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Welcome to ‘The OC’

Emily Howald | Monday, November 3, 2003

“Saved by the Bell” was the hit of the late ’80s, “90210” left its mark on the late ’90s, and with its growing popularity, Fox’s new hit, “The OC”, might possibly be considered the new “it” show for this decade.

The campus has become a bit calmer on Wednesday evening, as students have resorted to their rooms to watch the show and dramas unveil.

“The OC”, which stands for The Orange County, premiered this past summer and after a very successful preliminary season, Fox ordered an additional nine episodes for the fall to bring the show to a full compliment of 22 episodes. The much anticipated fall season premiere began on Oct. 29 and will run every Wednesday at 9 p.m.

What’s the show about?

“Welcome to the OC b—-; this is how it’s done in the Orange County,” a phrase that was originally directed at the main character, Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie), has now become emblematic to the meaning of the hot new show.

Ryan, a young, sexy, misguided teenager from the wrong neighborhood gets caught stealing a Camaro and ends up with a kindhearted public defender from the Orange County. Predictably, Ryan ends up living with his defender, Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher) after he is thrown out by his alcoholic mother, and he enters into a whole new realm of living, the root of the show, he enters into a life in The O.C.

Cohen’s wife, Kirsten (Kelly Rowan) is hesitant about allowing this stranger into her home, especially since Ryan is the same age as her comical, although slightly nerdy son, Seth (Adam Brody). Ryan earns his place in their household, as he proves to the family that he is merely looking for a second chance at life, and the fact that he becomes somewhat enamored with the next-door neighbor, Marissa (Mischa Barton) aids in his promise of good behavior.

Ryan, Marissa, Seth, and Marissa’s best friend, Summer (Rachel Bilson) develop a close friendship, even though it is a distinct separation between the rich and the poor, the cool and the nerdy. Ryan’s hope for a romantic development is distorted when he meets Marissa’s long-time boyfriend, Luke (Chris Carmack), and is bullied into understanding that Marissa is off-limits.

Seth has also had a deep lust for Summer since the beginning of the show and the tension between them has grown as the plot has unveiled. Seth’s witty humor and ability to make fun of nearly every situation, has appealed to Summer, although she fits the popular girl’s battle as to whether she can associate herself with someone of a lesser social status.

Marissa’s family life has gradually become more troublesome as the show progresses. For her father, Jimmy Cooper (Tate Donovan) has stumbled into trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission. After he is nearly cast out from their rich community, his wife, Julie (Melinda Clarke) asks for a divorce. Jimmy turns to his longtime friend, Kirsten, and his lust for her becomes more apparent as he becomes more estranged from his family.

Ryan gradually develops a closer relationship with the Cohen family and he establishes a place within their home. Although trouble seems to follow him, he worked throughout the season to earn the respect of those who have helped him. Although he is still deemed somewhat deviant by the members of the Orange County, they have begun to accept him for Kirsten and Sandy have encouraged it.

At the finale of the summer session, Marissa, Seth, Ryan and Summer decide to take a customary end-of-the-summer trip to Tijuana. Marissa discovers that her parents are divorcing and as she tries to go and drink her problems away at a club she learns that Luke is cheating on her. Marissa escapes from the group and overdoses on pain medicine. Ryan, Summer, and Seth search for her, and at the conclusion of the show, Ryan finds her passed out in a gutter. This griping conclusion has left much anticipation in the viewers as to the well-being of Marissa and the question of a possible, long-awaited relationship between Ryan and Marissa.

What to expect

As the second part of this first season commences, viewers should expect a lot of the drama to be unveiled in the first couple episodes.

“There are all sorts of surprises, but then again, they’re not outrageous surprises. No one is abducted by aliens,” Gallagher said of what to expect.

Marissa survives her drug overdose, but immediately seeks help from Ryan because her mom tries to commit her into a mental institution. Ryan and Marissa comfort Julie, and Marissa blatantly explains to her mother that she chooses her father above anything else.

Ryan and Marissa begin their romance, but not without the disapproving glare from Julie, and Luke’s battle to win her back. This relationship has been troubled from the start, but hopefully in the end it will work out in favor of the budding romantics.

The teens go back to school and Seth finds himself in a love triangle, a position he is entirely unfamiliar with, and quite possibly, his humor may not save him. Summer’s head begins to turn toward Seth when a new girl in school shows interest in the comical little Seth. Seth eventually has to make a decision, but expect a great deal of humor as Seth enters the unfamiliar territory of relationships.

Sandy leaves his position as a public defender, and tried his hand at more corporate law. He finds himself in a very compromising position when he is placed in a head-to-head battle with his wife’s company.

Many other surprises are expected this season, but creator/writer Josh Schwartz said not to expect the typical teen drama.

“We always wanted to do a multi-generational show that was as much about adults as it was about the kids. We covered a lot of territory in seven episodes. It’s impossible to keep moving that fast, but the show moves. It’s popping,” Schwartz said in a recent interview.

The cast

Benjamin McKenzie is a Texan boy who is a cross between James Dean and a young Russell Crowe. He recently moved to LA in hopes to pursue his acting dream, and he landed the lead role in “The OC” shortly after his arrival. The 24 year old actor isn’t entirely like his bad boy personality that Fox depicts him as, however, cast members have said that it takes a bit to get him to crack a smile.

“It’s a Fox thing, the bad-boy image. They’re trying to type me out. There are worse things in life, you know. I’m just really excited about the opportunity,” McKenzie recently said in California at an interview.

Peter Gallagher is also excited at the opportunity to work on the show, but he is just happy that for once he is not portrayed as the bad guy. Gallagher has stared in While You Were Sleeping, Johnny Skidmarks, The Man Who Knew Too Little, Center Stage, and American Beauty, amongst others. Gallagher is excited about the content of the show as well.

“I never saw this as a teen drama. Why tell half the story when you can tell it all? There’s no greater joy than watching people in a rich, gated community fall flat on their faces, and discover that regardless of income level, being a parent is the hardest job in the world,” Gallagher said.

Kelly Rowan stars as Gallagher’s wife and is known for her role in Hook, Assassins, and 187. She is also very active in producing and has appeared in several television series.

Adam Brody, who is known as the geeky comic relief for the show, began perusing his career when his parents thought he was heading off to college. Brody has made several appearances on TV sitcoms, and he is appeared in The Ring and Holding Out.

Mischa Barton, the glamour next-door neighbor, is a native of England landed her role on “The OC” at age 17. She began her career at the age of nine in New York and has landed many parts in numerous common features. She premiered in Notting Hill and The Sixth Sense, and has recently been spotted on Neutrogena ads.

The OC

“The OC” began as a replacement for the gap that was created by losing “Dawson’s Creek,” “90210,” “Felicity”, and many others, but it has developed into a hit show that stands on a level all by itself. It has evolved past the petty relationships of previous nighttime dramas and faces issues that are prevalent in society today. Although it may be a bit outlandish in its portrayal of the Orange County, it is, nonetheless, a new hit for the season.

So next Wednesday when you are looking for something to do, flip on Fox at 9 p.m. and “Welcome to The OC.”