New season of “The OC”: so bad, it hurts

When the DVD with “The Avengers,” the first episode of the new season of “The OC,” came into The Hatchet’s office last week, I picked it up, figuring I’d check it out and then let someone else write about it who cared more about the show than I do, or maybe not have an article on it at all. After all, the beginning of a season for the TV show might not exactly be newsworthy, and I figured quite frankly that Fox just wanted some free advertising.

I was wrong. I mean, I think Fox probably did want free advertising, but I was wrong about this not deserving coverage. So, at the risk of offering some nice juicy publicity to a show that doesn’t need it, well here it is. Try putting this up as a pull quote on your Web site, guys: “THE OC” MAKES MY SOUL HURT.

I am offended by the fact that I wasted 45 minutes of my life watching this episode, 45 minutes that I will never get back because of this wretched, soulless, utterly and irredeemably humorless drama-fest. The fourth season of the popular teen soap opera begins tonight on Fox at 9 p.m., and the only thing it accomplishes is proving that the show needs to die like Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton).

Incidentally, the show doesn’t miss Barton. The rest of the cast does, though, as they can no longer look like freaking Richard Attenborough just for being able to not screw up their lines, what with the contender for Worst Actress in the Entire World now gone.

Now, I’m no elitist here; I take the show at face value. It’s a ludicrous soap opera with absurd plotlines and occasionally clever dialogue and Peter Gallagher’s terribly impressive eyebrows. Or it was. Now it’s just a ludicrous soap opera with absurd plotlines, and no matter how impressive they are, Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows just aren’t enough (I do think we should lobby for them to get a separate section in the title sequence though, as they display more thespian range than 80% of the cast). Maybe they fired the writers so they could afford more custom-fitted vintage shirts for Adam Brody. I don’t know, but something’s gone terribly wrong.

In the past, the ridiculous plotlines actually served the show, or at least made it eminently watch-able. The way they telegraphed Kirsten’s drinking problem over the course of season two – just watch for her glass of wine in every scene – was pure cheese glory, and then there was the payoff of getting to watch the Very Special Substance Abuse episode that was mostly just an excuse for her father, Caleb, to demonstrate his accreditation at the Keanu Reeves School of Acting during the intervention, that went something like this:

“I’m a good mother,” Kirsten says.

“But you’re also an alcoholic,” responds Caleb, with all the emotion of a box of crackers.

But this was a good thing. “The OC” would kill for this kind of stuff now. The best they can come up with is a single hilarious line at the end, uttered by Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie), who is apparently trying his damnedest to actually become Steven Seagal, as he’s spending his nights participating in a fight club in this episode. No, really. He’s terribly brooding. Yep. Totally brooding. You can feel the pain in his heart. Or maybe your brain. One or the other. That’s all that’s left of the old “OC” though.

The drinking-game caliber “OC” is gone forever, I’m afraid. It’s just bad now, and not funny bad, and that’s a shame, because there are enough people we deal with every day who are completely out of touch with their own sublime ridiculousness, and it was sort of nice to have a TV show that was completely in touch with its own. n

“The OC” airs tonight at 9 p.m. on Fox.

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