Category Archives: The O.C.

For Your Consideration: Supporting Actresses – Autumn Reeser and Jane Krakowski

[In Week Two of Cultural Learnings’ 59th Annual Emmy Awards Nominations Preview, we’re looking at possible contenders for the Supporting Actress awards in both drama and comedy. Today, we present our second set of candidates. For last week’s Supporting Actor candidates, and an index of all candidates, Click Here]

Supporting Actress in a Drama

Autumn Reeser (Taylor)

The O.C.

I’m basically going really far out on a limb here, but there is a definite theme with today’s selections and Autumn Reeser fits right in. Introduced as a stuck up villain for Mischa Barton’s Marissa who hooked up with the evil Dean Hess (It was embrassing for all involved), Taylor was a character left as almost purely one-dimensional…but then something happened. As the third season progressed, she began to change; her mother was seen as a tyrant, and she began to pursue a friendship with Seth, Summer and the gang. As the show progressed into its 4th season, now Marissa free, Autumn Reeser was made a regular cast member. And, as a result, she became the scene stealer the show was clearly looking for. She was smart, funny, insanely charming, and she managed to make a relationship between Taylor and Ben McKenzie’s Ryan work far better than it should have. Basically, Autumn Reeser was one of the main reasons for The O.C.’s creative resurgence, and even though it’s a long shot and I once found her insufferable, I am going to put her under consideration for an Emmy Award.

The challenge for any new regular cast member, even one who was recurring before, is integrating into the existing cast. This, it seems, was Reeser’s calling. She managed to have memorable scenes with pretty much every single character. She had fantastic banter with Kirsten and Sandy, unconventional girl talk with Summer, the usual humour from Seth, and, of course, an actual relationship with Ryan. There was even some fantastic Julie/Taylor moments in there as well. And every single time, she stole the scene: when Taylor was in a scene, chances are she was the focal point.

And yet, Reeser always gave her a certain vulnerable side, never quite becoming entirely the neurotic mess Taylor usually is. On a show that often fell apart, Taylor was always consistent in her actions, and I think that any Emmy voters who see an episode of The O.C. for Emmy consideration will see her as a shining beacon of hope amongst teen soapiness. Even as an admitted fan of the show this season, I know that she has little chance of standing out. But, she basically knocked every scene out of the park, and in terms of supporting performances I can’t help but consider her seriously. A lot of things saved The O.C. this year, but Autumn Reeser deserves a large portion of the credit.

Episode Selection: “The Sleeping Beauty” (Aired November 30th, 2007)

This episode isn’t actually her Emmy submission, as she decided to submit one of the more dramatic performances from the utterly awful story arc with her French husband showing up. However, this early season episode proved to me that this reboot of the show could work, and basically make the Taylor/Ryan relationship believable in one fell swoop. She has funny scenes with the Cohens, with Kaitlin Cooper, and of course with Ryan. She is funny, engaging, heartbroken, nervous…it’s a tour de force performance, and isn’t all caught up in annoying French husbands like she is in The French Connection. She manages, here, to be an emotional connection for the audience. The fact that she makes a contrived relationship work in this manner is deserving of Emmy attention, simple as that.

YouTube“The Sleeping Beauty”

Supporting Actress in a Comedy

Jane Krakowski (Jenna)

30 Rock

I have said some unkind things in the past about Jane Krakowski’s Jenna. I believe, at multiple points, I wondered whether she was really necessary for the show’s dynamics after she was absent for a few weeks. And, to be honest, the show was better without her. However, in retrospect, I think that my favourite 30 Rock episodes feature Jenna in some capacity. It’s weird, because while I dislike her character in comparison to Liz, Jack, Tracy…she’s still a part of this cast. She’s almost always the butt of the joke, but I think that you need someone like that to be around. Often the victim of poor writing, when the writing was good Krakowski always lived up to the material. While part of me feels she was extraneous to the show’s best elements, the episodes that featured her brought some of the show’s best comedy. It wasn’t the most individualistic comedy performance of the year, but I think it should at least be considered.

