Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Anger Management

“The Anger Management”

So I’m a little late this week. Don’t be mad at me. Control your anger. Manage it, even. Ha! I slay myself.

Anyway, I do apologize for the delay. Sometimes life gets in the way, but now I’m on Thanksgiving break and can devote my attention to this review and to doing stomach exercises so that I’ll be able to hold the proper amount of food come Thursday.

But that’s okay because an episode like this can actually wait. And I don’t mean that because the episode was so bad that it needed to wait. I mean that the episode was good that it has staying power and could hold over a few days until I had a few extra hours to sit in front of the computer.

That’s right. I said it was a good episode. It was actually a very good episode by normal standards and a very great episode by the standards of last week’s Marissa lovefest, which I still maintain was the biggest waste of the show since the stupid trip to San Diego last year for the comic book meeting. And yes, I’ve seen the shot of Mischa’s nipple. It didn’t change the fact that I hated the episode. I’ve seen the sunbathing pictures of her and those weren’t that great, so why should this brief exposure mean anything to me?

Alas, let’s not dwell on past mistakes, but let’s focus on what was really good this week: logical character development, excellent writing, and good chemistry between the leads. I think that chemistry is actually the most important thing at the moment since it really seemed nonexistent for a while, even between Seth and Summer because of Brody’s well-documented laziness (coupled with bad writing) in the first few episodes. Add in a few guest stars who felt clichéd and who didn’t really click with the cast, you didn’t have much sizzle coming from the formerly hot cast.

But Jeri Ryan actually settled into her role quite nicely, and Autumn Reeser has taken Taylor into the stratosphere, so you know, all is well on that front. And even though I hate Marissa, her acting has improved. Adam seems energized. Ben feels a little more awkward, something that he excelled at in the first season. Peter, Kelly, and Melinda never really lost their ability, and Rachel has only become better with time. She’s just amazing.

The show still misses Caleb, let’s not lie, but the characters are starting to mix in logically illogical situations, the storylines are progressing nicely, the character development is as good as it’s ever been, and the quips are wittier. That’s key for this show.

Sandy and Kirsten…

So I’m still a little skeptical about Sandy working for the Newport Group, and I still don’t like this guy he’s working with, but it’s very nice to see him have his own storyline where he’s a working husband. I appreciated the storylines where he helped Caleb out, but in case the writers didn’t know, business and family can be kept separate even in Orange County.

I find it interesting that the first order of business for the writers was to reveal the fact that Sandy is still incredibly moralistic. I wonder if that’s a hint of things to come. Will working for the Newport Group change Sandy from moralistic to Caleb? I doubt the change will ever be that extreme, but if we can see Sandy change, it’d actually be an extremely interesting look at Caleb even without him on the show. We could see exactly what made the man who he was.

I don’t imagine that the writers have thought that far ahead, but it’d still be a nice twist. I like the idea of character progression like that. It would also really work next season if the kids actually move out because we could see Sandy try to cope with an empty nest while making business deals – tons of reasons for him to slowly start to change. See, that’s all I ask for: just some reasons for character changes.

As far as Kirsten goes, she’s been very limited in her stories since the Charlotte one shifted over to Julie. It was sad to see her being taken advantage of by two people she trusted. That’s an unfortunate part of life, though. I do wonder if there will be any fallout from the Charlotte story. I think it’d be unfair to have Charlotte leave town without Kirsten actually knowing what happened. And, if Julie explains it, will Kirsten be able to deal with the fact that even though Julie made the right decision, she initially planned on making the wrong one? I always felt that Kirsten was the most forgiving person on the show, maybe even too forgiving. It’d be nice to see a grudge form with her.

It’s great to see this marriage back as the moral center of the show, by the way. I really missed it last year and became afraid that we’d continue to see that trend with Kirsten coming back from rehab. But these two seem better than ever.

For now.

Julie Cooper-Nichol…

There’s not much to say about her other than to commend her for a job well done. She had the opportunity – or so she thought – to make money back at the expense of her friend, and she didn’t.

At the same time, though, you have to wonder exactly how Julie plans to get the money back if she sheds her bitch image. I know that you could say hard work and such, but does Julie have any talent or skill? I’m not going to find Julie a very commendable character if she’s not going to screw Kirsten over but is willing to mess with someone else. It’s a fine line they have to walk in terms of characterization.

