The OC Season 3 Review – Part 1

Things don’t seem quite right as The OC enters it’s third season…

Season 1 of “The OC” gave us almost everything you could ever want in a TV show: Drama, Comedy, Scandal, Great Music, Rachel Bilson… The list goes on. Season 2 was a downgrade, but that was to be expected. What pitcher throws two perfect games in a row? At least the show managed to stay true to its roots and bring us what we had come to expect from Ryan, Marissa, Seth, and Summer. “The OC” Season 3 on the other hand…

Truth be told, I’m not sure I even want to acknowledge that there was a Season 3 of “The OC”. It’s just too painful. But before you think I’m overreacting, you have to realize what made “The OC” so special in the first place. Only then can you truly appreciate the horror that was Season 3.

You see, “The OC” was a teen drama that refused to be a teen drama. Sure it provided a heavy dose of high school crushes and break-ups, but there was so much more beneath the surface. “The OC” gave us a cast of solid actors and great humor. It relied heavily on the adults who helped to infuse the show with some more mature storylines to buffer all the teen angst. And perhaps most importantly it never took itself too seriously. The show was extremely self-aware, constantly taking smart jabs at itself for being a “teen drama”. It really was the perfect show – a guilty pleasure that was just legitimate enough to prevent you from feeling guilty about watching it.

Season 3 of “The OC” changed all of that. The storylines degraded into complete predictability, and far worse, into mindless drivel that caused even the most fervent OC fans to become apathetic. Were you concerned that the Dean of Discipline might kick Ryan out of Harbor? Did you spend sleepless nights wondering if Sandy would pull off the hospital deal? Did your heart sink when Seth started puffing on the reefer? Neither did mine.

Another blow to Season 3 was that the casting director pulled an Isaiah Thomas, acquiring a glut of low-quality talent to drag down the show. You see, there’s two types of actors on TV, quality ones and ones that are just there to look pretty. I know they say you can’t judge a book by its cover. But the reason we invented TV was so that we didn’t need to read books, so you can throw that theory out. Trust me, this is a near fact. If the guy looks like he just got done with an Abercrombie photo shoot or the girl looks like she’s coming off of fifty G’s worth of plastic surgery, you probably don’t want them on your show. It’s the people who are a little less “perfect-looking” like Adam Brody and Benjamin McKenzie, who know they’ll require more than just a six-pack to get by in life, that have actually honed their acting skills and can add quality to your show. If you don’t believe me, just compare the appearances of the cast of “The OC” Season 1 with the crew of a dud like “One Tree Hill”. Cased closed.

And finally, “The OC” Season 3 fell ridiculously short in the comedy department. The carefully crafted wit of Seth Cohen was nearly absent. Instead, the writers clearly fell victim to the thinking that “Everyone thinks Seth is funny, so we can just have him say anything and people will laugh”, and loaded his scripts with pre-packaged one liners. This lack of intelligent comedy was further demonstrated by the addition of Taylor Townsend to the cast. Again the writers incorrectly assumed that “if one joke about shacking up with a Korean delivery boy is good, sixty-eight jokes are even better.”

So with that being said, it’s time to move onto the meat of the review, where I give the traditional character by character synopsis. Hopefully I’ll be a little more positive from here on out. I don’t mean to be a harsh critic but there’s been a lot of things that I’ve been waiting to get off my chest for nine months. It’s a very sad thing to see the perfect show get drunk, climb on top of a cliff, and then face-plant forty feet to its death. Oh wait, that was Johnny…

Season 3 Cast:

Peter Gallagher
(Sandy Cohen)

Well so much for my attempt to remain positive, as I’m going with tradition and starting with Peter Gallagher. This season was just a mess for his character. I thought that Sandy’s tryst with Rebecca Bloom in Season 2 was a little out of character. Then Season 3 came along and totally destroyed everything that we had come to know and love about the #1 TV dad. The writers probably began with good intentions,

thinking that it would be interesting to see how Sandy responded to taking over the Newport group, a company which stood for everything he thought was wrong. But instead of making the storyline revolve around Sandy struggling with the position and using his cleverness to solve difficult situations, the writers decided to have him completely go against his character and as he sucumbed to corporate greed. Not only was it a dull turn of events, but it was completely unrealistic after knowing the passionate man of conviction that Sandy had been in the past. It’s acceptable when the WWF has Hulk Hogan turn heel for a few years, it’s another thing to have Superman go on a killing spree in Metropolis.

Benjamin McKenzie (Ryan Atwood)

Ok, now it’s time for a little positive feedback. I’m actually a big fan of the Season 3 Ryan Atwood.  The thing that irked me about Ryan in the past was his terrible decision making skills. I understood that he was supposed to be dealing with anger issues and all, but often times Mr.

