The Third Season
In 2003, the Fox Network aired The O.C. and it took viewers by surprise and quickly become of television's more popular series. Set in Orange County, The O.C. is teenage melodrama about a displaced, troubled youth who finds himself a recent adoptee of a wealthy family. The series focused on his cultural adjustment to the underbelly of one of the nation's wealthiest groups of people. This series has been said to be a modern Beverly Hills, 90210 by some critics. It has quickly become so imbued into current pop culture that other television series such House make reference to its existence. Regardless, the point is that The O.C. is a pretty well-known show and chances are you have heard about it in some way or another. For more details about the series, please refer to DVD Talk's reviews of season one and season two.
My background with The O.C. is pretty limited. Prior to this review, I had never seen an episode, which is not because I had no interest in the series. No, the reason I have not seen The O.C. is simply because (for one reason or another) I have not had the chance to pick up the DVDs. So, keep this in mind as you read this review. I haven't seen the earlier seasons and I am not familiar with the cast or their important back stories. But also keep in mind, I love soapy dramas; so, I was more than happy to give The O.C. a chance.
When I first started season three, I was exposed to the replays of the season two cliffhangers--Marissa shooting Trey and Kirsten heading off to rehab. From these two events, I thought I was in for a show that was going to be even soapier and over-the-top than One Tree Hill. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it was a quite a lot for me to take in as a first exposure to the series. Frankly, I found the aftermath on the hokey side and somewhat lackluster. However, towards the end of the first DVD (season three's fourth episode), I started to really get into the show. By that time, I had a good idea about who were the important characters and their relationship with each other and the supporting cast. Soon after, I started to realize what a solid production to this series was, especially in comparison to other series of the same caliber.
Season three is packed with drama. The stories range from the aftermath of Ryan, Trey, and Marissa shooting, Kirsten dealing with her alcoholism, Caleb Nichol's estate (or rather lack of), new friends and old faces, character deaths, con artists, the SATs and college, teacher/student affairs, teenage bad boy surfers, and more. While watching season three of The O.C., you are promised a couple things. First of all, the drama never stops. Something is always happening to the cast. Secondly, there is always a great bit of humor tied into the content to make the show that much more fun.
The story dealing with Marissa throughout the season is a pretty big development for her character. Personally, I did not care for her. I found her to be a somewhat whiny character at times, and I just never warmed up to her. Regardless, there is a lot of drama surrounding her. At the end of season two, she shot Trey while trying to protect Ryan, who was on a rampage after he found out Trey tried to rape her. From this event, Marissa's life changes in many ways. She is expelled from the Harbor School and forced to attend the public high school Newport Union, where she meets some new faces like Johnny Harper (Ryan Donowho), a surfer who has his own drama that eventually leads to his death, and Kevin Volchok (Cam Gigandet), a tough guy surfer who makes Beverly Hills, 90210's Dylan McKay look like a puppy dog.
Marissa also faces life as a poor person. Her mother Julie was expecting to rake in the dough after the reading of her late husband Caleb Nichol's estate. Unfortunately, he was broke and left Julie nothing--which lead to Marissa's biological dad leaving town, Julie's lifestyle going from riches to rags (literally), and a joint business adventure between Julie and Kirsten. Julie also finds a new romance in Summer's dad Neil. Kirsten also continues to deal with her alcoholism and the loss of her father Caleb. This is after she has a run in with a con artist played by Jeri Ryan. With the Nichol estate bankrupt, the Newport Group is a sinking ship. Sandy decides to take over as president and CEO to use the company to do some good in the world by building low income housing. Something his father-in-law never saw eye to eye with him about. Joining Sandy as vice president is a young businessman from New York named Matt Ramsey (Jeff Hephner), who has his own drama and a taste for strippers.
The core four begin to expand their ranks. With Marissa off at public school, Ryan, Summer, and Seth have several run-ins with their peer Taylor Townsend (Autumn Reeser) at Harbor. Taylor is an overachieving, perky gal that just annoys you. She gives off a mixed vibe, as her character starts off pretty two-faced and plots against both Ryan and Marissa. She was also caught in some shameful activity with the dean of discipline. But eventually, she becomes an integral character once you have a better chance to know her. Another new face is Kaitlin Cooper (Willa Holland). Kaitlin is Marissa's younger sister who has been away at boarding school. She returns to The O.C. to spice things up in the middle of season three. She makes good friends with Johnny and plays a role in his demise.
Ryan is at the center of many season three stories. After the Marissa/Trey shooting, Ryan is targeted by the district attorney's office and arrested for murder. Later, his relationship with Marissa slowly deteriorates as she finds a new life at Newport Union. Eventually, they breakup and both find new partners. Ryan dates Johnny's cousin Sadie for a bit and later his ex-girlfriend Theresa. He has a pretty big scare when she tells him he is going to be a father! Despite Ryan and Marissa's parting, they still care for each other. Towards the end of the season, Ryan and Volchok get into it. The ordeal leads to Volchok blackmailing Ryan. Finally, Volchok's horrendous actions lead to a dangerous car accident.