Again, I’m fairly disappointed that the Charlotte story seemed to become a vehicle for Julie and not Kirsten, and I’m more than fairly disappointed in the way the storyline wrapped up so quickly. It just seemed so terribly anti-climatic and that’s pretty unfair to fans. I know we didn’t exactly jump on the story like the writers hoped, but the least they could do is show us that they care enough to give us a decent resolution.

Of course, all this is assuming that the Charlotte storyline actually is over. I’d be willing to bet it is because it felt like an O.C. ending. I just wish it felt more like a definitive conclusion. I don’t imagine that anyone would be disappointed with ending Charlotte’s story for good. In season eight, when the show is on its last legs, I can’t imagine the fan base jumping up and down and begging for the return of Charlotte who reveals herself to be Oliver’s mother.

Ah well.

Ryan and Marissa…

I have to say that I’m pleased with the direction this story went this week. I was horribly concerned, obviously, about the fact that last week’s show screamed, “Love triangle disguised as a non-love triangle!” But things seemed to have toned down this week. Johnny played the third wheel and did so convincingly. He didn’t seem to have any overt feelings toward Marissa, and she didn’t seem to have any either. That’s a good thing.

Aside from the fact that both Mischa Barton and Ryan Donowho are both poor actors with no chemistry, the show needs another direction other than Oliver redux. So watching Marissa actually return back to the unselfish person she showed in the season premiere. She put Ryan’s needs in front of her own and risked herself so that he wouldn’t get in trouble. It’s a nice role reversal from the usual stuff we get from these two.

Someone said that this Ryan was too much like season two Ryan, but that’s just wrong. This Ryan is far different than season two Ryan. Season two Ryan didn’t fight because the writers had no one for him to fight. They were completely spent on ideas and just had him stop without rhyme or reason (if someone can find justification, please let me know). But this season, we’re seeing a Ryan who is forced to consider his future and is making logical decisions because of that. He knows that he won’t be any better than anyone else in his family if he doesn’t try to focus himself. And I think it’s coming through beautifully. As I noted a few weeks ago, we’re seeing Ryan’s reactions to everything and it’s fairly troubling.

Ryan’s decision to outwit Volcheck (or whatever his name is) was very interesting to watch, especially since he’d never really done that before, but it led to the scene with the punching bag, and I have to say that was one of the most intense moments on the show ever. I honestly mean that. It bordered on scary because we see that Ryan’s simply masking himself. There’s your logical for Ryan and Marissa breaking up – Ryan’s insecurities and masks causing himself emotional trauma. When this mask comes off, it’s going to be tremendously entertaining. And scary. And wild. Let’s just hope that the mask comes off sometime. Wait, what? You mean, there could be drama without adding in another new character? You mean that characters can create their own drama with their personalities? No way!

Yes way.

Seth and Summer…

Again, this is your winner for the week. I don’t know if I can praise Adam and Rachel enough for breathing such life into their characters, so I won’t. Instead, I’ll focus on Autumn Reeser who is just phenomenal as Taylor. Talk about a guest star who fits in perfectly.

I loved Anna as much as anyone, but she didn’t have the chemistry with Seth that Taylor does. Really, aside from season one Summer, there’s no one that’s able to equal this chemistry that Taylor and Seth have. I’m not saying I want to see them enter into some kind of romantic relationship because I don’t. But I love the fact that they feel very natural together, that their banter is quick, and that their connection is a sensible one. They’ve had very similar experiences in terms of people belittling them, and they’ve both tried to compensate with disastrous results. I know, I know, this is almost like the Johnny/Marissa relationship where they have something in common, but that’s never been my complaint. My complaint is the way that the writers want to shove everything down our throats with lines like, “Johnny just gets me.” I don’t think you’ll see Seth saying the same thing about Taylor.

Taylor’s a very fascinating character, I must say. She’s obviously just a little bit over the edge, but it’s not in the Oliver vain. Oliver was plain psycho. Taylor is deluded. She has no sense of reality. True, Oliver created his own world, but he never really lived in it. Taylor lives in this world she’s built for herself. I suppose that her relationship with Dean Hess was about somehow channeling her dreams to something else. I don’t know. That was a mistake all around.

