Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Sister Act

So yeah, it’s Tuesday afternoon, around 3:20, and I’m just now sitting down to write this review. I’ve had a lot going on trying to finish my course work for January term (I wrote a paper and presented a project on South Park’s “The Passion of the Jew” so it wasn’t too bad), but truthfully, I’ve really just been disinterested. I’ve been dreading writing this review because I knew that meant that I’d have to actually go back and think about it. And as much as I enjoy watching The O.C., I don’t enjoy rehashing it anymore because frankly, it’s bad right now.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked this past episode overall, but there’s just something inherently bad right now, and it’s going to remain that way until Johnny is gone and the show stops focusing so much on Marissa or one of the many guest stars that come and go. Ryan, Seth, Summer, Kirsten, and Sandy are tertiary characters now. They aren’t main characters, and anyone who thinks otherwise is just kidding themselves. They are playing second-fiddle to Marissa and the characters that infiltrate her lives. I’m going to excuse Julie here because she’s had a fairly large storyline lately, one that has developed her, and although she’s involved with Marissa and what could turn into a huge Kaitlin mess, she’s handled the role very well.

I started reading through my old reviews, the ones from last season namely, to see how I’d changed my writing style, to see what had worked, what hadn’t, etc. What I noticed was that in the primitive days of these rants/reviews/editorials, I looked at the characters as people, for the most part. Occasionally, I stepped out and commented on the actors, and I almost always mentioned the writers, but I felt that these characters were actual people, and I could actually get in their minds. Whether the storylines last season were any good – and I’m just speaking of the final episodes of the season because I didn’t write until “The Rainy Day Women” – was up for much debate, but I think that many were emotionally gripping and handled very well. Kirsten/Carter, for example, was a completely logical step from an otherwise atrocious Sandy/Rebecca fling, and the alcoholism that resulted was understandable after the year she’d had. But now, the show isn’t about the characters’ and their flaws, but it’s about the writers and their flaws. Clearly, character flaws are interesting; writer flaws are not. When a character has an imperfection, we want to learn more about them, we want to see how they overcome it or succumb to it. When a writer has an imperfection, the characters become incredibly imperfect, and there’s a tremendous difference between having imperfections and being incredibly imperfect. Ryan, a generally good guy, has genuinely troubling rage issues that he can’t overcome. That’s an imperfection. Marissa makes the same mistakes over and over, doesn’t care who she hurts, and completely isolates herself for the sake of vanity. You may be thinking, “Oh, but Drew, we’re all imperfect,” and you’re right. We are. But we strive to fix those things, and that, for me, is a perfect desire. Marissa doesn’t attempt to change, or better yet, the writers don’t attempt to change her. They rehash the same gimmick every year and hope that we won’t notice despite the fact the show prided itself on attracting smarter fans with smarter writing. It’s not a complete 180 yet, but it’s around 110.

I say all this not to say that I’m retiring from writing about this show because I’m not. The reviews will continue to come though they may not appear passionate as they once did, and they may not be as long as they once were because there just isn’t as much to write about. Now, this could all change soon. There was a point last year where we all felt the same way, though then it was more of a frustration than a sense of disgust (and at least each character was focused on while the side characters were mostly on the side; you could argue that Lindsay went against that grain, but I wouldn’t because I think it’s very weak), and that changed. Maybe this will too. We can only hope so.

So, as I stated, I thought this was a good episode. It, of course, was drug down by the ridiculousness that is Johnny Harper, but what can we do?

