Let’s get one thing clear: I’m a huge, huge, O.C. fan. I watch the show religiously, tape it if necessary and go through the DVDs once a month. There’s just one problem: Season Three. Now, everyone was decrying Season Two before it was finished going to air, and because of the ‘lag’ between American T.V. and Australian T.V., Season 3 is still showing here, I hesitate to begin to run it down as far as I want to. Yet, this is the weakest season yet, and it’s probably all due to the fact that all the big guns, original story lines and enjoyable characters have come and gone, unfortunately, in Season One. Season Two began as if it were a re-hashed Season One, only shifting a couple of plots around: this time the ‘love triangle’ affects Seth and Summer, Ryan and Marissa are finding it hard to get together and this time it’s someone that Ryan gets into that affects their relationship mid-season. And lest we forget the marriage troubles that Sandy and Kirsten were having, very reminiscent of Jimmy and Julie Cooper in the first.
Now I can understand having to repeat plots, characters and ideas in a T.V. series. It’s totally understandable, but not three times in three series. See, now Season One has been applied to Season Three, albeit covered over a little. Seth and Summer have a Taylor after Seth. Once again Marissa is getting involved with a guy (ala Oliver) who wants to be more than friends and Ryan is getting involved with another woman that is going to send Marissa into a spiral. Sandy and Kirsten are having their normal problems, only this time, Sandy is the fault. The list goes on. However, credit to the writers, they did bring in some new things, Seth and his marijuana, the High School and University fiascoes and Katlin, but those are three big things that, along with Season One’s relationships (Oliver/Marissa, Theresa/Ryan/Child, Marissa/Luke, Ryan/Julie, Seth/Summer, Seth/Summer/Anna) and Season Two’s (Ryan/Lindsay, Kirsten/Carter, Marissa/Alex, Seth/Alex, Caleb/Julie) were all rushed. Some of these plots had the potential to last a whole series, but most deserved longer than what they got. Instead of playing to the season schedule, play to the series. If a plot looks like it’s going to span over the break between seasons, let it. Have the final episode still a cliffhanger, show the repeats in the off season, and if you are so insecure about the audience’s intelligence and memory, not to mention the quality of the last episode, you could always make either a ‘recap’ episode to show before ratings kicks off again or, something totally original, half hour, fifteen minutes, something of this sort of length to show a couple of weeks before the show is back on to garner hype, that doesn’t have a massive bearing on the seasons, more, it’s an in between thing where if you watch, great, if you don’t, doesn’t matter, you haven’t missed anything.
For example, last episode of Season Two, Trey gets shot, Marissa is the shooter, Ryan is beat up, Seth and Summer have just arrived on the doorstep. Now, the start of Season Three had zip all explanation as to what happened in between. So, as ratings season is on the horizon, slot in, at the usual time-slot, on the usual day, a half hour, a twenty minute, a ten minute even, little part where Seth or Summer call the police. Week after that, have Ryan in a hospital room getting stitched up, the room next-door, Trey is being worked on. The week after you have Ryan being let out of hospital and walking past Trey, not stopping, just looking through the window, with Marissa, both reflecting their emotional state for the next week which is the official return of The O.C. and start of Season Three. A simple idea, it gets people back in, it links plots across seasons more strongly and its a way to increase exposure to increase ratings. But best of all it means you can stretch out the plots, keep them going for as long as they need to. To hearken back to an earlier part of the post, the Oliver/Marissa thing could have successfully run for a lot longer, had Oliver, after Ryan clues in that he is a psycho, reveal himself to, say, other side characters. Luke, as one person, was suspicious of him, but why? He could have had a run-in with Oliver and had Luke join Ryan in trying to convince Marissa that Oliver was trouble. Look at the possibilities this would open up: Marissa thinks Luke is trying to get her back, she doesn’t trust him, and then not Ryan, it’s plot gold! But instead it went for less that half the season, and Taylor Handley, the actor playing Oliver, was so damn good that the character was one of the best to have a supporting role over the life of the series, and was too good to waste.
This is one of those topics that I could go on for ever about, so, to give you a break, I’ll end this post here and continue with this at a further date.