So is Taylor actually an anime freak or has she done her homework on Seth’s room? If she’s just a freak then it’s a nice little moment between the two, but if she’s been stalking Seth, it’s creepy. I thought the present she gave him, no matter how many times she wrapped it, was incredibly sweet, and I actually thought about cheering, “Seth, kiss her!” But I didn’t. I can be a little hypocritical, but not that much. It was a fantastic moment, though, as was the ensuing talk outside of the party.

And it’s nice to see Summer angry without acting melodramatic. The writers have listened to our complaints about these two, and I’m glad they did. I have to say, too, that no matter how touching the scene was where Taylor handed over the DVD, it wasn’t quite as good as the final Seth and Summer scene. “So bad that it may actually kill me,” was just pure Seth. Wonderful stuff.

Ugh, I’m actually pushing for a love triangle. Someone shoot me.

Other fun stuff…

Did you guys know anyone as hot as Taylor who had actual trouble making friends?

How freaking hot were Charlotte, Kirsten, and Julie sitting around that table? My God. Insane stuff.

What do you think Sandy said when he fired those guys?

There doesn’t seem to be a Mr. Townsend, but Taylor and her mom appear to be doing okay. Maybe Julie should turn to her and get some help on how to be a single woman with a hot daughter and still have money.

I just realized how awesome a cameo on this show from Ian Ziering would be. Maybe even Jason Priestly, too.

Something tells me that a large piece of wood could actually take a shattered bottle. I’ve never been in a fight like that, so I wouldn’t actually know, but I’m just thinking about size here. That wood is huge. The bottle isn’t.

It looks like they’re going to Luke Johnny. That is, they’ll have him hurt, and he won’t die. No, that’s not a spoiler. It’s just speculation after watching this show so many times. Besides, there’s Ryan’s big Chrismukkah Bar Mitzvakah that’s coming up in a few episodes, so a death would really be a downer heading into that. Man, I can’t wait for Chrismukkah.

No Thanksgiving episode this year? Bummer. Thanksgiving was one of the best episodes in season one. Man, I may think that Taylor has better chemistry with Seth than Anna does, but damn, Anna was so great in that episode. That was such a fun storyline. And Caleb was somewhere around god level.

So overall, a really good episode. Things really seem to be clicking with the stories, the writers, and the actors. Everyone seems on the same page, for the first time in a long time, and that includes the fans. Probably the best episode of the season, too, so that’s saying something, wouldn’t you say? Things have the potential to be great. Can they keep it up? Time will tell.

Well, that’s going to do it for me. I know that the long wait for finishing this would point to having some ten page analysis, but no, you’d be wrong. It’s okay, though, because we have a week off this week, so I’ll reenergize and then be back the following week.

If you’re in the States, then I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. If you’re elsewhere, I wish you a very happy Thursday while Americans eat turkey and watch bad football. That’s the American way.


Questions, comments, death threats?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Swells

FOX (households: 3.2/5, #4; adults 18-49: 2.2, #3) then took the bronze among adults 18-49 thanks to fresh installments of "The O.C." (households: 3.7/6, #10; adults 18-49: 2.6, #8)… - thefutoncritic.com

Do you people realize how bad that is? A 3.7 is, I believe, a .7 drop from last week. I don’t pretend to know exactly how ratings work, but I know enough to know that this means that fewer people watched this week’s show than ever before, and that, my friends, is not a good thing. And this is coming off of the best episode of the season last week, the first episode back after baseball. What does this mean exactly? It means a group of people waited in anticipation for the show to return and when it did, they were disappointed.

And I have a good feeling that I see a pattern that’s going to start developing unless the writers do something quick.

Welcome back, folks, for another week of random musings about our beloved Josh Schwartz created melodrama.

I’ve seen a lot of people say this was a good episode. One called it “damn great” and another said it was the best episode of the show since the second season premiere. To those people I ask: what episode were you watching? I certainly didn’t get a great episode on my television. I got mediocrity and a lot of frustration. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

Let’s just say that if the ratings dip next week, I only have two words for why: Marissa Cooper.

In fact, let’s get into America’s favorite uninspired couple first.

Ryan and Marissa…

Let me say that there is no worse character on television than Marissa Cooper. I honest to God mean it. There have been bad characters in television – many of them popping up on teen dramas just like The O.C. – but I defy anyone to even tell me that there is a worse character on television now. Any show (except for UPN or WB sitcoms because if you’ve seen them, you’ll know they just don’t count as actual shows). I promise you’re wrong.

