As you gather your provisions for the looming Hurricane Sandy, you may find yourself searching for that perfect under-the-covers activity to pass the time. Look no further. We’ve decided to completely re-envision your most irritating Halloweek inconvenience this side of group costumes and blizzards — with a no-holds-barred marathon of the teen soap that convinced you to apply to Brown in the first place.
These are BlogDailyHerald’s top ten episodes of The O.C. accompanied by the musical moments that made them so damned unforgettable, after the jump.
A little background on the show: Josh Schwartz, a Rhode Island native and Wheeler grad, wrote the O.C. pilot in 2003 at age 26. When FOX bought the show, he became the youngest television creator in the history of the medium. The series followed Ryan Atwood, a troubled teen taken in by the wealthy Cohen family in their Newport Beach pool house. Antics ensue. Its longevity can be explained by its popularization of “Chrismukkah” and its “indie rock” playlist (giving bands like Death Cab, The Killers and Modest Mouse their first big commercial breaks). After a steady decline in quality and viewership, the show was cancelled after four seasons. You can find episodes on The WB.com and iTunes.
Without further adieu, our picks for a day well-spent. Beware of spoilers.
The pilot accomplishes the feat of introducing the show’s setting and major characters succinctly and in as fun a way as possible. Some of the kinks aren’t fully worked out — Seth comes across as aggressively geeky (not to mention stalkery, naming his sailboat after a girl he’s never spoken to) and Luke and Summer serve the standard jock and bimbo roles, respectively. But this is Sandy’s episode to shine. As the impossibly self-righteous defense attorney, he sees the potential in delinquent Ryan and invites him to join his family. “You could do worse,” he says as he pulls up to Ryan in his rich-person car. And for a generic teen drama, we certainly could do a hell of a lot worse.
“THE GAMBLE” (1×03)
Ryan’s alcoholic mother Dawn threatens to extract him from the pool house and take him back to Chino. Then she gets plastered at a Vegas-themed charity party and proves herself an incapable maternal figure, cementing Ryan’s tenure in Newport. Kirsten, Sandy’s wife and Ryan’s apprehensive host, finally comes around. The episode’s worth watching just for the final scene, where Dawn finally does the right thing by abandoning her son once more. She waves, he waves back, he joins the Cohens for breakfast, she privately breaks down in her taxi. “There’s a no-return policy now, you know that?” Brilliant.
“THE COUNTDOWN” (1×14)
Marissa Cooper may very well be the worst character in the series. Mischa Barton is an admittedly horrible actress that messes up most of her big emotional cues, but we were still unabashed Ryan/Marissa shippers all the way. That’s because of idealistic sweeping romantic gestures like that in “The Countdown,” when Ryan races up flights of stairs to meet her for a New Year’s kiss and makes it just in time. The episode also services the other characters well, introducing Kirsten’s crazy-hot younger sister Hailey, hooking Seth up with Anna (she had paperclip earrings!) and following Sandy and Kirsten to a twisted swingers party.
“THE THIRD WHEEL” (1×15)
Rooney was actually the first band to be featured on the show. Pre-Bait Shop, the gang takes a trip to watch them belt out headbangers like “I’m Shakin'” and “Terrible Person.” Nobody liked Psycho Oliver much, but if we just choose to ignore him and his drug problem, this episode captures the short-lived “Core Six” perfectly. Joining the classic Ryan/Seth/Marissa/Summer crew are Anna and Luke, peripheral characters that enhance the group dynamic just by hanging around. Luke Ward, the water polo douche that made a sudden fall from grace because everyone found out his dad was gay (the fuck?), made the abrupt transition to goofy, lovable, largely inconsequential bro. He and Anna were ultimately written out midway through Season One due to lack of importance, but the show was never as fun without them.
“THE STRIP” (1×26)
The boys take a weekend trip to The Vegas and find themselves accidentally courting a harem of prostitutes. Hailey and queen-bitch Julie have a bachelorette party cat-fight in the Cohen infinity pool. Marissa’s dad Jimmy finally grows a pair and punches one-percenter Caleb in the face. Ryan wins himself a trucker hat in a seedy underground poker game. Sandy kills it with sarcastic side comments throughout. How could anyone not love this episode?
“THE TIES THAT BIND” (1×27)
Evil super-couple Caleb and Julie tie the knot in the Season One finale, which serves as the backdrop for Ryan’s exit from Newport to care for Theresa, the mother of his unborn child (just roll with it). Ryan has a heart-wrenching goodbye to Marissa during a Jem-infused slow dance, and Seth dually spurns Summer to sail off to Tahiti. “For the record, the boat was named after you.” What follows is the best closing montage this writer has ever seen, set to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah.” We dare you not to shed a tear. Seriously.
“THE RAINY-DAY WOMEN” (2×14)
Season Two was increasingly muddled, with the writers introducing a host of new love interests that didn’t quite land (including a young, bisexual Olivia Wilde). While this episode has its problems, Seth and Summer’s famous Spiderman kiss set to a cover of Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” renders it indispensable. Plus, it’s the only time it ever rains on the show, so it’s obviously perfect for hurricane season.
“THE DEARLY BELOVED” (2×24)
Caleb dropped dead and everyone has to go to his funeral. This pushes his daughter Kirsten over the edge. It’s hinted throughout the first two seasons that Kirsten likes her booze, but as the second season progresses she comes to rely on it more and more. Finally the addiction overcomes her, and Ryan, Seth and Sandy are forced to stage an intervention. Oh yeah, and Marissa shoots Trey (or Logan, as mother Lowry Marshall might refer to him) to Imogen Heap’s “Hide & Seek,” spurring countless Dear Sister parodies. Mmm, whatcha say?
“THE AVENGERS” (4×01)
Okay, fuck Season Three. Fuck Johnny Harper and Volchok and even poor, misguided Chili. That shit is unwatchable. All you need to know is that Marissa dies at the end. Season Four opens with Ryan, wracked with guilt, in a 180% downward spiral. The guy’s cage-fighting at dive bars. It’s a complete departure from the series’ tone, but it oddly works better than expected. Then he forges an unlikely alliance with Julie, his would-be mother-in-law and former arch-enemy, as they conspire to find Marissa’s killer. It’s not a stellar episode of television by any means, but the intensity plays. Also, we see Summer starting her freshman year at Brown (woefully filmed at USC, with little more than establishing shots of the Van Wickle Gates and Chris Pratt as a hippie activist).
“THE END’S NOT NEAR, IT’S HERE” (4×16)
No one will make the case that The O.C. was cancelled before its time. Most will tell you that only Season One is worth watching. And that may be accurate. The majority of this episode, the series finale, is actually pretty awful. Ryan’s white-breaded dad courts a begrudgingly reformed Julie Cooper. Kirsten has a baby or something. Honestly, I stopped giving a shit about the show by this point. We all did. But the finale montage is a nice, low-key, bittersweet goodbye ode to the characters we knew and loved throughout the tumultuous eighth grade. Check it out.