Saturday, January 22, 2005

The O.C. Report

Missed the first half of last week's episode, so opted not to do a report. I must, however, note with appreciation Sandy's serenading Kirsten to make up for forgetting their wedding anniversary. Oh, how I love that man...

An above-average episode this week, even though nothing much actually happens. Well, unless you count the revelation that Alex is bisexual, but that we already gathered from the previews, so...yawn.

Much more interesting: the fact that Ryan may possibly have talked more than Seth in this episode—and even more incredible, what he had to say reduced Seth to virtual silence. Have the stars stood still in their courses?

And what he had to say! Harsh ain’t no word for it. I personally think he was being unfair to Marissa. I mean, what kind of idiot guy leaves his drunk girlfriend alone on the beach when she’s been gabbling about going swimming? Besides, as Seth delicately points out, her drunkenness was more than partly Ryan’s own fault. He was the one who was pushing Lindsay to be friends with Marissa when they’re both clearly not ready for that yet, if ever. The awkwardness between the two girls was so well conveyed, I hardly blamed Marissa for busting out the flask. (Though the flourish with which she offered it was priceless, as was Lindsay’s effort at a tactful response.) And kudos to Alex for standing up for her when Ryan delivered his final, lowest blow.

I thought Mischa Barton was exceptionally good in this episode. Her acting’s still uneven, but definitely improving. She’s got a most unusual voice—much deeper and throatier than you’d expect from someone her age—and she’s still learning how to use it. Same goes for her beauty, both body and face. Marissa's flip-outs may be entertaining, but it was her mute reaction to Ryan’s invective that really anchored the moment. Her expression said it all. And I liked her restraint when Ryan came to apologize and she told him she genuinely liked Lindsay, but that she still cared about him. It was all the more convincing for being underplayed: my heart ached for her. Then again, I’ve always had a soft spot for Marissa. It’ll be mildly, though not very, interesting to see where this impending hookup with Alex goes. I liked that the episode didn’t end with them kissing or even touching, but just with an exchange of glances: Marissa’s furtive, half-appraising, Alex’s more opaque, reserving judgment. Again, understatement works—even on “The O.C.”

On a lighter note: How adorable is Zach? And how cute are he and Summer? That last shot of them sharing a milkshake was so corny, but...aww...

One thing this episode, as many others, and many other “teen” shows, made me wonder: Do these characters have no other friends? Or is it just that we only see Marissa and Summer hanging out, and Ryan, Seth, and occasionally Zach hanging out? I mean, isn’t Marissa supposed to be social chair (or something) of her high school?

But, as I've noted before, realism isn’t exactly the name of the game here. Or rather—I think for a show like this to work, it can take a lot of liberties with plot-realism, but it has to achieve a certain measure of *emotional* realism. “The O.C.” is pretty good in this respect. (“One Tree Hill” on the WB, incidentally, is better—or was, first season.) Believing in the characters makes it much easier to believe the totally improbable things that happen to them.

Lines of the week:
“Honey, I don’t want to alarm you, but there is a giant Julie Cooper on our table.” -Sandy
“Tonight, Newport is our bitch!” -Seth


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