What sets The O.C. a part from other teenage melodramas is how intelligent it can be. It is something my fellow reviewers have pointed out in the show's earlier seasons, and quite frankly, it is true. The characters and dialogue get so intelligent that sometimes it is easy to forget it is a soapy, drama. This aspect is a distinct advantage over other soapy, melodramas. The reason is that you can easily get lost in the world of The O.C. and be entertained in a way that does not always stem from the storylines that are filled to the brink with unbelievable melodrama. Instead, we are left with an intelligent drama that still has its soapy, eye rolling moments. Tie all this together, and you have an excellent primetime drama.
1. The Aftermath: Trey's in a coma, Marissa pulled the trigger, who's going to take the fall? Ryan? Buy maybe there's a way out for Kid Chino.
2. The Shape Of Things To Come: Senior year. But not for everyone. Marissa is expelled. Julie scrambles for cash, Sandy scrambles to make sense of Kristen's rehab and, to top it all, Ryan loses his cool and gets himself expelled, too.
3. The End Of Innocence: Ryan. Marissa. A romantic beach hut. You do the math. Meanwhile, the math in Caleb's will is easy: Julie gets zilch, Kirsten gets nada. Caleb was broke-and that adds up to a new dynamic fro the Cohens, Coopers and The Newport Group.
4. The Last Waltz: Public school? No problem. Marissa's glad to be at a school where no one knows about her. Oops. Everyone knows. Charlotte closes in on Kirsten. And Summer spies someone lip-locked with Taylor.
5. The Perfect Storm: Is Ryan shipping out? Sandy's mind-meld persuasion skills fail to convince him to stay. But where there's a will, there's another Cohen way. Charlotte now zeroes in on Julie; Summer outwits Taylor.
6. The Swells: Party by night. Surf by first light. The Dawn Patrol beach blast is the backdrop for a developing Marissa-Johnny attraction. Meanwhile, Taylor has a crush on...Seth?! And Ryan again lets his fists do his talking.
7. The Anger Management: Divide and conquer. Taylor schemes to separate Summer and Seth. Volchok tries to goad Ryan into a fight. Julie upends Charlotte's charity scam.
8. The Game Plan: Time to think about the future - college applications are due. Seth's eager, especially if the school is as far away from Newport as possible. Will Summer go with him? Marisa has another plan: She won't apply.
9. The Disconnect: Maybe Seth should accompany Summer to college. She's the one who (surprise!) aces the SAT. Another surprise: Sandy's right-hand man jeopardizes a New port Group account by hanging out at a strip club.
10. The Chrismukkah Bar Mitz-vahkkah: Seth's a man with a holiday plan: Hold an honorary bar mitzvah for Ryan and donate the funds to Johnny's surgery. Now try to convince Ryan to do it...and persuade Johnny to accept it. Also: Julie+Summer's dad? Stay tuned!
11. The Safe Harbor: One semester to go. Wouldn't it go better if Marissa returned to Harbor High? Seth, Ryan, Summer and even Taylor campaign for her readmittance - and Johnny steps out of the way. For now.
12. The Sister Act: Mini-Cooper isn't so mini now. Kaitlin, Marissa's younger sister, returns to O.C.-and she carries lots of emotional baggage. Plus: Kirsten-Julie dating biz is blackmailed into setting up a date for Veronica.
13. The Pot Stirrer: Little sister. Big problems. Kaitlin feels she's spent her whole life in Marissa's shadow - maybe now it's time for some payback. Seth, meanwhile, may be seeing his college plans go up in smoke.
14. The Cliffhanger: The Johnny-Kaitlin-Marissa-Ryan situation finds closure, perhaps, and tragedy for sure. Summer may be running out of forgiveness for Seth's half-truths. And Dr. Roberts makes a startling admission to Julie.
15. The Heavy Lifting: Life goes on. Love goes on. But how can anyone focus on Valentine's Day after Johnny's tragedy? Well, maybe love and understanding are the medicines everyone needs now. Even so, nothing will be easy.
16. The Road Warrior: Ryan road-trips with Sadie. Strip poker, anyone? Summer learns - ew! - about her dad and Julie. Kirsten worries that The Newport Group is corrupting Sandy. And Marisa is a suspect in Johnny's death.
17. The Journey: A little Cohen arm-twisting convinces Ryan that, yeah, he should do something special on his 18th birthday. So who's he going to invite to the party at The Bait Shop? Sadie? For sure. Marissa? Well...
18. The Undertow: Trouble's at the door. It's Jess, Trey's sometime girlfriend, and she's coming on to Ryan like Little Miss Vulnerable. Seth and Summer discover a, uh, wheelbarrow. And all those burning Volchok-Marissa glances ignite a bonfire.