So let’s first remember that Marissa whined and whined last week about Ryan leaving. She didn’t want him to leave. She wanted the relationship to work out. She wasn’t in the least bit bothered by anything that’s happened with Trey. As a matter of fact, with the exception of the drama it’s caused her by having to go to PUBLIC SCHOOL~!, has she even mentioned the Trey stuff outside of the premiere.

So when does she decide to suddenly start complaining about it? 4 A.M. She calls Ryan up in the early, early morning, probably scaring him to death because the only phone calls you should receive that early are ones about death and destruction, and expects him to suddenly have a heart-to-heart with her.

Now, exactly what is there to talk about? I mean, I’ve never taken anything other than intro to psych, and I’ve never been involved in a shooting, but what exactly did she expect Ryan to tell her? That he’d “be there”? He was there. He answered the phone. All he asked for was some sleep. But she decides to a bitch about it.

And we’re supposed to feel bad for Marissa and believe that it’s okay for her to go to Johnny for an ear to talk to? I commend the guy for beating his dad with the baseball bat, but really, those two situations aren’t really that similar.

But it gets worse because as Marissa flirts endlessly and blows Ryan off, she continues to complain that he’s just not there for her. It’s hard to be there for someone when they won’t come around. And don’t get me started on the ridiculous innocent scene where they were in Chili’s bedroom. No one with a significant other that they love actually flirts like that with someone they don’t know that well. It just doesn’t happen. And, if it does, it’s ridiculous. Don’t do it.

Still, Marissa’s the victim because Ryan just doesn’t listen.

And Marissa can’t see that Johnny likes her? Hmm, this sounds familiar. Oliver, anyone?

Now, I admit that there’s something intriguing in the fact that Ryan and Johnny have seemingly forged a friendship. There’s potential in the idea. At the same time, it has the risk of just being stupid. I’m not sure how either way but trust me. It’s likely going to blow since that’s how this whole storyline is.

Poor Ryan. He just sits back, does what he can do, and gets screwed because of it. He deserves better than this. The writers should have paid more attention to Ryan readjusting to life at Harbor. That’s far more compelling than watching him run around like a lapdog for his stupid whore.


Seth and Summer…

Again, we should all get on our knees and thank God for creating Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson because they are really the main reasons this show is working at the moment. Maybe even the only reason. They just have such a wonderful chemistry, playing off of each other perfectly. While I don’t enjoy the fact that they focus a lot of their attention on talking about Ryan and Marissa, the moments where they are by themselves and just chatting are always very fun.
And I’m still enjoying Taylor. I know I waver back and forth with her, but overall, she’s pretty good. Without the dean, she’s a much better character, though I have to question introducing the mother so quickly. I know she’s mean and bitter, but it seemed like the writers really tried too hard to push this woman down our throats as a bitch. I find it a bit disconcerting, but I think the writers have to start reaching out pretty quickly, so I don’t completely blame them. But I kind of wish they would just introduce a character like Taylor who is just a bitch for no real reason. I understand that it’s one-dimensional, but I’m so sick of trying to feel sympathetic for people. Just let us hate one or two.

The idea of Seth saving Taylor was actually a pretty good one. Who understands ridicule better? The fact that he stood up and took the abuse was extremely noble. At the same time, it’s very heartbreaking. I think that with the exception of last season, we all love Seth. We all relate to him somehow, and because of that, we root for him. So when we recognize that he still remembers being abused, that people still treat him terribly (“sit down, Seth!” was a great line), it’s hard not to get worked up. Remember when Seth told Summer he remembered her feeding the squirrel who kept getting its food taken? That’s who Seth is. He’s the squirrel. So sad.

Now, is it smart to try to pair up Seth and Taylor, if that’s what they what they’re going for? Depends on how they handle it. Do we get another, “You could have had me…” speech, or do we get, “Oh, it’s on, Cohen!” because the former sucks, but the latter would be fantastic. These guys have to remain the comic relief. Romantic moments work for them, comedy moments work for them, but dramatic fights don’t – at all. The writers have something good going, so I hope they don’t mess it up. I’m more interested in seeing Taylor with Ryan, actually, if only to piss Marissa off.