Let’s start with the obvious most important thing in this episode: the reintroduction of Kaitlin Cooper. Willa Holland, despite a strange speech problem that comes from trying to cover her almost native accent (she wasn’t born in London, nor has she lived there all her life, but she did live there as a child, and to be fair, she’s no worse than Mischa), was fairly convincing in the role. She’s gorgeous jailbait, and I’d be shocked if she doesn’t get stalked by at least twenty old men now that she’s in the public eye. Regardless, though, I don’t particularly like how this storyline played out for several reasons and not just because it ended with her and Johnny on the beach. But first, if she knew that her mom was broke, then why did she assume that she’d find her at Caleb’s place? This, of course, could be a swerve, whereas she stole the money for herself, discovered that her mom was broke, and then made up the lie. If that’s the case, and it’s the writers’ idea for a swerve, then I’m not sure I like that. See, if she’s lying, then they resolved this story too quickly. And I honestly believe that this episode’s storyline is resolved because I don’t have much faith in the writers anymore to have this become an episodic arc. I think the money was stolen, and that’s that. They should return to the idea of Kaitlin having a stalker, but I’m just not sure. I hope I can eat my words, though, because I think there is definite potential there. It would give us a reason to care about Kaitlin, and it would be a great insight into what she’s gone through in boarding school. If it turns out that she’s telling the truth, then this whole bad girl angle is killed already. It’s fine if several episodes down the road, we see Kaitlin unfold and show a glimpse of her humanity, but if they really want to take this bad girl angle anywhere, there was no need for her to show any glimpse of remorse. Apparently, the casting call requested that she be more of a Lolita character, just a sexy fourteen year old, but if that’s the case, then the writers shouldn’t have allowed Fox to act is if she’s the next Valerie Malone. There’s an easy way to promote sex, and anyone with any sensibilities on the production team could have made that call to Fox.

As for Johnny and Marissa, I don’t remember much of what they did, other than completely spitting on the great storyline they had last week where Johnny freaking leaves the show. You know, the writers send someone beloved like Anna off, and we don’t hear from her again (not yet at least), but they send someone like Johnny off, have it look definitive, and then bring him right back despite the fact the story is completely limping to its death. Actually, it’s more like limping after death, and not in the way that Jesus rose from the grave and walked around, but in the way that zombies in bad b-movies do. We’re all going to die if we can’t avoid it. Putting Johnny and Kaitlin together builds absolutely no tensions since no one actually cares about Johnny and Marissa together, and thus, no one cares if this causes problems between Kaitlin and Marissa especially since Kaitlin has to go back to school soon anyway (probably, assuming she wasn’t thrown out of school; it’s a nice idea to have Kaitlin a thief just like her father, but having her thrown out of school to create some bond between her and Marissa would be absolutely stupid). There was a moment, at the beginning of this storyline, where it was completely possible for us to care about Marissa and Johnny – it was definitely a bad plot device from the beginning, but it really took off down the drain when they tried to run the “Johnny gets me” angle instead of just having it seem that Marissa’s inner turmoil over shooting her boyfriend’s brother was getting to her, and she needed a change – but that moment, so very brief, is gone. I’m sure that we’ll get plenty of wonderful Johnny/Kaitlin/Marissa angsty moments tomorrow night (yes, it is now Wednesday), so everyone who’s excited please jump up and down.

Of course, as those moments unfold, I’m sure we’ll see Ryan sit around like a douche and do nothing because that’s what he does now. He does nothing. Sure, he fought Kaitlin’s battle for her, but that was because he had nothing better to do. Do he and Marissa have sex anymore? Plus, Ryan’s got this bizarre superhero complex that they’ve injected into his character rather than furthering his development from the great “The Anger Management” earlier this season. I’ve been learning a lot about Christ figures in film lately, and I’m starting to think that Ryan is one. In film, most Christ figures are somewhat awkward and don’t handle social situations well. Despite the fact that he was very outgoing last year, he’s regressed to this point again. Further, whenever someone is down, Ryan zooms in to redeem them, act mature, and then go back to brooding. Perhaps the writers have intentionally done this. They’re trying to make a religious statement. Wow, I suppose there is method in madness. Never mind the fact that Ryan really shouldn’t care about Kaitlin’s problems, nor should he put up with Marissa’s crap anymore, but he continues to because he’s useless now. It’s funny how when the show focused on Ryan, it was consistently good, and the farther it’s gotten away from him, the more it sucks. Wait, that’s not funny, that’s sad. It took bringing in Trey last year and shifting the focus back to Ryan in order to redeem season two after love triangles and lesbians ruined it. It’s not a coincidence. Ryan is a fabulous character when handled correctly. But having him solve the Cooper problems, while not dealing with his own, isn’t working. The beginning of the season had the best scene ever on the show, Ryan putting his head on Sandy’s shoulder in sadness. That should have been the beginning of emotional exploration and a stronger bond with Sandy and Kirsten through familial drama. But it hasn’t come anywhere near that. Kudos to Ryan for addressing Chili as “Bizarro Seth,” and a middle finger to Marissa for not realizing it was Ryan saying, “Get the hell away from that stupid school,” by the way.

