i mean, like, “ew!”


Yes, sooner or later, it had to come to this: I’m here today to talk about The O.C. – yep, that “The O.C.”

Tessa and I are in the midst of pitching an excellent project to the Powers That Be, and as is with all such endeavors, we’re catching up on the big shows of the moment. Like all frickin’ snobs, I assumed that “The O.C.” was a pile of shit; the promo billboard that hangs over the Bowery gives off what the NYTimes calls the “soggy earnestness” of teen dramas, and I never watched a frame.

I’m here to tell you that I lie prostrate corrected. I would say the first fifteen episodes of the first season rank up there among the best serialized narrative in all television. A lot of it is Peter Gallagher, who is so infinitely cool that you wonder if he doesn’t ad lib most of his lines. He has a little moment in “The Hudsucker Proxy” that Sean and I still laugh about, and his turn in “Sex, Lies and Videotape” is villainy at its most redemptive.

Of course, there’s also Adam Brody as his son Seth Cohen, who is dead-on perfect as today’s hipster nerd and still manages to be utterly approachable. His asides and one-offs are killers 90% of the time. Everyone else is pretty damned good, too – Mischa Barton is fun to look at, and Samaire Armstrong (Anna, Seth’s other girlfriend from Season 1) is the girl I so DESPERATELY wanted to know in 11th grade (see yesterday’s post).

I say that I think the first 15 episodes are brilliant, because I just finished the 16th. “Jumping the shark” has jumped the shark as a phrase, but I sensed a moment in the 16th episode when something heretofore absent began to happen: I knew what was coming next each time.

They had been so brilliant, even working within the framework of “troubled kid enters rich enclave” fish-out-of-water cliché, but I never knew what line was coming next. In Episode 16, if you remember, new villain rich-kid psycho Oliver began his freakish manipulation of Marissa, and Summer sought to insert herself between Seth and Anna. Even the appearance of Kirsten’s black sheep sister Hailey was 2-for-1 at the Predict-o-Rama.

Yes, I haven’t seen the rest of the season, nor cracked Season 2 (out on DVD in a week). And keeping good plots going is freakishly hard; Tessa and I rented the pilot for “Dallas” on another recon mission, and it’s stunning how slow it moves. Shit, it takes Victoria Principal three TV minutes to park her car.

I haven’t given up hope on this series, and even if they’d quit after 15 shows, I’ll consider it the best TV I’ve seen this year or last. But perhaps asking for 27 pieces of magic a season is too high a bar for anyone. There was never a TV show with a flawless year, and it was exhilarating to see someone come so close.

17 thoughts on “i mean, like, “ew!”

  1. blcok

    BE Irreverent, and Be indefinable. Their limitations are where you lift off…
    Rock on, my brotha! and take every chance you can.

  2. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Is the O.C. really that good, or are you trying to convince yourself that it is good? I have never watched it, which is odd, because I am all over crap like ‘The Real World’ and ‘Road Rules’ and even MTV’s ‘Laguna Beach: the Real OC’. I suppose I did not watch because all the kids looked too perfect (where are the awkward geeks with braces and thick glasses?) and were too articulate. I did not know anyone like that in high school! However, if you say it is good, I will drink the Kool Aid and watch it. I will rent the DVD and catch up on the missed seasons! Good Good Luck to you and Tessa! You guys rock!
    Oh, and if you ever meet Mischa Barton, tell her that I loved her in “Lawn Dogs” with my crush Sam Rockwell. She was wonderful, ALMOST as good as your pal Quinn Cummings in “The Goodbye Girl” (although to be honest, no one is as good as Quinn was in “The Goodbye Girl.”)
    Good luck!

  3. lee

    Was I not telling you up in Brooklyn how SWEET the OC is?? There’re only a couple of episodes that suck but Season 2 is still pretty good. And who doesn’t LOVE Julie Cooper??

  4. caveman

    the episode with Summer in the Wonder Woman outfit belongs in the air tight safe with the original Lassies.

  5. Kevin

    LOVE LOVE LOVE TEH OC!!! Summer got me hooked, but Seth’s and Sandy’s one-liners and reparte kept me coming back for more.

  6. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    How did I miss the boat on this show?! Sometime you just gotta believe the hype. Can I Netflix the first season? I am going to check on this right now. . . .

