There were few jobs more futile this fall and spring than trying to encourage viewers to return to "The O.C." I'd say, "But it's funny again!" and viewers would collectively say, "But they may kill off Meredith on 'Grey's Anatomy'!" and I'd say, "Well, I can't argue with that, but Autumn Reeser and Rachel Bilson and Melinda Clarke and Peter Gallagher are so very good!" and viewers would respond in unison, "Yes, but this is the week where they investigate a murder on 'CSI'!"
That's why "Grey's Anatomy" and "CSI" are coming back next season and why "The O.C." makes its finale DVD appearance this Tuesday (May 22) with its truncated fourth season. And I'll go back to my familiar mantra: If you gave up on "The O.C." when things got rough in the second and third seasons, or if you quit on the show after they killed off Marissa, check it out.
After a four-episode season-opening arc dealing with the emotional baggage of Marissa's demise, "The O.C." got back to doing what it always did best. Autumn Reeser's enhanced presence as the manic-but-loveable Taylor Townsend helped Ryan (Ben McKenzie) loosen up and embrace his inner romantic-comedy hero. Summer's (Bilson) semester at Brown opened her eyes to a world of social consciousness and stirred up tensions with Seth (Adam Brody). Sandy (Gallagher) and Kirsten (Kelly Rowan) spent an entire season without alcohol or guest stars trying to destroy their marriage, which didn't mean that there weren't complications. We met Che (Chris Pratt), Frank Atwood (Kevin Sorbo) and The Bullit (Gary Grubbs). There was an earthquake, a Chrismukkah dream sequence, several babies, multiple weddings and a final scene that brought the entire series full-circle.
The bonus features aren't exactly bountiful, but they're well-conceived. The best of the lot is the surprisingly long (16 minutes) and thoughtful "The Magic That Is Chrismukkah" featurette, dealing with what may well be the show's long-term legacy. In addition to the musings of the series' stars and creative team on the fabricated December holiday, the doc also includes more scholarly voices (including Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and a random media studies professor) speculating on the sociological need for the culturally blended semi-religious observation. The long and short of it is that while it's not very Jewish to celebrate any holiday with such a blatant messianic slant, in our modern world of interfaith unions, anything that encourages unity and togetherness is admirable.
A bit less intellectually intense is the 13-minute "Summer Roberts: Beauty Meets Brown," which charts the growth of Summer's character from superficial pilot walk-on character to series lead.
While the DVD boasts of "unaired scenes," it actually only refers to 90 seconds worth of cut footage, including 45 seconds of patio furniture shaking from the earthquake episode.
Series creator Josh Schwartz delivers an entertainingly motor-mouthed commentary over the finale, pointing out in-jokes, thanking nearly every person ever involved in the series and lamenting the various factors that caused the series' possibly premature conclusion. His ultimate conclusion -- that sometimes shows that burn white-hot get extinguished just as quickly -- is properly philosophical. The fourth season of "The O.C." is a return to form, while also offering closure to the handful of dedicated fans who stuck around.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times