I think the most important thing is that this doesn’t build off of one instance. I don’t want to see Summer see Seth talking to Taylor and suddenly go bitchy. Of course, this being The O.C., that’s probably what’s going to happen. This show irritates me so much sometimes.

Sandy and Kirsten…

So, what is there really to say? Nothing. It’ll be very nice to see Sandy in a corporate world, even though he’s not a lawyer. Sure, the fans have only been clamoring to see Sandy take on actual case since season one, but working for the new Newport Group is okay, too. I’m sure he’s in over his head, though, and somehow, he’ll be screwed. My guess? The older guy was the good guy, and this young guy Sanford is working with is really the problem. After all, nothing is as it seems in Orange County.

The Charlotte stuff seems to have shifted over to Julie, so Kirsten is actually doing nothing. I’m not even sure I can examine her character because it’s thinner than Kelly Rowan at the moment (za-zing! Thank you, I’m here all week, try the veal!)

Julie Cooper-Nichol…

I was hoping it’d be Julie that uncovered the plan first. There’s far more intrigue in Julie dealing with Charlotte than Kirsten doing it. Kirsten is a very fragile person, and I just couldn’t imagine that watching her fight with Charlotte would be even remotely interesting.

I’m not saying that I want her completely gone from the picture because I do want her to grow some kind of spine and enter this fight. But for me, watching Julie handle the situation will be great.

I was thinking that maybe watching her revert back to her old ways would be an interesting storyline, but now I’m not so sure. I mean, I like the idea that Charlotte is able to play to her insecurities because there are so many – I never realized just how vulnerable Julie was until Charlotte started talking to her last night. It’s actually a terrific bit of psychology on Charlotte’s part.

Still, I think that it’d be great to see Julie fight Charlotte off to defend Kirsten and then use that fame to catapult herself to stardom. She can get news coverage for saving the life and money of Caleb Nichol’s daughter, she can get coverage for turning in a criminal, and she can begin to earn the respect of Kirsten, something that I think she’s always wanted. The important thing here, for me, is that Julie always makes sure that things come back to her. I like the fact that she’s self-centered and that her problems generally revolve around herself. It’s not that I’ve disliked the writers delving into this side of her character, but still, it’s more fun when she’s playing the bitch that divorced Jimmy based on reputation.

It’s very Julie-like to discover the ploy while rummaging through Charlotte’s purse, by the way. It’s such a breach of moral conduct that it fits Julie to a tee. I loved it.

Did I mention how hot Julie was last night? Good God, I thought Lindsay owned the record for hottest scene ever – in her glasses and Freud slippers – but Julie took it over last night. Insane.

Other Stuff…

When did Ryan and Summer develop enough of a bond for her to call him “Atwood” or for Marissa to believe Ryan came to offer Summer a ride? I have to say, though, that I’d really love to see a Ryan and Summer pairing, as I believe their different personalities would somehow mesh very well. And I think they look cute together. I don’t know, it’s wishful thinking, but there’s a lot of storyline potential there. I’ll never advocate Seth and Summer breaking up, but if they have to, it better be for Ryan. (Yeah, here comes the hate mail.)

Did I mention that Marissa sucks? Honestly, who decides these stories for her? Certainly it’s not Josh, my hero. It has to be some Nazi feminist who believes that all men are evil and thus Marissa should be worshipped for being a stupid ass. Marissa is in line to be the next Debra Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond, there’s no question.

“I’m already dating a dork,” was a fantastic line. I still can’t wait for Chili and Seth to meet. That could be really great. Eh, it probably won’t happen. Can’t mix the public school kids with the private school kids too much.

Who else misses Caleb a lot?

Who else misses Jimmy a lot?

How weird was it to see a pay phone?

What kind of administration approves a lock-in as a mandated event? That’s too much of a stretch.

So Taylor’s not popular? I thought she was. Didn’t everyone else? You know, shrill, whiney, overbearing girls are always popular in high school as long they’re hot. I don’t believe that Taylor wouldn’t be.

How about Reunion last night being completely AWESOME again? It’s a damn shame the ratings are so low because with the Arrested Development cancellation, I’m starting to believe FOX will get rid of anything. Damn, Reunion has honestly shocked the hell out of me more in two weeks than any other show in a long time.

