The OC Season 4 Review

The fall of the greatest teen drama of the new millenium.

The OC Season 4 – Where do I even begin? In 2003, the series was a smart, funny, well-written drama that was forming its own sub-culture. Three years later it’s an absolute train wreck that has become a pure mockery of itself. Things got so bad that the show got canned over Christmas and the ended in February. How does that happen? I have my own conspiracy theories about jaded writers and sabotage, but none of that can be substantiated. I guess we’ll all have to wait for the inevitable E! True Hollywood story to find out the truth.

To be honest, the show was already displaying signs of impending death last season. Season 3 had a major drop-off in quality compared to the first two. However, with the kids heading to college, Season 4 offered The OC a chance at new life. With some well-thought-out plotlines, this new angle could infuse new life into the series. Sending them their separate ways would give the writers a host of new situations to place the characters in and plenty of opportunity to introduce new, intriguing characters. Instead, they opted for the route where everybody just hangs out with no motivation for an entire year and introduced us to Che’ and The Bullit.

Needless to say, Season 4 was a complete disaster. I’m going to refrain from going over every single fault in excruciating detail for two reasons. One, it would take way, way, way too much time to cover that many. And two, The OC has become so incredibly irrelevant, I doubt that many people are actually going to read this. Basically, the only reason I’m even taking the time to write this is for completeness’ sake, as I’ve done the other three seasons. But for those few of you “hardcore” fans that are still left, here’s a rundown of of the major plotpoints in Season 4.

Ryan took up cage fighting, Summer was leading a campaign to “save the chickens”, Ryan took off for Mexico to assassinate Volchok, The Cohens had 20 homeless people over for Thanksgiving dinner, Dr. Neil Roberts left to join the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, Julie is being pursued by George W. Bush on crack, Ryan is dating Taylor Townsend, Ryan and Taylor Townsend fell thirty feet off a roof and sustained no injuries other than simultaneous Christmas comas, a slutty green alien stole Summer’s pregnancy test, Ryan was conceived by Hercules, Taylor was the subject of a pornographic novel, Taylor chased Ryan around in a groundhog costume, Che had temporary homosexual feelings for Seth, Julie bounced from George W. Bush, to George W. Bush’s son, to Hercules, to George W. Bush, and then back to Hercules, Ryan and Seth attempted to buy a house from from two gay guys who wouldn’t sell until Kirsten got placenta all over their bedroom by spontaneously going into labor.

For any of you who didn’t watch Season 4, I promise you that I’m not making any of that up. Had I been able to take a time machine in 2004, right after Season 1 wrapped, and fast-forwarded to the writing of this article, I simply wouldn’t have believed it. A show that started with as much promise as The OC did, free-falling so far and so quickly, is simply unheard of.

Season 4 Cast:

Peter Gallagher
(Sandy Cohen)

To be honest with you, I have no idea what Sandy actually did this season. Granted, I’m writing this article three months after the season ended, so I’ve had some time to forget. But the fact that I can’t recall anything other than Sanford going back to the public defender’s office and having a baby, just further brings home the point that Season 4 really strayed from the original framework of The OC. In Season 1, Sandy was super-dad, always coming to his kids’ rescue, being a friend, giving sound advice. He was the glue holding the show together. I think it’s no

coincidence that The OC became irrelevant the same time Sandy did.

Benjamin McKenzie (Ryan Atwood)

What do you know? The tough guy from Chino ended up being a softie after all.

It made me want to puke. The old Ryan Atwood who used to punch everything in sight was pretty much absent for all of Season 4, save his brief cage-fighting stint in the early episdes.

Instead, we got to witness the romantically constipated Ryan brood over his woman problems with… Taylor Townsend??? How the writers ever felt that they could take the most annoying character on the show and turn her into the leading lady is beyond me. I mean, Ryan and Rosie O’Donnell is basically just as realistic of a couple as Ryan and Taylor. I realize that the death of Marissa left a major void in Ryan’s love life, but Taylor was simply not the way to go.

At this point, I could start a five paragraph diatribe about what they should’ve done and how these plotlines would probably kept the show alive. But since the show’s writers clearly decided to mail it in this year, I’m going to do the same with this season review. Onto the next character…

Adam Brody (Seth Cohen)

At this point, I’d like to applaud the show’s creative staff for their brilliant idea to have the show’s most clever and engaging character sit around on his rear all day in front of the TV instead of going to college. I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch Seth Cohen sit around in his boxers and waste away behind the counter of a comic book store? That’s so much more interesting than having him start his college life and face some real character-building challenges.