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Filed under 30 Rock, Award Shows, Emmy Awards, FOX, NBC, Television, The O.C.

Network Upfronts Extravaganza – ‘FOX’ Preview

It’s going to end up as the #1 network this season due to the American Idol juggernaut. And yet, can we really say that FOX has had a successful year? It’s to the point now where we really can’t even include Idol in the show’s ratings in order to get a decent view into its true success. The reality is that FOX had a rough development season, failing to put together a single new show that was buzzworthy except for the one they gave a shot after American Idol in the second half of the season…and a game show. The network looks to diversify that success yet again this season, and they’ve got a few options on the table which could get them there…and some which are just plain awful.

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Filed under 'Til Death, 24, American Idol, Bones, Drive, FOX, House, Prison Break, Ratings, Reality TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Television, The O.C., Upfronts

Network Upfronts Extravaganza: ‘The CW’ Preview

 

UPDATE: Hey everyone! Final word is in: One Tree Hill was Renewed! Get up and celebrate!

That’s right:

One Tree Hill is Renewed

…so congratulations to everyone.

In their first year as a network, The CW has been forced to weather failure after failure. Between the failure of Veronica Mars to find an audience, the failure for 7th Heaven to turn its “Series” finale success into a final season of high-rated television, and the absolute decimation of its Comedy Lineup after being moved to Monday Nights, the network has struggled to define a new identity for itself . However, perhaps more than anything else, The CW’s largest failure is the fact that of its new pilots at the beginning of the season, none of them became anything even close to a success. So, they face a unique challenge this time around: they need to find pilots which give them an identity that will make them a successful network next season. Do they have what it takes?

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Filed under Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, Ratings, Reaper, Television, The CW, The O.C., Upfronts, Veronica Mars

The Top 10 Episodes of February Sweeps 2007

It’s perhaps the most important non-premiere/finale month in the TV Calendar, the month where shows and networks are made and broken. Now, while I’m enough of a TV Geek to know when these periods are, Wikipedia has actually taught me a whole lot more on the subject. What is a Sweeps Period, you ask?

Link: Wikipedia – Nielsen Ratings System – Sweeps

“Much of the ratings system, however, still consists of the completion by viewers of ratings diaries, in which a viewer records his or her viewing habits, generally for a week, in exchange for being advanced a nominal fee. These diaries play an especially important role during the four sweeps periods conducted in February, May, July and November in an attempt to measure smaller local market audiences in markets that are not covered by People Meter samples already…”

Television networks and other programmers make unusual efforts to attract additional viewers during these periods, including airing mostly first-run programming as opposed to repeats, airing more special broadcasts, and including special content in programming such as guest stars, controversial and unexpected plots or topics, extended episodes, finales, and increased competition in advertising.”

So, during these periods the Nielsen ratings system is gathering data on those areas that are not usually found within their polls of the nation. As a result, this is the time when advertisers are most interested in seeing what people in the entirety of the U.S. are watching, so networks have a vested financial interest: the more different populations watching, the more advertising dollars they may be able to charge in the upcoming season.

So, much like the article says, February is defined by event programming and new episodes of shows. There are guest stars, huge new plot arcs, explosions, premieres, and just about everything else you can imagine. And, it is now my job to go back through this month and television and find out which 10 episodes stood out above all others. It’s a tough task, but I believe I’m up to the challenge.

Honourable Mentions

There are the episodes that were considered for the list, but just didn’t make the cut. Still, they represent some quality television and should be commended. Also, since I limited the final list to one from each show, some of these could have ranked quite easily.

The Amazing Race – “Beauty is Sometimes Skin Deep”
Gilmore Girls – “I’m a Kayak, Hear Me Roar”
Grey’s Anatomy – “Wishin’ and Hopin’”
Heroes – “Unexpected”
Lost – “Flashes Before Your Eyes”
The Office – “Cocktails”
Ugly Betty – “I’m Coming Out”

The Top 10 Episodes

Of February Sweeps 2007

(Episodes must air between January 29th and February 28th)

10. Veronica Mars – “Papa’s Cabin”
Airdate: February 27th, 2007

While not reaching the heights of its first season, the end of the 2nd Season Three arc on “Veronica Mars” felt more satisfying than its first. Things came together in a logical way, the perpetrator (Tim Foyle) didn’t turn into a raving lunatic at the episode’s end, and there were some nice comedic moments along the way to keep things a little bit light. The show will never be as cohesive as it was in its first season, but this episode shows that they’re still capable of ending an arc in a satisfactory manner.