So yeah, that’s pretty much it this week. I’m sorry if this came off as more of a rant than an actual review, but that’s pretty much what it was. I’m so horribly frustrated with this show after last night. Last week was such an improvement with strong writing, strong characters (even with the ridiculous fisherman premise, it was fun), and a strong direction, but this week completely crapped on all that and it’s thanks to Marissa Cooper. Honestly, it’s just plain bad that they’re allowing her ridiculous nature to overshadow what could be some of the best episodes of the series.

Someone had the nerve to say that Ryan and Marissa are the best couple on the show because they are fixing their mistakes. Must have been a spoiler because everything seems the same to me at this point. And it’s a shame. I want to love what’s going on and I almost do, but this Marissa stuff has to stop. We can only hope that the funeral that Josh said might happen is Marissa’s. It’s the only way to save this show. Because her idiocy is too much to handle.

“[Johnny] just gets me.”

Yeah, I get you too: you’re ruining the show.

Josh, listen to me, if this storyline hasn’t finished filming, then you have to stop it now. Make it a Dallas dream or a St. Elsewhere snow globe vision. I don’t care. Just end it. You’re ruining your baby.

Alas, that does it for me this week. Hopefully there aren’t too many Marissa apologists out there waiting to attack me, but if that’s the case, so be it. There’s nothing I can do to change it. I’m just telling you what I see: a show on the cusp of greatness that’s failing because the writers are determined to let the walking board Mischa Barton take center stage.

Questions, comments, suggestions, anything?


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Perfect Storm

I will break my vow of silence to let you know that it is "The O.C." (Thursday, FOX, 8 p.m.) I'm giving the silent treatment to. I have nothing new to say about the cliched characters (the evil dean, Summer's bratty rival, Kirsten's crazy friend)… - TV Gal, zap2it.com

A friend of mine looked at me in class Thursday morning and said, “The O.C. comes back tonight!” I looked back and said, “I know, I’m really excited. And I’m dreading it.”

And that’s the truth. I was dreading this episode far more than I was looking forward to it because let’s face it – the show hasn’t been that great so far. I know that when we last saw the show, everyone was drooling over it, and I was pretty pleased as well, but in all honesty, it wasn’t a great episode. And “Forever Young” really wasn’t that great of a song.

I appreciate the optimism of some members of the fan base, but we can’t just settle for anything. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s what we were doing.

So as I watched the return of One Tree Hill and saw that it was a show that has only improved with age, that gets better nearly every week, and whose characters I’m actually fascinated by in terms of depth and as I watched reruns of the waning seasons of 90210 and saw that even in its latter seasons it maintained a pretty wicked sense of drama and that its storylines, no matter how cheesy, were almost always somewhat entertaining, I began to wonder if Josh Schwartz’s baby was really the show for me.

And you know what? It still is.

Welcome back folks to another insightful week of, um, insight as we pick apart this show, see what’s working, what isn’t, what could be, and what should be.

I’ve missed you guys dearly, but the break was much needed, that’s for sure. It was nice to have weekends without the stress of the review – not that I don’t enjoy writing, but if I’m going to write, I want to put out the best review possible – and just concentrate on doing homework, watching football, and sleeping.

So I don’t think any of you would doubt after reading the introduction that I was pleased with last night’s episode. Okay, so it wasn’t a great episode, but it was really good, a step in the right direction.

Sandy and Kirsten…

I forgive Sandy for the Rebecca debacle after watching him last night. Sandy spent a large portion of last season as an overbearing father and a non-caring husband, and the show, not coincidentally, suffered during that time. But he’s back. And last night, he was simply amazing. I think first of all I need to address one of my favorite moments of the series so far and, if you’ve been following my reviews, you’ll know what it is:

“Unless you have a court-ordered injunction against my son…”

You don’t even have to finish the sentence. This emphasis on the Sandy/Ryan father/son relationship this season is a real bright spot, and the way that Sandy stuck his neck out for Ryan was great. Of course, Ryan didn’t listen, but it really doesn’t matter to me.

And I appreciate Sandy’s effort to try to get Ryan to stay. Part of me believes that Sandy would have let Ryan go anyway, even if he were going to drop out of school because Sandy understands it. I know he would never want Ryan to throw away his future, but I do think he’s raising his kids to be free thinkers and risk takers. And I think that’s why Sandy finally buckled at the end and didn’t try to stop him. You have to allow people to make mistakes before they make the right choices.

