Friday, May 20, 2005

The O.C: Final Report

Well, ya know what they say about seeing a gun in the first act...

Why does "The O.C." always end its season on a downer? This one was at least more dramatic and less lugubrious than last year's, but still...Just when you thought it was safe to go into the Cooper family, or to breathe easy for Ryan and Marissa, BANG! Literally.

Not that there was much doubt Trey was dead meat as soon as Ryan found out what he did. The twist, of course, was that it was Marissa who pulled the trigger. I think I've abandoned all hope of those two ever having a normal, well-balanced romantic relationship. It just ain't happening. Twisted romantic relationships make better TV, I guess.

As do unhappy families. What did Tolstoy say about happy vs. unhappy families? (I seem to be quoting the Russians a lot today. Well, they did know a thing or two about drama and byzantine familial relationships.) How ironic is it that season 2 should end with the Coopers as the unified, well-adjusted family, and the Cohens torn apart at the seams? Seth's preemptive comment notwithstanding, the whole rehab plotline really did feel like an after-school special. It was SO obvious that Seth would end up joining in the intervention, and that Kirsten would capitulate when he did. I think we can count on her being safely detoxed by the end of the summer, though who knows...She's looking like skin and bone these days, somehow, though she was always thin.

Speaking of unhealthy thinness - plus a lot more trashiness - the most disturbing moment by far in tonight's episode came during a commercial break. I'm referring to Paris Hilton's ad for Carl's, Jr., which, to me, truly signals the end of western civilization. I won't even try to describe it - it has to be seen to be disbelieved.

Tonight also marked the end of an era in T.V. drama, as Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle) doffed his scrubs, for good, on the season finale of "E.R." It was a quiet, almost anticlimactic exit, but I liked it that way. It seemed more realistic, somehow: the E.R. doesn't stop just because one doctor leaves. I also liked the way the writers incorporated memories and stories from Carter's earliest days in the E.R. - all the way back to 1994, when he was a total greenhorn. Hearing Anthony Edwards' voice and seeing glimpses of George Clooney et al. made me all misty-eyed with mid-late '90s "E.R." nostalgia. The show's still good, mind you. But those days - the days when "E.R." was hands-down the best show on T.V., and a kind of religion with me - are gone. Even after my devotion faded, I always said I'd watch the show until Carter left. And so, good night, "E.R." It's been a great run.

N.B: I would like to point out that Noah Wyle is NOT the last member of the original cast to leave "E.R." Sherry Stringfield hangs on as Dr. Susan Lewis. But Susan was never the same when she returned after the hiatus. The old Susan was my favorite character on the show; I never really warmed to the one who came back.


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