Thursday, January 04, 2007

The rise and fall and rise of Ryan Atwood

Let's take a break for a moment and move to the small screen for an appreciation/not-so-guilty pleasure of sorts. About 11 months ago, I wrote about my frustration with the OC. It was one of only a handful of shows that I set aside time to watch. There was Baseball Tonight, Scrubs (before it became terrible), Rescue Me and the OC. Last season of the OC was dreadful though. one of those that made me wonder why I even watched. 3 years back it was one of those cultural phenomenon shows. Two years back it was still very good, even if it lost some of it's audience. Last season it was terrible and lost a large portion of it's audience, and after this season it's cancelled.

I've recieved a few emails from friends ribbing me. "This must be a terrible day for you!" with a press release from Fox attached announcing the OC has only eight more shows. They have seen me defend the show to no end, including my somewhat embarssing defense of still watching it last season. But something strange happened, after the total shipwreck that was season 3, this season has been absolutely spectacular. Maybe even better than season one. Granted only a few of us are still watching. But the few that I know all had the same reservations. "Okay, I'll watch the beginning of this season, but if it's crap, I am done." A few weeks later that is followed up with, "Oh my gosh, this is fantastic."

And yes, it's soap opera. And yes, it's predominately spoliled white rich kids in lush surroundings (though this week a black character actually has a speaking part!). Check and check. Fair enough. But get beyond that and amazingly enough these spoiled kids (and adults) are handling their relationships with more maturity than say, um, the doctors on Grey's Anatomy. Let's not get it twisted, this isn't groundbreaking, earth shattering world changing televison. It's just a damn good show with a fine script, and actors with great chemistry, and great comdic timing.

It's a simple formula really and it has been followed from the first episode (for the most part). Ryan Atwood is picked up from the wrong side of the tracks, taken in by a rich family, lives in their poolhouse, attends tons of parties, gets in some trouble, but his coolness somehow rubs of on the son, which alltogether enhances the life of the family. Oh, and he gets to stick around and maybe fall in love. Simple right. A succession of really good and positive things happening for a kid who was not having any luck before. Throw in some seedy side characters, parental marital issues, typiacl sterotyped California rich people gossip weirdness, a villain here and there, a half decent soundtrack, and voila!

But in season three the succession of good things for Atwood turned to a succession of ridiculous bad things. His love interest from the first episode turned out to be a n alcoholic, self destructive freak. His best freind and I guess adopted brother blows the college admission of his dreams while smoking weed, and the father figure who was great for 2 and a half years suddenly becomes a business bottom line obsessed bufoon. No wonder viewers tuned out, who wants to see that?

I don't even know why I stuck around, to be honest but this season it's back to the absurdist formual from the first two seasons. New love interest for Ryan Atwood, and she's phenomenal. The Cohen's marraige is a rock, thus cementing Sandy in the TV Dad Hall of Fame, Seth is somehow engaged to Summer, and the self destructive alcoholic's younger sister came into the show and is a much better character than she ever was. And it's all phenomenal and a laugh a minute.

So yeah, like anyone else I like to see people end things at the top of their game. Like John Elway and Michael Jordan (the first time), we can now add another to the pantheon.

Ryan Atwood. Farewell, Kid Chino.


mike said...

Never watched the show, never appreciated the main character having the same last name as me (and the same full name as my dead cousin), though I don't really know why, except it's weird to see my last name in print.


scot said...

Figures after I'd write this they'd have the worst show of teh current season. Hardly any laughs and just bogged down in a storyline they didn't know how to get out of.

viagra online said...

I think his attitude is not very mature, I think the success went to his head pretty soon.