19. A race to the bottom: Marissa's ties with Volchok may send her into substance-abuse freefall...but not before she gathers herself enough to save the Ryan-Sadie match. The Newport Group events turn violent.
20. The Day After Tomorrow: The Sweatshirt Bonfire is the party where all the seniors wear the sweatshirt of the college they'll be attending. Hey, Seth's not wearing a sweatshirt. What's up with that?
21. The Dawn Patrol: No party, no surf. It's a different Dawn Patrol: Ryan's off to Albuquerque to invites his mom Dawn to graduation (maybe). Seth quits Summer (oops). And, at Volchok's party, Marissa sees something secretly poured into a drink (uh-oh).
22. The College Try: Some go East, some stay West for freshmen orientation weekends. Ryan and Marisa arrive at Berkeley, and Summer and student/poseur Seth visit Brown. Familiar faces also surface. Anna is at Brown. And doesn't Theresa's baby look like...Ryan?
23. The Party Favor: Right dress. Wrong date. If you can't go to prom with the person you like, go with someone who makes the person you like jealous. There'll be many memories for the Core 4 after this prom. Not all of them will be happy.
24. The Man Of The Year: Sandy's picture will be on the cover of Riviera. Or, if the DA has his way, on a mug shot. More troubles: Volchok blackmails Ryan into a crime, Kirsten is drinking, and Seth burns down his dad's office. Didn't mean to. Honest.
25. The Graduates: Graduation: A time for friends, family, celebration, remembrance, letting go, and moving on to tomorrow. Odd man out in all the events is Volchok. Then, it happens...
The video in this release is given in an enhanced anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color format. The picture quality is quite good. It suffers from a slight grain, but detail remains to be sharp and clear. However, there are some occasional moments when the picture suffers compression artifacts. This is a rare occurrence, but it does happen.
The audio track in this release is in English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. Overall, the sound quality is very good, providing an audible and clean audio track. Like most TV on DVD releases the majority of the audio track is spoken dialogue and sounds rather flat. However, music does sound rich and vibrant.
The release has subtitles in French and Spanish. It is also supports closed captioning.
The third season of The O.C. comes with several featurettes as extras. They are spread across the entire collection. Here are the listings of the extras.
Extras on Disc 3
Making of the Subways (2:56) is a short clip with the band members of the Subways. It shows behind the scenes footage with the band on set. It also features a short interview. Nothing very exciting happens or is said.
Extras on Disc 5
What's in a Name? (13:48) is a featurette that stars creator Josh Schwartz. Schwartz begins with a brief introduction and prelude to the featurette's contents. The O.C. has a lot of characters and he started using names of people he knew. He talks about the characters with the names Jeff Frankel, Cameo McMillan, Matt Miller, Matt Ramsey, Nick Mercer, Joel McKuin, Kevin Volchok, Lisa Robin, Jim Mercer, Diana Kahn, and Steve Peiser, and relates the names to the real people.
Extras on Disc 7
From Script to Screen: The Party Favor (16:14) features a variety of cast and crew talking about the episode "The Party Favor". It begins with various cast and crew giving their experiences with prom (or at least a semi-humorous attempt). Apparently, only a couple of these beautiful people went to prom (or remember going). Next, we are given a behind the scenes look into various aspects of production (writing, props, directing, etc.) while Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, John Stephens, David Karl Calloway, Michael Lange, Thomas Fichter, and others talk about the writing process, production, and everything else necessary to put an episode together.
Pass the Remote (19:28) stars Josh Schwartz and John Stephens. It provides a video commentary about the episode "The Pot Stirrer". The two talk about select aspects of the episode, e.g., the characters humorous dynamic, the storyline, illegal use of drugs, and so on. Afterwards, Schwartz is with J.J. Philbin and they have a similar discussion for the episode "The Undertow".
Gags and Goofs (11:14) is your basic bloopers reel. It captures a side that you do not see in most of the cast members due to the dramatic nature of their roles. It is worth a few laughs.
The O.C. is a television drama about a group of wealthy individuals who live in Orange County. This particular show focuses on a young teenager who grew up in a poor family and was given a second chance at life when he was adopted into a wealthy family. Now, in "the O.C.", he and his new friends and family find themselves in a lot of soapy, melodrama. This season sees a naughty teacher/student relationship, the rich turned poor, character deaths, bad relationships, and lots of new faces to spice things up. What is good about this show is how the stories are handled. They remain at a very dramatic level, but at the same time they feel very intelligent and also incorporate a great deal of humor to keep your interest.
In the end, I had a great first experience with The O.C. While it took about four episodes to get into the show (I have never seen the show prior to this review), once I got through those four episodes I found I really enjoyed it. I think if I had sat through season one and two, I probably would have enjoyed it even more. Regardless, The O.C.: The Complete Third Season comes recommended.