I've noticed a glut of bad reviews on Amazon regarding The OC Season 4, so I saw fit to write a review myself. This time, my fellow OC fans, I will bring you the truth.
The shiny truth. You see, Season 4 of The OC set everything right with the series, and left it in a semi-ironic haze of romantic comedy and glorious characters. It was bloody brilliant.
I was there for it all, my friends. I started watching The OC in March 2004, right from the start. I was in school, then, wearing a uniform and loving school like everyone else. So were the characters. Bright hopes about university, the future...all that crap.
Anyway, on April 24th 2007(the day before my birthday, no less), I sat and watched the last episode of The OC along with all the fans who undestood the show and the characters as well as I did. By this point, I was a journalist. I'd moved out, I gave up on University and found myself in a different place to when I started, and The OC Season 4 saw the characters doing exactly the same thing. We've come so far since it started, us fans, that you just wonder how life becomes such an insane blur.
Ryan starts the season in a tough place. We all know what happened with Mischa Barton in Season 3, and I could see why people were dropping away from the show. It was an extraordinarily long season at 27 episodes, which actually made the year longer than any other US show on air(including Lost and Desperate Housewives). The on-off romances were getting stale(even Josh Schwartz, creator of The OC, said that the notorious "Johnny " storyline was the one he would've taken back), the Kirsten alcoholic story was a mess and it felt without real direction.
Then, suddenly, everything was perfect. Season 3 still has a lot of good qualities; the gorgeous-yet-illegal Willa Holland was a spicy version of Kaitlin, Marissa's sister, and the brilliant Taylor Townsend(Autumn Reeser( suddenly gave the whole thing new energy. As well as that, 2006's season left us with the characters we still loved. They were funny, well-acted and you felt as if you knew them. For me, a viewer of TONS of diverse television shows, I believe that Seth, Ryan, Sandy, Kirsten, Summer et al are literally the best characters to ever grace television. They feel like a wider family, in a way, and knowing the show was cancelled was killer.
And what did I see on here? Idiots. Idiots saying that the departure of Mischa Barton ruined everything. As someone who actually knows The OC, and realised that Mischa was the only one of the magic four who couldn't act, I came up with two magical words for negative reviews of this season: "Get out".
So there it is. Get out. All the stuff that made season 3 shine is included here, with Taylor and Kaitlin joining the cast. Thank God. Literally the most beautiful set of women ever, most of them end up living in Dr Roberts' house, who sees his role in this season reduced to a minor, if brilliant attack on Grey's Anatomy.
All the characters react to Marissa's death differently. At first, this seems to be the thrust of the series in a dark way, but as soon as Summer finds Taylor in her Brown College dorm, you know the tone is going to be a little less melodramatic.
It's still there, though. One favourite moment of mine is in the first episode, which finds Ryan cage-fighting every night at a distance from the Cohen's. A brilliant cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill"(by Placebo) is played over the top of his final fight there. I won't say what happens, but there's one perfectly dramatic shot in that episode that they couldn't show on TV. It's brutal, it's iconic, and I love it.
Rather than telling you about what happens in the series(I reckon you already know, and you want to read something by someone who loves The OC to bits. Here I am), I'd rather just tell you how good it is, and how it fits into the scheme of things.
Obviously, this is the last year. If you've already got the first three sets, get this one without question. It's only 16 episodes long, but thanks to some cracking stories and perfect dialogue, it's easily The OC's best since season 1. When Marissa dies, so did all of the show's baggage and hang-ups.
Just to dispel a myth, though: The OC's viewing figures had already sunk to their final levels before Mischa Barton left. They were already at 4 million, and they never changed. She meant little!
Anyway, Taylor does enough to put Marissa to shame. Funny, beautiful and feisty, some of the episodes on offer here will just blow your mind. It's so energetic, especially when you factor in some of the crazy that they have going down.
I'm not spoiling it, though. "The Summer Bummer", "The Avengers", "The Chrismukkah-huh?" and "The End's Not Near, It's Here" are the best episodes.
Speaking of which, how is that last episode?
Best hour of television, ever. The last five minutes sum up everything.
When Ryan walks through the house...all the memories come flooding back. Good times.
And now it's gone; but remembered forever. Screw the critics who wrote it off as a mere soap opera; this season is tighter than God. Fantastic.
A complete boxset is on its way this year, though, so bear that in mind when you think of buying the season. It's a reasonable price, however. A very reasonable price...
Anyway, I said my part. This truly is TV at its best, and I'm glad it ended on such a high. Great in every way, and now it's time to move on...