Four years ago when The O.C. came out it was a pretty big deal. I was finishing out high school back then, and like Beverly Hills 90210 did to the previous generation, The O.C. captivated the minds of the teenagers and young adults. I, like most people my age, watched the first season regularly. Back then I loved it and although some of its novelty has worn off, I can still really enjoy it. But as with most shows, as the years go on, the episodes become less entertaining – I watched much of the s…cond season, parts of the third season, and none of the fourth. Recently I had a fit of what could best be referred to as nostalgia, I rented the first three seasons of The O.C. and got back into what I loved so much back in 2003. As it stands I still really like the first season, the second season seemed lazy and predictable as with the third. Since I already know the fourth season was its last, I hope it somehow returned to its roots, regardless I am eagerly anticipating how things are going to wrap up.
If for some reason you’re reading this and have not yet seen the first three seasons of The O.C. I’ll briefly fill you in on the situation, so be prepared for spoilers. Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) was a troubled teenager living in Chino, after being busted for theft his public defender Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher) decided to adopt him giving him a new start in the posh Orange County. Before long Ryan befriends Sandy’s son Seth (Adam Brody) and the neighbor’s daughter Marissa (Mischa Barton). Of course there are love triangles, parties, fights, and other teenage matters that are dealt with throughout the show, but it mainly focuses on the relationships between Ryan and Marissa and Seth and the girl of his dreams Summer (Rachel Bilson). By the time season three wraps up Marissa has died in a car accident and Summer is heading to college out east.
Start season four; Summer has turned hippy at Brown, Ryan fights in underground cage matches, and everyone else is as they were. Among the issues dealt with in season four are Ryan and Taylor’s new relationship, Seth proposing to Summer, Ryan’s quest for revenge on Volchock (the guy responsible for Marissa’s death) and a lot more. The issues are a little over the top sometimes and somewhat repetitive but in the end I enjoyed this season, still nowhere near as much as the first one, but it managed to keep me entertained. Sandy is still preaching loads of advice, Ryan still finds new ways to get into trouble, Julie Cooper is still out for money, and her daughter Caitlin follows in her footsteps.
As I just mentioned this season didn’t quite have the same impact as the first or even second season, but it didn’t plummet completely into the abyss I still enjoyed it. If you are like most people I know and lost interest in the show after the original season, then you should just avoid this one as well. It does keep in formula with the past two seasons however and surely is a good watch for fans. So the episodes are pretty good, how about all the other stuff?
Presented in 1.78:1 Widescreen, The O.C. looks quite a bit better than I remember it looking on television, but keeping in mind that it is in fact a TV show it didn’t look spectacular. But as I mentioned for what it is I was impressed, unfortunately for a show taking place in beautiful Orange Country there was a large amount of interior shots so we aren’t really exposed too much scenes that would showcase the scenery. But the detail was rather nice, at times grainy at night scenes but overall I was very satisfied with how this turned out.
Warner has included a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which is utilized quite nicely in most of the episodes. But unlike several episodes in past seasons there was no scenes which showed bands playing in the local bar or soundtrack infested episodes, so this very dialogue heavy season didn’t get to fully take advantage of the surround sound capabilities. But there were frequent times in which all channels were used nicely, and overall I was impressed with this audio track as far as a TV-on-DVD is concerned.
I’m not sure why they found it necessary to include a full disc of features for the lack of actual featurettes we get, as well they are all quite weak which is disappointing for an otherwise well put together collection.
- Audio Commentary -Commentary by creator Josh Schwartz
- The Magic that is Chrismukkah – Religious experts, cast, and crew all discuss the holiday that is Chrismukkah (the meshing of Christian and Jewish holidays). Good for a chuckle or two but nothing deep like I think they attempted to do.
- Summer Roberts from beauty to Brown – Rachel Bison and crew discusses the character evolution of Summer Roberts, not entirely insightful but a nice recap of Summer’s character arc.
- Unaired Scenes – A collection two unaired scenes one of which are entertaining but you can see why they were both left on the cutting room floor.
Season four ends everything on The O.C. nicely with a pretty solid set of sixteen episodes sure to please fans of the show. The audio and video looked quite nice for TV-on-DVD and made for an all around good buy for fans of the show. But don’t expect much come way of the special features, I anticipated that extra disc to contain a lot more than the several dismal featurettes that it did.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- The Magic that is Chrismukkah
- Summer Roberts from beauty to Brown
- Unaired Scenes