Season 2, Episode 8

The secret in The O.C. secret sauce is out. Tonight, finally, after having viewed all 35 episodes, with the exception of that one I missed, I have figured out why this is the best teen soaper of all time—past, present and into infinity and beyond. The deal is that no matter how funny Seth is (like tonight, when he's standing in the kitchen for a beat, waiting for Ryan's reaction to being dressed down by their pissed-off dad Sandy, before suddenly realizing he's the one in trouble . . . for a change), how amoral Julie Cooper is (she's even creeping out her ultimate creep of a husband Caleb these days) and how beautiful the Santa Monica Pier looks on screen (Newport Beach wishes its piers were as bitchen as these stand ins; no wonder city officials are always running off the immigrant fishermen), The O.C. manages, without fail, to always fall back on tired, old, ridiculous soap-opera clichs. And so tonight, we are "treated" to Sandy (once-proud American actor Peter Gallagher) singing on stage. It's not merely that he was bad—he actually wasn't that bad, if that was even his voice, in a San Bernardino Civic Light Opera production of The Music Man kind of way—it's that it is so utterly stupid, so untrue to real life, so been-done-a-million-times-before-on-daytime soaps. Or maybe you know a serious, respected lawyer in Newport who would gather a bunch of friends in a teen nightclub so he could sing to his wife on their 20th wedding anniversary. For her part, the wife, Kirsten, played by Kelly Rowan, was so convincing looking embarrassed by it all you had to wonder if she was even acting. Indeed, you could almost make out the conversation in Rowan's head where she's on the horn with her agent demanding, "Get me out, get me out of here, GET ME OFF THIS GODDAMN SHOW!!!"

SLIGHTLY OFF LOCAL REFERENCES OF THE WEEK: The only thing worse than Gallagher singing was his pronunciation of Laguna. Down here, it's luh-goon-uh. Sandy says lag-yew-nuh. The reason Laguna Beach came up at all was because Sandy was trying to whisk Kirsten away to a weekend at the Montage, for which he informed her he'd filled up his car's gas tank. Now, I know that you Nouveau Riche-ers just love your environmentally destructive SUVs, but I think even the Hummeriest of Hummers could make the 7.12-mile trip between Newport Coast and the Montage on a quarter tank—and still have enough fuel to get back home, even figuring in a stop at the date-shake shack.

OKAY, WE'RE BORED WITH IT LOCAL REFERENCES OF THE WEEK: Riviera. We get it: either someone at the mag is blowing all the producers, or Fox is a silent partner in the glossy. But, Christ, wouldn't Julie Cooper at least want to spread the coverage of her family around to Coast and Orange Coast magazines, too? And we still got to ask: There are really couples under age 70 dining at The Arches?

LINE OF THE WEEK: "Bill O'Reilly's on. That's punishment enough." Sandy explaining to Kirsten why they should let their boys, who are grounded, come out of their rooms and watch TV with them.


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