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Ryan, Seth and co. shine in pop culture phenomenon

Molly Griffin | Monday, February 14, 2005

If you take the setting of “Beverly Hills 90210,” the “teens-using-SAT-caliber-vocabulary” dialogue of “Dawson’s Creek,” the attractiveness of the people in your average Abercrombie ad and the non-stop scandal of a soap opera, you’ll end up with a show like “The O.C.” The Fox hit manages to combine these seemingly incompatible elements into a highly entertaining, highly addictive show – and “The O.C.: Season One” DVD set offers enough extras and insights to make any obsessive-compulsive “O.C.” fan happy.The show follows 16-year-old Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie), a kid from the wrong side of the tracks with an alcoholic mother and a father who’s in jail. After he is arrested as an accomplice to his older brother’s car theft, he moves to Newport Beach with his lawyer, Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher). Sandy, his wife Kirsten (Kelly Rowan) and his son Seth (Adam Brody) adopt Ryan as one of their own, bringing the former Chino resident from having nothing to living in luxury in Orange County. Unfortunately, the O.C. may be an even easier place for Ryan to get into trouble.Ryan’s relationship with Seth is one of the most believable parts of the show, with both actors working well together. They bond over girl troubles, including Ryan’s pursuit of Marissa (Mischa Barton), a rich socialite who is living proof money can’t buy happiness, and Seth’s chase of Summer (Rachel Bilson), the almost-unattainable girl of his dreams. Along with their friends, family, co-workers and fellow students, the four main characters manage to get into a great deal of trouble, which at times can be ridiculous but is, on the whole, extremely entertaining. The show seems to pack in as much scandal, romance and drama as is humanly possible into one hour. Yet it never manages to completely shake free of a solid base in realism. The balance between the ludicrous and the reality that “The O.C.” maintains is what draws viewers back week after week. The DVD set is full of great extra materials, but its case is flimsy and easily broken. This DVD set, like so many other collections of television shows, cannot seem to find a durable means of storing the discs, which is extremely frustrating for consumers. The first six discs of the set include four 44-minute episodes per disc and the seventh DVD includes the final three episodes of the season. The set-up includes a “Play All” feature, language options including subtitles in English, Spanish and French and the obligatory special features. The special features are spread among the seven discs, so there is no one disc that includes all of the bonus material. The extras include interviews, deleted scenes, several featurettes and a look at the second season. The best extra is the “On-Screen Music Track Guide,” which displays a credit for each song as it plays during the episode and gives information about each band. “The O.C.” is quickly becoming known for featuring lesser-known artists like Death Cab for Cutie on the show, so this feature sheds light on that aspect of the show as well. The worst feature is “Inside the Real O.C.,” in which a producer interviews kids from the real O.C. They come off sounding pretentious, and the feature is really just an obnoxious waste of space.Overall, “The O.C.” is a major phenomenon in entertainment, and the DVD set, though weak in spots, proves to be a fitting vehicle for this hugely popular show.