Atwood would end up acting out in ways which defied common logic. (See Oliver Trask and Trey Atwood for more details)  This season Ryan ended up being one of the few characters that actually progressed. If you watch the series all the way through, you’ll notice a big change in the way he handles conflict.  However, that doesn’t mean that Ryan’s become Mr. Goody Two Shoes. After all, some of The OC’s best moments are Ryan’s brawls. So in  one of their few smart moves, this season’s writing crew made sure that the old Ryan reared his ugly head at just the right moments.  The fact that Ryan’s fights were few and far between, made it extra gratifying to watch him beat the snot out of the Dean of Discipline and Volchok.

adam brody

Adam Brody (Seth Cohen)

Seth was probably the biggest draw to the show for most people, so the fact that his character went down in flames this season probably has a lot to do with poor ratings for Season 3.  You see, Seth Cohen managed to walk a very thin line between being lovable and being an incredible loser.  Despite all his obvious flaws, there was always his great sense of humor and an amusing quirkiness that made us want to root for him.  However, this year it seemed as if the writers were saying, “You like humor and quirkiness?  Well, then we’re

taking the humor and quirkiness up five notches!” But here’s the inherent flaw in that line of thinking:  When you take subtle humor and begin to beat people over the head with it, it’s no longer subtle humor.  As a result, Adam Brody began playing a character that was less like the Seth we’d come to love, and more like that over-the-top humor guy that Summer was flirting with during Season 1. Do you see the irony in that?  Because it basically sums up exactly what was wrong with this season – The OC has become the complete opposite of everything it stood for in the beginning.

I’ll apologize again for all the negativity, but Seth was a huge reason why Season 3 was a major flop.  Instead of writing quality plotlines, the writers just took the good points of the show and killed them with overuse.  As a final example, take Seth’s tendency to make poor decisions in the past.  Sure he’d made more than his fair share of bonehead moves, but do they even compare to the whole Brown interview fiasco or burning down the Newport Group Headquarters with a blunt?  See what I mean?  Over the top.


mischa barton

Mischa Barton
(Marissa Cooper)

If there’s one thing that Season 3 will go down in history for, it’s the death of Marissa Cooper.  I realize that it was Mischa Barton’s contract demands that were the ultimate cause of her being written off the show.  But the writing was on the wall long before Mischa’s holdout…

This season was an absolute train wreck for Marissa. Somehow, the writers had managed to take the Queen of the Downward Spiral, and send her plummeting past the point of no return.  By the time it was all said an done, Marissa’s

character was damaged beyond repair.   We know that Marissa is supposed to be the girl who has everything but love, so she goes looking for it in all the wrong places.  But after stabbing Ryan in the back with Johnny and being sodomized by Volchok, any hope of redemption was lost.

***Random Tangent Alert***

Despite how gross it was to watch Marissa hook up with Vochok, he actually  pales in comparison to the guy Mischa Barton is dating in real life.  In a special “The OC” edition of American Idol Look-Alikes, I’ve placed two pictures below.  One is Cisco Adler, nightclub owner and significant other of Mischa Barton.  The other is The Princess Bride’s Mandy Patinkin. Can you tell who’s who?

Anyway, Marissa’s downfall this season just further proves what a mess The OC has become.  I realize that women across America cheered when Mischa Barton breathed her last breath as Marissa Cooper due to the whole “She’s so skinny! She can’t act” jealousy routine.  But what’s sad is that all the men were cheering as well, because we just couldn’t take anymore of Marissa’s storylines.

Think about it. This was the heroine of The OC.  This was the show’s leading female actress.  And she had been reduced to the point where her character was simply unwatchable. How did that happen?  And the saddest part is that despite the obvious need to cut off the dying limb and move on, Marissa is going to leave a huge void that I’m nearly certain Kaitlin Cooper will never be able to fill.

There still may be one way to right this terrible wrong, however. I know that it’s Ryan who’s been training all summer to take out Volchok. But how much better would it be to have Cicso Adler make a special guest appearance and do the job for him. I can see it now…

“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed Marissa. Prepare to die.”

Don’t worry. The bashing of Season 3 isn’t over just yet.  I haven’t even scratched the surface of Taylor Townsend, The Dean of Discipline, Anna and Theresa’s returns, and of course… Rachel Bilson!

Continue on to Part 2 of The OC Season 3 Review

mischa barton and cisco adler

By the way, I’m pretty sure this is Mischa Barton’s boyfriend.  Either that, or Star Magazine purchased some paparazzi shots of her recent efforts to help the homeless. I really can’t decide.

Derek Hanson

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson is the founder of the Bloguin Network and has been a Patriots fan for more than 20 years.