9. Gilmore Girls – “I’m a Kayak, Hear Me Roar”
Airdate: February 19th, 2007

While certainly not the show’s best episode, and one that certainly won’t be remembered as a pivotal episode for the series, the fallout from Lorelai’s breakup with Christopher was incredibly well handled. Lorelai told Rory first, and then painstakingly told her mother while both were a little bit drunk. That level of mother-daughter bonding between Lorelai and Emily is rare for the series, and it was handled extremely well; when Lorelai woke up the next morning to find that her mother was now cold and angry about it all, it seemed even more natural. I’ve stopped thinking about the switch in producers for the show, and episodes like this are not changing that any time soon.

8. The O.C. – “The End’s Not Near, It’s Here”
Airdate: February 22nd, 2007

Although my detailed thoughts about the episode can be found within Thursday Night TV Club, on a simple level it was a satisfactory finale to a show that, a year ago, I had written off. While it was certainly not the simplest finale, and it was plenty contrived, it did its job well enough to deserve a spot on this list. It was an hour of television that made you forget, for just a second, that you sat through two seasons of absolute shit to get to this point; I’d say that’s a successful finale. As it ended with a young Ryan look-alike sitting, clad in his grey hoodie, looking lost, it was fitting; Ryan has turned into Sandy, and the circle continues.

7. The Office – “Business School”
Airdate: February 15th, 2007

While it may not be the show’s best episode of the season, and lacked the drama inherent within the next week’s “Cocktails,” I think that Joss Whedon defeated J.J. Abrams in the battle of the guest directors. From the hilarious “Jim the Vampire” storyline, to the handling of the bat by Dwight, to Michael’s candy bar lecture style, the episode delivered the comedy. However, it also dealt with the relationship between Ryan and Michael, an oft ignored one, and Pam’s art show provided some drama between her and Roy and a nice moment between her and Michael. It wasn’t a perfect episode, but it blended comedy and drama into a quality half hour of television.

6. Battlestar Galactica – “Dirty Hands”
Airdate: February 25th, 2007

Stuck with three filler episodes during the February Sweeps period, Battlestar Galactica managed to make one of them work to great effect. Tyrol’s return to a position of labour boss, as the episode was advertised was predictable, but it was the context which provided a great deal of interest. The idea of Baltar smuggling a book out of his prison cell is another nod to historical events, and its effects on the core storyline were immediate; painting Adama and Roslin as the aristocracy ,and then having them be a little bit crazy, paints a picture that is a fascinating microcosm of true events and one that complicates the fleet’s dynamics. Battlestar may be at its most explosive when dealing with the Cylons, but it’s at its best when it delves into the political drama inherent in their situation.

5. House – “One Day, One Room”
Airdate: January 30th, 2007

An episode so divisive that I felt like blogging about it specifically, it very much redeemed House in my eyes after it had struggled to keep my attention. While I think that the episode featuring Cuddy’s blind date may have been more entertaining, I think that this story of a rape victim that relates to House was far more interesting. The philosophical discussions were not life-changing, but they were necessary to balance out the fairly boring medical cases which had come before it.

House is at its best when it balances these elements, and this episode was something that I needed in order to continue to enjoy the show. While I can understand that some people may disagree with this, and considered the episode too preachy and abstract, I also think that neither of those are overly negative attributes. After the absolutely dreadful Tritter arc, which took the show in circles for a good six episodes, it was good to return to something on a larger scale that could actually change the titular character in some fashion. Divisive or not, the episode was the perfect example of what House needs to do to stay relevant.