  7. CL

    One of the pleasures of the modern age is knowing you missed a lot of tv during the year and that when you feel like it, you can rent and buy it all and catch up while eating peanut M&M’s and lying prostate (there’s that word again) next to a fan. I’m in the midst of Sopranos, West Wing, the Office and will get Lost in Dec.
    I can’t wait to see your TV show!! I don’t know when it will happen, but it will happen.

  8. Greg from Winston Dorm

    The first two soundtracks of that show were part of the soundtrack of my life last year. The third one was a little lacking, but overall, the first two are first rate. Go to iTunes today and get them. They are on par with the songs from Garden State’s soundtrack.
    I never got into Melrose or 90120, so I don’t know if the O.C. tread over ground covered 10-15 years ago.
    However, having attend my former roomie’s wedding in LA, I was happy to see that many of the scenes and wedding scenes were filmed in places where I had been–like that glass church.
    Enjoy the Seth.

  9. Sean Williams

    The only reason I didn’t watch it was because OC (I never heard anybody call it “the” OC) is the worst part of America to live in, the absolute dregs of conservativism and meth-fueled ennui surrounded by sun-scorched hills that look like fat dead brown dogs. It would be as if they made a TV show that had a hundred hotties and called it “Ronkonkomo Rocks!”, except Long Island is actually nicer than Orange County.

  10. caveman

    Orange County itself is the best. All the perfect homes with excruciatingly similar yet different floorplans are built with Restoration Hardware(TM) tools and everyone drives Range Rovers (TM) to the Banana Republic(TM) sale. It makes me want to wrap my Polo Ralph Lauren (TM) rugby shirt around my Gap(TM) khakis and run through the hills in my New Balance(TM) 990’s or whatever.

  11. Chambers

    So, as much as The OC is my first baby, I’m starting to get over it. The reason? Brody is becoming a cartoon of his own character. It was endearing and charming at first, but now I feel like it’s been overdone. How many terrible decisions can he make to upset Summer? How much begging and stuttering and how many “crazy” plans to apologize/get her back need each episode entail? His one note has been played out.

  12. eric g.

    Ian, I must agree with you about “The O.C.” I have watched since the first episode, and I, like you, was originally attracted by Peter Gallagher but stayed for Adam Brody’s rapid-fire wit. I think you’ll be disappointed with Season 2. It doesn’t stand up to Season 1, and is FAR more predictable. It’s no “Veronica Mars.” But it’s still better than most of what passes for network TV these days. I have recently begun watching “Gilmore Girls” from the first episode on, and I must say, if you like Seth Cohen, you’ll love these people. Some of the references are really obscure, my most favorite being a recent dig at the historical propensity for Jaguar electrical systems to fail. The grandfather character, played by the excellent Edward Herrman, assures us that “that was solved years ago.” I’m glad you’ve enjoyed “The O.C.” I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on Season 2, and it goes without saying that I wish you & Tessa the best of luck with your project.

  13. tregen

    We don’t have a tv and 99% of the “real” OC sucks mighty bad but Laguna Beach….. Southern California heaven. Come on down.

  14. cl

    It initially upset me that Peter Gallagher, who I always figured was a few years older than I, was playing a dad of a teenager.

  15. kjf

    i had the misfortune of watching the oc once because a friend of my son’s had his album featured on the show. i’m sure my tivo went nuts wondering why that show was on the hard drive!!
    good luck with your pitch – i’m guessing it’s original and smart – so that could be a bad sign based on all the crap that’s on the big and little screens these days!!!

  16. Rebecca

    I watched some of the first season because I have lived in “The OC” for almost 3 years now and wanted to see how it was portrayed. Sean is correct, nobody calls it “The OC”, but I am married to a long islander and aside from the conservatism and total lack of culture here, I’d rather live here. It’s the weather baby! Okay, there is some culture, but you have to really look.
    Laguna Beach is absolutely the nicest place here, but when a 1000 square foot cottage is $1 million, who can afford it?
    I’m sure there are plenty of people in Newport Beach who have lives similar to the characters on the show, but most people here are just normal, educated, upper-middle class folks who stay because of the eternal sunshine. At least that’s why we’re staying for a while. Having lived in Chicago with a child, and then living here with 3 kids, this is much easier. No coats, hats, gloves, and barely any rain. (Except for this year!)


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