19 December 2006

On the importance of good ladder safety

Good solid episode of The OC this week, but not a great one, and I think it could have been. I liked the corny It's a Wonderful Life conceit and felt like they could have made a real classic out of it. But I think what ultimately held it back was a reluctance to fully immerse the episode in the fantasy, and a hesitation to ask the audience to follow.

The set-up was fine, with the ladder accident and all, and Ryan's first few encounters with the other characters not recognising him were fun. But why keep jumping back to the real world? All of the interludes occuring back in reality were unnecessary, hindered the flow of the fantasy story and seemed like little more than a concession to an audience the writers imagined would be confused by the whole parallel universe thing.1 If you're that worried, why do the story at all? Come on, Schwartz: taking risks is what makes for great television. Sometimes.

Two moments made the reality interludes worthwhile:

  1. Seth, of course, has the whole thing figured out correctly. Why? Because he reads comic books, that's why. And comic books have the answers to all of life's mysteries.2
  2. When Julie threatened Taylor's mom by telling her that if she didn't delay her vacation to visit her comatose daughter in the hospital, she'd tell airport security that Veronica was carrying a bomb, to the shock (and, no doubt, admiration) of even Caitlin. Absolute classic Julie Cooper moment, the stuff of which legends are made.
Other than that, totally extraneous, and only distracted from the story at hand.

As for the main story, Ryan and Taylor's dual coma-dream? It was cute, it was fun. Not much to say about it really, other than it worked. Overall the episode was really one big interlude in the series, as no one's plotlines were advanced in any way. A throwaway, but an enjoyable one nonetheless. A few other observations:

  • Did it really need to be raining back in the real world while Ryan and Taylor were out cold? They say it never rains in southern California, you know..3 Theory: the whole thing was an extended riff on side 3 of Electric Ladyland, where Jimi Hendrix stares out the window on a rainy day and dreams about turning into a mermaid. I know it's a stretch, and Schwartz certainly doesn't seem like much of a classic rocker but hey, it works for me.
  • Taylor's gift for Ryan? The deluxe Foreman grill. Yes, of course. Has Ryan ever cooked anything in his life? Classic Taylor: so misguided you could just give her a big hug.
  • Couple more moments of Ryan–Kirsten sexual tension to file away for future study:
    1. Kirsten quizzing Ryan about inviting Taylor to Christmukkah dinner, then thinking she has his reluctance all figured out. Actually, Kiki, it's because someone else will be there for whom Ryan's got the hots. And she's bringin' the ham, if you know what I mean.
    2. Taylor speculating on dream-Kirsten's unfulfilling sex life, and Ryan becoming very uncomfortable not at the thought of his adoptive mother having sex, but rather at the thought of the object of his desires with another man.
  • Absolutely classic line, destined for the annals of Sethdom:
    Ryan: I'm from an alternate universe where your parents are still married and you and Summer are in love.

    Seth[utterly unfazed]: I always knew this would happen.

  • Tate motherfucking Donovan: back on the set like it's the oh-four all over again. Plus he finally scored Kirsten, even if it is for just one dream sequence. Seems like, unlike everybody else in the dream, the Coopers were actually better off in the Ryan-never-showed-up scenario. I mean, they're still divorced and Marissa's still dead, but Caitlin's a child prodigy and Jimmy never went broke (repeatedly). Which, as we all know, back in the real world, Ryan prevented... how exactly?
    Tangents & Clarifications
  1. Which, judging by a few of the comments on the boards, some of them were. Still, can't always aim for the lowest common denominator. Even in television. [Return]
  2. Except, like, how to score chicks. [Return]
  3. Although it did once before that I can remember, when Sandy got stuck in a storm with his fugitive ex-girlfriend and had to spend the night in a motel with her but nothing happened, honey! [Return]

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