Sandy’s very random tofu comments at the dinner table were a definite highlight of the show. To-bagel with cream to-cheese truly was “a valiant effort.”

And the way he handled the Dean. Just great. I harp a lot on the Ryan/Sandy relationship and I don’t want to overlook the Seth/Sandy connection, one of the best chemistries on television. I feel like they actually give the impression that they are a father and son with enough sarcasm and similarity to handle the tension that comes from being a parent and child. So watching Sandy step up and handle the situation with the dean and to do so in a way that was so subtle and smart, that’s excellent parenting. And I think it’s a nice touch that Sandy didn’t reveal it was all a scheme. He just let Hess continue to think what he wants. Wonderful.

As for the marriage itself, it’s great to see the two back together, working together, bickering and bantering together, and just loving each other. They really work best when they’re a tag team and despite being the most ridiculously good looking parents, they carry such a sense of responsibility and love with them. Watching them work together to try to sort things out with Ryan was wonderful and I’m glad that there aren’t any Rebecca wrenches looming in the darkness. We’ve had enough of those twists, that’s for sure.

Julie Cooper-Nichol…

C’mon, she deserves to have her last names in there. It’s who she is.

The close shot of Julie’s face while she sunbathed led to what I expected it to, but it was still a hilarious, yet sad, twist. Watching cops haul someone off as Julie sat there trying to maintain some dignity was extremely cruel as you see that Julie just doesn’t want to let go of what she had, but she really has no choice. She’s thrust into a different world, and she’s handling it like only Julie Cooper-Nichol can and would.

As for throwing her in the Charlotte mix, I’m a little torn because it can go one of two ways, though I’m not sure what way I want it to go.

I think it’d be very awesome to see Julie return back to her bitchiest and completely immerse herself in Charlotte’s scheme. Lord knows that I’ve been praying for a consistent villain on the show since Caleb died, someone in the mold of Valerie Malone or Dan Scott. I think it’s what the show needs – someone who will turn with the snap of a finger. So watching Julie do whatever it takes to regain her power, in the disguise of doing whatever it takes for her family, would instantly add drama to the family especially since she’d be burning Kirsten in the process.

But there’s also the possibility that she’ll call Charlotte on her bluff and we’ll be able to see Julie using her powers for good. She’s definitely too smart to fall for Charlotte’s crap. This game that Charlotte is playing is something that Julie knows, and she’ll be able to recognize it, I believe. And when she lets Kirsten know what’s going on, we’ll see Julie show how she can remain powerful and good.

It’s interesting because they both provide Julie a chance to shine and they both provide excellent character possibilities, but we have to see what benefits the show more. Is it better to have Julie return to how she was, or is it better to have Julie move forward? I don’t know. We’ll see what the show has in store. Whatever that is, it better be something good. Melinda Clarke is gold, and she deserves the best.

Ryan and Marissa…

Is it any secret that I really don’t care much for these two together? Is it also a secret that I, against my will, have started to warm up to them? No, on both accounts.

That’s not to say that they’re great now, but this week’s fight really felt real. It didn’t feel like two people fighting about a relationship, but it felt like two people fighting about their relationship, and that’s such a welcome change of pace. There was a sense that these two care about each other, and that they just aren’t thrown together because there’s no one else around. The fight wasn’t about outside forces like DJ or Theresa, but it was about how these two relate to each other.

Sure, the idea that Ryan wanted to leave was ridiculously stupid, but at least a legitimate fight came from it. The nice twist with Marissa running to Ryan only to not apologize was pretty fun, as well. Again, not everything ends up happy.

Until next week, when it appears Marissa suddenly falls for Johnny. The previews have Marissa saying that Johnny just “gets her.” What the hell is there to get about Marissa Cooper? She’s the most wooden, least complex character in the history of television. We’re talking up there with Lisa Turtle.

Looking at the dean storyline, I have to applaud the writing of this story. I didn’t care much for Hess overall – I didn’t mind him at first, but time is good for perspective – but the writers handled everything very delicately.

See, this show is known for a short, choppy storytelling structure. Things happen, then more things happen, then some more things happen, and even though things connect, it’s not as if there’s any real emotional fallout or anything. They connect in story but not in anything greater.

