The OC: Razzmatazz and Stud Finders

The Care Bear StareTwo-timing, three-timing, tortured looks, and Machiavellian scheming are the talking points of any soap opera. “The OC” acknowledges this – its broad story arcs have nothing on the teen-eat-teen world and war paint of “The Tribe.” However, since its inception, “The OC” has dutifully defined and deepened its characters with a clever combination of understated grace, real world cynicism, and pop culture relevancy. Throwaway moments – eating bagels around the kitchen island, listening to Journey while driving – become opportunities to subtly develop backstories and motivations, often with a wry, knowing humor that’s largely absent from TV land. “Tonight! Richard Moll guest stars on a very special episode of ‘Overweight, Insensitive Guy Is Harangued by Hot, Exasperated Wife’!”


Last night’s “OC” still filled its margins with running jokes about snack bar treats and Seth Cohen’s pre-Summer geek fief, not to mention a series of hilarious allusions to his being ambiguously gay. “How did you know about the Care Bear Stare?” But as the series finale nears, it’s become increasingly difficult for the show to balance its banter and quiet moments of character interaction with the requirements of melodrama. Last night’s episode had to have pulled a muscle, supporting a bloated central plot (The Lighthouse! Jimmy Cooper! Julie Cooper! That bastard Caleb Nichol!) while trying to accommodate Marissa’s ongoing psychosis and Luke’s drunken farewell to both the doe-eyed fawn and Julie. (As it turns out, he used her and she used him, but only one of them cared.)

To alleviate the pressure on its signature (live-action) show, Fox should really give “The OC” a spotter. You know, another program to offset some of the strain at being smart, funny, and beautiful all at once. (Aside to Maggie Gyllenhaal: how do you do it?) This fantasy spotter of Fox’s would share the heft of “The OC”‘s wily cynicism, but amplify it by existing in an environment where crazy has made real life like fantasy, and vice versa. It would need a bold female central character, as a foil to Chino’s sleepwalking reactiveness. But while this female lead would sculpt the show’s voice, there would still be enough for the supporting cast to do in order for their deftly-rendered characters to remain relevant. This imaginary program would derive its darkest, richest humor from supposedly off-limits subjects (lesbianism, blow job-induced infidelity, runaway nuns); it might also admit that human beings often drink alcohol. Especially the young ones!

Well, RIP “Wonderfalls.” At least Fox gave you the old college try for three weeks.

With the axing of “Wonderfalls” (don’t these stuffed shirts see the groundswell of excitement over the “Freaks and Geeks” box? Jeez), “The OC”‘s only support comes from “American Idol” and the callous, self-esteem daisy cutter that is “The Swan.” Sure, there’s “24.” But even if that show’s finally found a groove with just a few hours left, for all I know about what’s going on, Jack Bauer’s going to need to tag team with Sidney and Vaughan to stop the Covenant from unleashing more of Rimbaldi’s virus. No, Chino and Seth and Summer and the gang’ll get no help from CTU or the CIA. It’s up to them to lessen the melodrama a bit and accentuate character relationships that have been running on vapors for a couple of episodes now. Last night’s best moments were between Seth and Summer. They’ve settled into a genuine and believable relationship based on smarmy comment and a comfort with one another, but we haven’t been privy to how it exactly came about, since the specter of Marissa’s batshit craziness looms, and Caleb Nichol is still the only game in town for the moral compasses of Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows. First the White Devil loaned Sanford money to buy The Lighthouse. Now he’s buying it back, and marrying the ex-wife of Sandy’s disgraced business partner. That! Makes! Julie! Kirsten’s! Stepmom! See how contrived this is? It’s nasty, fun, silly, and even a little cool to see how much this milquetoast pirate colony will actually topple in on itself. But between all of these machinations, “The OC” is losing those moments that let its characters breathe.

JTL

Be sure to read Johnny’s previous coverage of “The OC”: Subdue the Hebrew Honey, What’s Your Obsession, Escape to The OC, and Cali Is Where They Put They Mack Down.

14 thoughts on “The OC: Razzmatazz and Stud Finders”

  1. I didnt know if I was suppose to laugh cry or cheer yesterday, it was all so choppy, but there were some light bulb moments in terms of friendship…and I dont understand why a powerful man like Caleb would be compel to get the blessings of some 16 year old kid or even blackmail her for that matter, when did Marissa become The GodPrincess…that didnt make sense, and I hate the fact that just when Luke is finally becoming entertaining he is leaving, but with that said I still love the OC…heres to next week.

  2. “and I dont understand why a powerful man like Caleb would be compel to get the blessings of some 16 year old kid”

    Because, as he said, it would mean the world to Julie to have Marissa living at home. I have a feeling there’s a bit more to this though, don’t you?

    Last night was only my second time watching the show. Johnny has convinced me to tune in and zone out. That and I keep hearing that Riviera’s song “Friends in California” is perfect for this show.

  3. THEY PROMISED BLOOD…but they didnt deliver…

    Thats said, why the fuck did Wonderfalls go away? I guess its good cause the actress was too damn cute and my wife wouldve probably ended up killing me hitting me over the head with a iron skillet that some hill country folk got us for our wedding

  4. I didn’t like the way Ryan turned on Luke. Luke brought up a valid point that he had his back during the Oliver fiasco. Regardless of banging Julie Cooper or not, Ryan should have been more understanding.

  5. Fans of Fox’s primetime series The O.C. will be [url=http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/launch/20040415/en_launch/217785]among the first to hear the Beastie Boys’ new single[/url], “Ch-Check It Out.” The song will be featured prominently on the April 28 episode of the show, in which the boys of the O.C. go to Las Vegas for an impromptu bachelor party and the ladies cook up their own trouble with a bachelorette party back home.

  6. Oh!my!Beasties on OC! yummy, that is about as exciting as putting a silver bullet smack dab in the middle of my temporal lobe…I could have sworn old timers go to florida, not california…it seems the OC is slowly sliding into the PO…

  7. I still don’t get this show.

    I mean it just hasn’t appealed to me yet. I know, it’ll finally hit a nerve, on the season finale. That would figure.

    And would someone tell me please why everyone keeps calling the dark haired kid the geek? Sorry, but I think he’s much, much cuter then the brooding one.

  8. he’s the geek because he displays the most consistently geeky tendencies (death cab references, comic books, lack of ability to identify tools), charli–has nothing to do with attractiveness.

    for my part, i am still trying to figure out how marissa & ryan are Reunited, just like that. there was far too little believable googly eyed/wistful interaction between the two of them leading up to it. did i miss something? boo.

  9. Ok, I’m still not into the OC…but seriously, I know a guy who would be Seth’s twin (if Seth is the name of the dark-haired one. I think it is!) Man, the guy’s a carbon copy and it’s right freaky, but also kind of cool because the dark-haired one is the only reason I tried to watch in the first place!

  10. The wishlist in my OC Club is that Ryan and Marissa would stop being the central characters, in favor of Summer and Seth, and that there will be a spinoff for Luke living in Portland. Caleb is a borderline sociopath. Everything he does is just in the interest of having power and control over others.

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