The O.C. created by Josh Schwartz, with Benjamin McKenzie, Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody. Airs Thursdays at 7 pm on CTV and 9 pm on Fox. Rating: NN Rating: NNNNN
There are just two episodes remaining of The O.C., which comes as a bit of a surprise. I'd forgotten that the sudsy teen soap was still on the air.
Sure, it was a phenom when it debuted in 2003, hooking teens and 20-somethings with its speedball of high school hijinks, wrong-side-of-the-tracks ethos and overt pop culture references wrapped in the SoCal sheen of over-privilege, under-responsibility and really good skin.
It made comic books, and the hoodied-and-Vans-clad geeks who read them, cool (or at least less uncool) and turned Adam Brody into the geek-chic poster boy. It gave us Chrismukkah, the dumbest holiday since Festivus. It made emo sorta okay again (even though we're all really, really sick of angsty, overwrought white-boy indie rock).
And its dialogue was steeped in irony, the kind Alanis Morissette sang about that isn't really ironic at all, just coincidental and ultimately kind of dumb.
But The O.C., once too cool for school, has become about as popular as Meat Loaf Mondays in the school cafeteria. And about as memorable as old episodes of Beverly Hills 90210, like the one in which Summer kisses an upside-down Spider-Seth in the rain (one of the gloriously geekiest moments in TV history), the one where Mischa Barton drives off a cliff in pursuit of a movie career that's still eluding her and the one where Brenda lies to her parents so she can go surfing in Mexico with Dylan.
While many predicted The O.C.'s demise right along with Barton's Marissa Cooper, ditching the drunken drama queen (Marissa, not Mischa) and adding a Mischa/Marissa clone helped to temporarily right the listing love boat, which was already off course thanks to Peter Gallagher's wookiee brows. Surprisingly, Marissa's death also allowed brooding Russell Crowe wannabe Ryan to stop punching things and lighten up.
But while the soapy storylines improved, the ratings dropped to close to half what they'd been during its white-hot season one, when the show burned through enough plot lines to power a string of daytime melodramas.
The network buried it on Thursday nights among Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty, ER and CSI, and fans began to look elsewhere, including the fluffier, sexier and emo- and comic-book-free Laguna Beach (aka The Real Orange County).
The decision was made to pull the plug (amid rumours that Brody and co-star Rachel Bilson's off-screen breakup fuelled the move), and no one involved seems bothered. Series creator Josh Schwartz already has two new shows in development, including Gossip Girl, based on the book series. Twenty-eight-year-old Ben McKenzie says he's anxious to move on from playing teen troublemaker Ryan.
Kelly Rowan will likely continue to make bad movies of the week. Likewise Peter Gallagher, while Bilson will probably join Barton as a tabloid train wreck. Brody, meanwhile, has turned out to be the show's surprising breakout star with big-screen potential (as Mr. And Mrs. Smith and Thank You For Smoking demonstrated).
All that remains is to find out what happens in post-quake Newport Beach, a classic jump-the-shark moment. Maybe the earth will open up like a giant hellhole and swallow them all up Buffy-style.
What to watch this week
Thursday, February 15
BRIT Awards 2007 (awards show) The Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Oasis, Take That, Corinne Bailey Rae, the Scissor Sisters and Snow Patrol are among the performers on the two-hour music swagfest. 8 pm on CBC
Sunday, February 18
Amazing Race: All-Stars (Reality) Charla and Mirna and a slew of returning faves take on Survivor champs Rob and Amber as the race kicks off a new season. 8 pm on CBS and CTV
February 15 to March 18
MuchMoreretro (music) Remind yourself what music channels used to look (and sound) like as MMR offers videos from the 80s and 90s - free until March 18. Also available free are Razer, PunchMuch, MuchVibe and MuchLoud.