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?


At 6:43 PM, Blogger Rodrigo said...

great review to a great episode. This season is getting better with each episode. I hope we get a great new love/sex scene between Seth & Summer before Chrismukkah.

I want Taylor this full season and season 4 and forever on the show... dont send her away!!! Anyways, i guess Josh is running out of cities to send away guest caracthers.. Just keep her away from the SethSummer amazing love.


Post a Comment

<< Home