Escape once again from actionable intelligence, pointing fingers, and political stammering with another installment of Glorious Noise’s “OC” post-game. The clunkiest melodrama is magically transformed into compelling television – it’s the world’s best fantasy league.
Whether by Tivo™ or wily marketing, Fox has figured out a way to wean us off weekly episodic television. Various hopefuls from the latest “American Idol” were chosen, dropped, and resurrected in a vicious cycle of bait and switch reality programming between the time Chino sacked Eddie with a patented double-leg takedown and last night, when the “OC” finally returned to the airwaves. Finally not because my scalp’s been sweating underneath this Adam Brody Novelty Wig for nearly a month, but because a TV show in good standing should not be dangled like limp linguini over a network scheduling grid. Still, Fox is to be applauded for cleverly getting us to accept such a tactic. I can’t even remember why Jack Bauer was in Mexico, let alone what Kim thinks of Chase’s babydaddy status, or which swarthy European of indiscriminant accent is now in control of The Virus. But that doesn’t mean I’m not waking up at night to check in on Fox‘s “24” Final Nine Episodes countdown ticker. Damn you network executives! You’ve got me all bugaboo!
This week’s “OC” returned to a favorite plot device, wherein everyone – parent and kid alike – has an unhealthy involvement in a television program (wait, that sounds familiar… never mind). In the past it’s the been the “Golden Girls” marathon; last night, it was “The Valley,” the soap opera so great it makes Summer (ah…) want to “live in the valley.” It’s one of the show’s charms, to use our collective penchant for the petty obsession as a plot point even as it becomes exactly that. Anyway, Sandy and Jimmy’s Lighthouse pipe dream has become an economic pipe bomb; the bumbling restauranters are not only forced to hire that burgeoning Martha Stewart Julie Cooper as their gratis designer, but must come groveling to white devil Caleb for an emergency cash transfusion. Later, when Cal’s meddling reaches meat loaf proportions, the close up of an exasperated Sandy just screams for a kitschy Yiddish one liner. The “OC” isn’t going to be that obvious, but it has no problem constricting its pirate colony circle even further. Check this out.
Chino and Seth stumble on Luke and Julie post coitus back at the hourly rate motel. They’re inexplicably heartbroken over the discovery. All trappings of Angst-Free Ryan Month destroyed, they dejectedly wonder what the revelation will do to the Doe Eyed Fawn’s delicate playing-card mansion of emotions. Ever the lunkhead, Chino confronts Luke without even a “Dude, Julie COOPER? DAAAMN!”, and uses all the powers of his bangs to force a promise to end it out of the suddenly weenie Luke. Meanwhile, it’s a natural Newport occurrence for Summer (…) and the Fawn to find “The Valley” shooting locations on their beach. Ingratiation ensues, and suddenly Grady the snarky soap star is inviting Summer (), et al to LA. Convincing the parents takes a few decent jokes, and a nice follow-through when Kirsten demands Grady’s autograph. She’s a “Valley” fan too, see? Seth, Summer, Chino, the Lighthouse, Luke, Julie and Jimmy Cooper, and poor poor fragile Doe Eyed Fawn – it’s a coincidentally-tangled web that will lead most of them to the side door of a dance club somewhere in Los Angeles. “The town will steal your soul!” screams Sandy from the kitchen.
At Luna Chicks/generic “dance club” soundstage, Chino and the Fawn are their usual non-factor selves as Seth desperately tries to out-Seth the rakish, ad libbing, Hollywood star version of himself, who’s currently macking Bif-like on Summer. Cue Paris Hilton, as an embedded promo for the second season of “The Simple Life,” who flirts with Seth over Thomas Pynchon as his Juicy’d brunette beauty is whisked off by the hilariously-rendered Team Grady (lots of aviators). And then – And Then! – what does Chino find on the stripper pole but a sex’d up Hailey, who was supposed to be in the Caribbean. Hmm, I thought I recognized that whiff of Axe Body Spray. And in the background, Timo Maas bumps. “What goes around / Comes around…”
So, it’s a small, melodramatic world in the “OC,” but not small enough for the caged fists of Chino, who wants to fight the bizarrely Long Island-accented bar owner as well as his thuggish muscle when they won’t honor his entirely unreasonable attempt to abduct Hailey – for better or worse, an employee of the club – from her post on the pole. Long Island stands firm. Where’s that double-leg takedown now, you wooden-faced dolt? Outside, Seth does a cheeky version of the “take your damn hands off her Bif” bit, riffing on Grady’s actor-as-rock star self-indulgence as he saves Summer from the white leather depths of the dude’s Escalade. Carrying things through even further, Seth has to sneak a quick peek at the new “Valley” episode on the LCD. Jimmy Cooper has also arrived at Luna Chicks. He’s there to rescue his wayward almost-girlfriend, who somehow went from catty “Fuck you and fuck Kirsten! I’m making money on this pole!” to a huddled, needy mess of mascara-run speechlessness inside twenty minutes. Damn, no Chino fisticuffs, though there was a stare-down of the door muscle.
Hailey’s back home with Kirsten, washing her life out with soap in the squeaky clean Cohen bathroom, and Jimmy and Sandy’s cockamamie construction of the eventual Peach Pit has been salvaged by Cal and his band of richie investors (where’s that lumber baron guy? Is he the one in the bearskin?). Cal, you old softie! Your steamy shvitzing ego withered with just one bite of Sandy’s mother’s meatloaf! But stop that withering, because Luke just broke it off with Julie outside, and she’s blowing up the white devil for a late night booty call. A relaxing moment just became the right moment, eh Caleb? Maybe, but it’s all wrong for the Doe Eyed Fawn. Goofy ol’ Luke runs all Marmaduke-like into Chino’s pool house pad, all happy to tell his new master about how he gave up blasting the cougar Julie Cooper. But who overhears? You know this, dog! “I have to go,” she croaks as usual – it’s become her line. Damn. Girl might as well go join a convent. And, if the previews of next week are any indication, she just might. Luckily we only have a week to wait this time.