But not all hope is lost on the show, though it’s certainly relegated to only a handful of screen minutes. Julie and Neil is the best written love story on this show so far. I don’t mean that they are as good of a couple as Seth and Summer, but the writing has been excellent because the writers took time to develop emotional complications for the two of them. Thus, everything made sense when they were together because it seemed like a case of neediness that led to chemistry. It was a completely logical, unforced storyline. Perhaps it was a bit contrived given that it is Summer’s dad and Marissa’s mom, but I’ll accept it because these two absolutely ooze chemistry. As someone recently said about Ted and Robin on the awesome How I Met Your Mother, these two have something so potent that you could bottle it and sell it. They’re just fun to watch on the screen. I am shocked that such a heavily medicated step-monster could have already left the house, though. Regardless, I thought the insertion of Veronica into the storyline was nice because she clearly has an agenda, and this was definitely a good way to get through it, plus it allows her to gold dig just a bit. Sports agent or not, you can always use the money of a plastic surgeon. It is a little creepy that she wants to date him after he’s change her boobs, but I guess it means that there’ll be no awkwardness. If he doesn’t like him, he could only blame himself. Anyway, a lot of people were angry that Julie compared Veronica dating Neil to the Gulf Coast. I’m not sure if people were angry at Julie or at the writers, but clearly, this is a problem with Julie. This line was perfectly in character, so the writing was not flawed at all. Julie, despite glimpses of humanity in the past and a huge chunk of humanity emerging this year, is very self-involved and always will be. It’s not something that she can overcome because it’s clearly deeply rooted in who she is. I’m sure it wasn’t intended to be disrespectful coming from Julie, but to her, she can reasonably equate the two things. And here’s to hoping that Julie and Veronica have a catfight or two or three or fifteen. There is a lot to explore with Veronica versus Julie. Trust me.

And it’s not just Veronica bringing the hot awesomeness to the show, but it’s her daughter, too. Taylor, who is just so incredibly excited to have friends, is part pathetic, part hilarious, and overall incredibly endearing. A lot of people are upset with the way that Seth and Summer are treating Taylor, especially since it’s clear the person they consider their real friend, Marissa, is a self-righteous bitch. And that’s true. She is a horrible, horrible person. But I don’t think that Seth and Summer are treating Taylor too badly. I think they tolerate her as best they can, but she’s so incredibly clingy, clearly starving for attention, that it’d be damned near impossible not to feel somewhat detached. They aren’t bad people, they’re just human. Granted, they’d probably be able to handle more if they would cut ties with Marissa, but that’s not going to happen. This story was a bit thin, though it was extremely funny. Seth’s obsession with genital warts is a bit disturbing, but it’s definitely a good plan. Go Google Image that and see what comes up. And I loved the idea that voting for Kerry would be enough of a turnoff; that’s a deliciously O.C. idea as it’s a complete satire on the community. I voted for Kerry, actually, so maybe that’s why I can’t get a date. Sadly, it looks like Neil/Veronica is off, and while that’s good for me as a Julie/Neil fan, it sucks for everyone who loved Taylor running around trying to choose a bedroom. Ah, teenagers are so full of life.

As for Sandy and Kirsten, well, they had one big scene together where they discussed Marissa. Then Sandy was funny when he agreed that Veronica was a “ho bag.” And then Kirsten told everyone to drink. Yeah, what a useless pair these two have become. From the moral core of Newport, the hilarious and loving couple, to the strained family who worked to come back together, they have always been enjoyable. They aren’t now.

And that’s going to do it this week, finally. It took a while, and now I’m tired. You’ll notice that the end of the review really slacked off, but that’s okay because if Schwartz can do it, then so can I.

I’ll be back next time and I’ll reintroduce the random thoughts section and hopefully I’ll something very good to say.


Questions, comments?


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I so agree with you, especially on the Marissa/Johnny crap... but i cant wait for your pot stirrer review, that was an interesting episode!!

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