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One Tree Hill Leaps Forward Four Years

Observer Scene | Friday, February 1, 2008

“One Tree Hill” creator and writer Mark Schwahn decided to do something different with the typical teen soap formula this year, skyrocketing his characters four years into the future. Rather than create a fake university for all his characters to magically attend after high school (like “Beverly Hills 90210”), he had them go their separate ways after last season’s high school graduation. Now that season five has started up again, viewers are witnessing their favorite Tree Hill-ers leading post-college graduation lives. This new angle offers a boost of realism, as well as the capability to give viewers more life-altering twists – like engagements, weddings and career drama – to propel the plot forward.

Schwahn’s decision to skip ahead four years presents several advantages. The actors and actresses are playing characters much closer to their actual age, a refreshing change for an aging fan base. Unfortunately, the adult roles of Coach Whitey, Karen Roe and Deb Scott have passed to possible guest stars. As well, the opening credits no longer feature Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Wanna Be.” The changes are a risky leap for the show, but ones that will hopefully pay off.

The show’s storyline has been infused with even more drama. Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) is struggling to write his second book, Peyton (Hilarie Burton) is faltering in the music business, Brooke (Sophia Bush) is a famous, but lonely fashion designer and Nathan (James Lafferty) and Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) are struggling with the premature end to Nathan’s basketball career. However, instead of wallowing for half of the season, the characters have decided to get their lives back on track. Peyton quit her thankless job and headed back to Tree Hill, but too late, finding her ex, Lucas, dating his editor, Lindsey (Michaela McManus). As well, Brooke has returned home to be by Peyton’s side and Nathan has realized he’s an alcoholic.

New actors have also joined the cast. Last season’s villain, Dan Scott, the father of Lucas and Nathan, is in jail for murdering his brother, so soap veteran Daphne Zuniga is the new baddie in town. She plays Veronica, the domineering executive of Brooke’s company as well as Brooke’s hellish mother. Torey DeVitto plays Nanny Carrie who is filling Haley’s role of wife and mother. The best addition to the cast has been Jackson Brundage as Nathan and Haley’s son, James Lucas Scott. Brundage is an adorable boy with serious acting chops. The jump into the future will bring more adult storylines – previous seasons have tackled controversial issues like teen pregnancy, breast cancer, and death and school shootings. Luckily it appears that the love triangle of Peyton, Lucas and Brooke will be avoided this time around.

Due to the writers strike, “One Tree Hill” is scheduled to end after only seven new episodes. The last will be the show’s 100th episode.