But this one did.

We saw how Ryan felt about the suspension. It brought out his biggest insecurities, it drudged up his past, and elicited the feelings that he’d worked so hard to forget. As he said, it made him realize he’s not an Atwood, but he’s not a Cohen, either. He’s changed, but he’s still hanging on to that past, and despite his outward change, he still feels conflicted inside. I don’t see how Ryan would react so snappily to Sandy normally, but when he did, it felt normal because we could clearly see his emotional problems, where’d they’d come from, and why they were there.

Bravo to the writers for this one.

Seth and Summer…

Rachel Bilson is carrying the show at the moment. Peter Gallagher is a close second, but Bilson is the one on top; there is no doubt about that. She’s handling this role with such a wonderful middle school maturity that’s extremely reflective of actual high school experience. Okay, so there really aren’t people to the extreme of Taylor in regular high schools, but the drama that she brings isn’t too far exaggerated.

Her character’s wants and desires – to have power and to make others go through hell to get it – seem pretty reasonable, and most of the people who try to achieve success through these means end up acting like they’re only eighth graders. Hell, most kids in high school are horribly immature. So it’s nice to see someone act with the maturity of an actual high school kid instead of, I don’t know, going to join a commercial fishing boat.

I started to worry when Seth wouldn’t believe Summer’s claims because I remember the last time that Seth wouldn’t believe one of his friends – remember something called the Oliver storyline of ’04? Yeah, it could have gotten really ugly really quickly. But then things got a little better when Seth, rather suddenly actually, joined up forces and agreed to fight the evils of Taylor and Hess. I would have liked to have seen them dress up in superhero costumes, actually, but I guess that’s just wishful thinking.

And it was nice to see them actually win this battle, even though I believe the war is far from over. Hess is gone, but I think Taylor’s just as strong as ever. But watching her stand on her own and try to go one-on-one with Summer is likely to be a lot of fun. And if not, at least they’re both hot.

And, as I said, Adam seemed to finally want to be there. Maybe it was just that the material was better or maybe he was on the good weed, I don’t know, but whatever it was, he had far more life. His list of things that Ryan could be doing was great, as was his list of things that Ryan could do with his life.

Okay, so looking at this, the Taylor/Summer/Seth stuff is a little thin, but I’m enjoying it, so who cares? I’ll stick with thin if it means it’s enjoyable. And it’s got potential to be scathingly good fun. Just as long as Taylor doesn’t steal Seth. Ugh.

Odds and Ends…

Summer’s parrot impression was so great that I want to mail a parrot to Rachel Bilson just to thank her. But I have a feeling that’s either animal cruelty or stalking, so I better refrain.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Johnny was just trying to help Ryan and not push Ryan and Marissa apart?

Since when do schools allow strangers to have lunch?

Since when does going to public school equal not being able to get into college? I went to public school and I’m getting raped by a good college both academically and financially at this point.

How many clothes did Ryan bring on the boat?

Who else noticed that Ryan’s hair was wet out of the shower and that it was completely dry when he sat down on his bed?

Can you believe that the show actually referenced past events? Seth and Summer brought up both Theresa and the Luke/Julie storyline. How amazing! Could this be to foreshadow the return of our favorite 36 year old Chino girl and our favorite muscle-bound water polo player? All we needed was a mention of Anna to bring everything together. I guess you can’t have it all.

I can’t say that I’m upset about the World Series being over. It was nice to have FOX return with all of their shows.

Speaking of FOX shows, who else thought Reunion basically ruled the entire world last night? It was a very slow start, but the end was some of the best cliffhanging television I’ve seen in a long time. Excellent, excellent, excellent. People, if you haven’t watched this show, then do it! Get online, read some recaps, and catch up. It’s well worth it.

FOX sucks, though, don’t get me wrong. Again, they completely ruined a compelling moment by showing us Ryan’s “future” speech. Ah well. That’s life, I suppose.

So folks, thanks for reading. It’s good to be back. You can, as always, find me at Editorial Newport and OC Trailers and I hope that you’ll check both sites out as they continue to offer great content.

You can reach me at dukedevils9192@gmail.com with all your questions, comments, complaints, well wishes, generally merriment, but NO SPOILERS.

See you guys in seven.