I’ve got a bunch of things to complain about with Summer, so I’ll use Seth’s space to complain about the incredible snoozefest that their

relationship became. They key to a successful show is to never keep the two “star-crossed lovers” together for too long. When they’re together and everything is happy, it’s boring. When they’re torn apart and in misery, everybody stays tuned in with the hopes that they’ll get together again. Josh Schwartz, The OC’s creator sort of referenced this when he called “Seth and Summer” the new “Ross and Rachel”. What he failed to realize is that the creators of “Friends” were able to drag the romance out for ten seasons because they managed to keep Ross and Rachel apart for 85% of the time. While I’m not a close follower of the show and might be wrong about this, I believe at one point, they were separated for something like six or seven years. In contrast, Seth and Summer managed to stay together for about 85% time. This made their romance so boring and predictable that eventually the writers pulled out the “we’re in a rut” angle as a source of conflict and even then the two stayed together. You’d think they’d learn…


Rachel Bilson
(Summer Roberts)

If The OC did one bit of good during its four years, it was introducing us to Rachel Bilson’s Summer Roberts. In my opinion, she was the best character on the show. So what did the writers do to her this season? Turn everyone’s favorite valley girl into a lunatic hippie. Not only did this gigantic gaffe force the insufferable Che upon us, it robbed us true OC fans of the one last joy we had left. Even in the midst of Season 3’s downward spiral, Rachel Bilson managed to come up with consistent quality performances. But this year, there just wasn’t any salvaging the awful trainwreck that

Summer had become. The OC Season 1 was the epitome of a television show that “works”. Why the Season 4 writers felt that they needed to do a complete 180 with every character and ruin that chemistry is beyond me. It just totally ruined the show. Yeah, The OC may have come to a close on February 22nd, 2007. But for me, the show died the day Summer launched the “save the chickens” campaign.

Autumn Reeser
(Taylor Townsend)

Here’s a quote from The OC Season 3 Review:

“The producers of The OC have signed Taylor Townsend up as a major player in Season 4. Needless to say, this does not bode well for the future of this series. Taylor’s going to need a major overhaul if she’s going to make it work. You seriously think that Ryan or Seth would go anywhere near her romantically? Where does she fit into the big picture? Where is she going to take the show? I just don’t get it. I never have.”

Folks, did I see this coming, or did I see this coming? So how is it that the people who are actually paid to make this show fun and interesting to watch didn’t? The Ryan/Taylor romance was a complete disaster from start to finish. Did the writers managed to develop Taylor’s character to the point where she wasn’t completely annoying and you could actually see how someone who was only borderline psychotic could actually want to be with her? Yeah. But by then the show was already cancelled. And even still, it just never really worked.

Kelly Rowan (Kirsten Cohen)

Again, like Sandy, I can’t really tell you what Kirsten did this season. I know she did the dating service thing and had a baby. But that’s about it. Isn’t that a bit of a problem when the initial premise of the show was that it revolved around the drama in both the kids and parents’ lives?

Melinda Clarke
(Julie Cooper)

Did I forget to mention that Julie Cooper was running a prostitute ring in that long list of ridiculous things that happened during Season 4?  Well, if so, you can add it to the list.  Julie’s main storyline was that she was coping with the loss of Marissa by jumping from man to man in an insane attempt to add some stability to her an Kaitlyn’s lives.  Does anybody care if I just move on so we can wrap this thing up?


Hey, is anybody even reading this?  Can I just brush over the last four characters really quickly?   I think I can…

Willa Holland
(Kaitlyn Cooper)

So remember the big idea to infuse new life into The OC by having Kaitlyn go to Harbor School and get a totally new group of teens to join the cast? Well let’s just say it went over like a fart in church. By the end of Season 4, Kaitlyn’s only friend was The Bullit. I think that sentence pretty much sums it up.

Chris Pratt (Che)

I hated him.

Gary Grubbs (Gordon Bullit)

Remember when Summer was trying to get Seth jealous in Season 1 by dating the funny guy, and Seth couldn’t stand him because he was so “over the top”? Well, I know I used this analogy last year’s season review as an analogy to explain why The OC was going down hill, but I feel I need to bring it up again. Because “The Bullit” is about as “over the top” as you can possibly get. When Bullit was on the golf course

with Sandy and pulled out his patented “Bang!” for the fist time, he may as well have been putting it right next to the temple of this show. There was just no going back from there.

Kevin Sorbo (Frank Atwood)

Ready for another one of those “If you told me this was how it was going to be in 2004, I wouldn’t have believed you” moments? I’m wrapping up my final Season Review of The OC with the guy who played Hercules.

Hold on tight, folks. The Apocalypse is now officially upon us.

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.