problems. The DA (hey look, a black guy!) has a hard-on for Caleb Nichol, who’s shady real estate firm he refers to as “Orange County’s Enron.” Sandy the Goldenhearted’s stuck in the middle (See? It’s just like Ryan with Marissa and Theresa! Synergy is the shit!), trying to be just and honest but knowing Kirsten gets smeared with Caleb’s backroom pimp juice if he plays it straight. So he doesn’t. Sandy cuts a deal with the lumber baron of the West Coast and gets Caleb – and Kirsten – off. Now, isn’t “lumber baron” an odd characterization for the gleaming halls of Newport? Sure it’s real estate and development, and I’m sure there are dudes that control lumber companies with an iron fist. Well, maybe ebony fists – they’re wood guys, after all. But anyway, hasn’t the term “lumber baron” gone the way of frocked wigs, waistcoats, and old fogies smoking opium? It just seems a bit antiquated. But that’s just me. Here, hold this codpiece.

Seth really is a flop with chicks. He’s been that way since episode six, and nothing’s changed, even when he’s lounging on the hood of a BMW, necking with Summer (Pause. Cue Super Furry Animals. Ahh, Summer…) The poor kid’s got Anna on the brain, see, now that the blonde indie wonder is jetting back to Steel Town. As usual, he thinks it’s his fault, and kvetches even while kissing the comely Summer. “Here’s a towel for your pussy, Seth,” her eyes say. “It’s dripping all over the hood of Beemer.” But Summer understands for some reason, and mommy wow, Seth’s a big kid now, so he confronts Anna. And there’s your Record Village reference, and a bit about the changing seasons that was heartening to us Midwesterners. And we begin to wonder why Anna’s leaving the show, but it will all become clear by the end f the day. Before that happens however, there’s the long-awaited punch-out of Ryan Atwood by his Chino Nemesis, Eddie. You know, the guy who’s engaged to Theresa, the dark-eyed Chino ex-ladyfriend of Ryan who he just got done laying? The little lost fawn thinks the way back to Ryan’s heart is through gussying up his low income ex, so she brings her a fancy dress and the two show up at the Cohen House for Caleb Nichol’s swearing in ceremony, or award ceremony, or whatever – it wasn’t made clear just what was happening, just that it was two-faced move for the one-dimensional Caleb character. Anyway, Summer’s there too, naturally, and just as the silver-haired idiot is accepting his bauble, the articulated facial hair of Eddie puts a roundhouse beatin’ on Ryan. The more-wooden-than-a-lumber-baron actor who plays Chino does his usual double-leg takedown, a table breaks, and next thing you know Luke is showing Eddie the door. And as Awkward Walk-In contrived as it all was, it was so worth it to see that silence is golden douche bag get punched in the face. It was better than Luke fisting Julie Cooper, which probably happened later.

So all the storylines that haunted us so are over. Seth did run to the airport, and he did plead for Anna to stay, and she did give him the Heisman in front of the Homeland Security guy. But at least he still has Summer. (Pause…) Ryan’s dark-eyed lovely high-tailed it rightly back to Eddie and the wrong side of the tracks; turned out the dark side was calling and nothing was real, and she finally knew just how to feel. Kirsten and Caleb’s company is essentially on the up-and-up, that tosser Jimmy Cooper probably knows what’s up with his ex and our boy Luke, and the coquettish foal is still waiting for Atwood to come back. Where will the “The OC” take us next? What hip song will it tie to a scene? Just how many geeks are growing out their weaves and buying slim-fitting suit jackets as we speak, pleading with the clerk at Record Village to explain emo? “I want to be just like Seth!” they scream. But deep down, they know: The geek-cool archetype is a tough gig to get in the real world. Hollywood loves it, but that shit’s harder to pull off in real life than going through life as a really really extremely good looking deaf mute who lives in a pool house and has poon tang climbing through the windows but acts like he can’t stand it. Next week: Luke hits on Caitlin and plays Death Cab on the guitar!

JTL

8 thoughts on “Phantom Planet: Escape to The OC”

  1. Well they wrapped things up rather neatly before the (4 week?) hiatus. Good synopsis, JTL.

    That Ryan guy was on Carson Daley and he’s just as dull for real. Carson, a former for-real-OC-er himself, was kinda giving him some shit.

    “nothing was real, and she finally knew just how to feel”

    – source, please? it’s driving me crazy!

    I lived right down the street from the Record Village for 2 years. PGH was soooooo dull.

  2. “nothing was real, and she finally knew just how to feel”

    “On The Dark Side” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, from Eddie And The Cruisers, ha ha.

  3. JTL wrote: ‘The geek-cool archetype is tough gig to get in the real world.’

    Oh Johnny, I think I have pictures dating back 4-5 years which feature you, real world style, making it looks like an easier gig than it is.

    Cue JTL with rouge-ish cheeks

  4. So, never having actually watched OC – if you removed all the indie music from it what would you have? It kinda sounds like Melrose Place with occasional bouts of Spoon.

    I’m not bashing it, I’m just askin…

  5. Shecky, that pretty much sums it up. But it’s more like Beverly Hills 90210 + occasional bouts of Spoon + the sex of Melrose Place + interesting adult characters + snappy, clever, post-Seinfeld dialog (i.e., self-depracating Jewish humor) + more fun + more sex.

    It’s about time we got a new Melrose/90210. We need it now more than ever!

  6. Love GloNo’s expansionism — first a record label and now regular OC interpretations. Can’t wait to find out what’s next.

    If any of y’all are looking for an episode summary, to supplement these interpretations, check: http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com. It’s almost as good as GloNo.

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