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Filed under Battlestar Galactica, Gilmore Girls, Heroes, Lost, Television, The O.C., The Office, Veronica Mars

Thursday Night TV Club – February 22nd, 2007

 

The Office

I gasped. When Pam told Roy that she had kissed Jim a month before their wedding date, I gasped. Directed by J.J. Abrams, the episode was one built almost entirely around drama, really quite simple drama at that. Much like Joss Whedon worked for last week’s action/vampire oriented episode, Abrams worked well for this episode that was all about the drama caused by two budding relationships (Jan/Michael, Pam/Roy). At episode’s end, Roy went batshit crazy (Which was a bit sudden considering his recent character change, but his sobering down at the end at least put his moment of anger into perspective), and Michael and Jan find themselves at a crossroads where their secret relationship doesn’t work so well going public. It was a good episode, though, even though it focused almost entirely on the dramatic aspects. 

Scrubs

Scrubs continues to settle in around the good but not great area. There is still some solid comedy here, but it just seems like it isn’t going anywhere. J.D. is lacking a purpose, Turk and Carla are lacking drama, Eliot is lacking any real spark with Keith, and even Dr. Cox has lost any sort of drive. It’s really not much more than any multi-camera sitcom at this point; heck, I’d say it has even less of an overarching plot than a show like How I Met My Mother. Still, it has some fairly good jokes here and there, and it’s certainly still enjoyable to see these characters interact. I like recurring patients on the show, and Brian works well, but it just isn’t giving us anything new. 

30 Rock

“I would like to be Michelle Pfeiffer to your angry black kid,” “I want to take this cornbread behind the middle school and get it pregnant,” and Kenneth and Tracy harmonizing to Annie: all in the cold open to tonight’s 30 Rock. The fact that the episode’s writer, Matt Hubbard, came from Joey of all places shocks me, because it was very sharply written. Kenneth as the awkward Entourage member who stirs up the shit, Liz and Jack v. Josh and Agent, Jenna and her unfortunate political knowledge (The ol’ Osama/Obama slip. If it can happen to CNN, it can happen to everyone)…it was all pretty much amazing. Oh so much drama, oh so many cultural references…the fact that this show is in danger of being cancelled hurts me. It hurts me deep. “Television on. PORNOGRAPHY!” The entire thing was an incredibly well orchestrated piece of comedy, right down to the Bodyguard moment to end the episode.

 

The O.C.

In a show that was often about relationships, about the connections between two people, it was somewhat refreshing to see a finale that was more about individual characters than it was about Seth/Summer, Ryan/Taylor or Julie/Frank or Bullit. It wasn’t about these pairings, but rather the individuals at their centre. In the end, Ryan is happy, Seth is happy, Summer is happy, Julie is happy. Sandy and Kirsten are happy, connected as a unit, with a new daughter in tow.

Flashing forward six months skips what would have been unnecessary drama. While I thought that they turned Taylor into a bit too much of a spazz compared to the past few weeks, the fact of the matter is that it all makes sense. In the wake of the Earthquake, everyone looked to settle for what seemed easiest. Taylor and Ryan abandoned their relationship, Seth and Summer gave up on their passions, Kirsten settled on Newport as their home, Sandy settled his dreams, Julie settled on Bullit.

The episode, more than about creating happy endings, was about creating happiness for each individual character. It was about fixing the problems that caused as the earth, and the characters, settled after the Earthquake, not about fixing all of their problems in one fell swoop. Sure, there were the occasional contrivances designed to make everything sugary, but they were plot-based only; the characters reached natural, relevant conclusions.

I didn’t say much in my obituary piece about how I really felt about the show’s quality. The fact is that I didn’t pay much attention to the 3rd season, I stopped watching during the whole Johnny saga. And yet, I tuned into Season Four, and continued watching. I liked the addition of Taylor, and the character of Kaitlin was a pleasant surprise. Bullit was grating at first, but he grew ever so charming in the end. Season Four saw Ryan become more emotional (and funnier), and gave Summer a purpose she hadn’t had before.

Whether it was perfect or not, I think Season Four did a great job of leading us to a conclusion that was satisfactory. It’s tough to really complain with any of the conclusions found within the episode; we see Ryan as a successful architect, Sandy as a professor, Seth and Summer marrying, Taylor and Ryan’s relationship remaining ambiguous but friendly, Julie graduating from college (Bullit/Frank & Son/Kaitlin on Team Julie was incredibly powerful for the character’s trip from trailer park to Newport), and Ryan offering assistance to yet another hoodie-wearing youth on the streets.

Schwartz kept the nostalgia for the end, spending the rest of the episode on personal revelations in the present. That nostalgia was all through Ryan, his trip through the Cohen household for the first time intercut with his last. However, perhaps most importantly, the use of Marissa’s character was incredibly well handled. The locket with her picture was subtle, not overbearing, and her appearance in Ryan’s memory was brief, poignant. While I believe that her death was positive for the show, her importance to its narrative can’t be ignored.

So, a toast to Josh Schwartz and company for a job well done. You’ve left these characters in an existence where they seem happy, fulfilled. Yeah, Seth didn’t really get a real purpose and some things came together all too easily, but it was fulfilling. Much like Alias, which may not have ended perfectly but left its characters in the right place, so too has Ryan and the Cohens and everyone else found their happy place in TV Heaven. Things will never be the same for hoodie-wearing young offenders of future generations.

American Idol – Top 24 Results

Did anyone else find this to be one of the most awkward results shows in the show’s history? The first person is standing alone at the end of the stage and is told, point blank, that he’s going home, even before Ryan reads the judges’ comments. The second person is picked at random out of the lower line and unceremoniously told she’s going home. There is no time to collect her thoughts, no time to truly deal with the reality that her dreams are over. The second set of eliminations weren’t nearly as frustrating, and we got a video package for all of them at the end, but it still came off as more awkward than it needed to be. (Although that was quite the incestual choice of Chris Daughtry’s “Home” as the song played for the eliminated contestants (Paul, Nicole, Amy, Rudy).

The actual selections aren’t really all that surprising, as boring always loses out to crappy at this stage of the competition. Antonella and Sundance, arguably some of the worst on either side, both had substantial coverage in the earlier auditions; they might have sucked, but they were people that could build fanbases and the like.

The episode itself moved almost too quickly, which is always surprising considering its length. With four eliminations, a special performance from The Colour Purple by Fantasia (She seems well suited to the material, I’d say), the return of the Group Sing (Which wasn’t half bad) and gratuitous recaps, things moved quite briskly. I have to wonder, however, whether or not something a bit slower paced and, dare I say, respectful might be perhaps more entertaining in the end.

Grey’s Anatomy – Some Kind of Miracle

Shonda Rhimes may not be the best writer working in television right now, but she is fantastic at scripting and organizing these event episodes. The same sensibilities which made the two-episode Super Bowl arc last season work so well were in place here; it made for television which changed its characters, had great relevance to the show’s overall themes, and extending the show’s mythology that much further. Continue reading

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Filed under American Idol, Grey's Anatomy, Television, The O.C., The Office

Obituary: The O.C. (2003-2007)

Orange County or “The O.C.” – With great sorrow we announce the passing of Orange County, affectionately known as “The O.C.” on February 22nd. After living a long life of four television seasons, it will pass away in a flourish this evening at 9pm EST, 10pm CST. Check your local listings. Please. We need you to watch.

It was brought into the world on August 5th, 2003, and millions of bitches were welcomed to Orange County with juvenile delinquents, drug laced parties and alcohol infused fighting. We were introduced to the life of Ryan Atwood, a young offender brought into the home of Sandy and Kirsten Cohen. We met the Cohen’s son, Seth, and the Cohen family’s neighbour Marissa Cooper. There was Summer, Luke, Julie, and the whole O.C. crew.

Dubbed the next 90210, it grew in success over that summer and became a runaway hit. Fans yearned to see Ryan and Marissa come together, for Seth and Summer to come together, for Julie to sex up her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, for Sandy and Kirsten to find happiness amongst their own problems. Over its four seasons, there were many trials and tribulations, but through it all the drama reigned supreme. Continue reading

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