Apparently when the bell tolled for Marissa Cooper, it also spelled curtains for the entire O.C. After ordering up an abbreviated season of what was once TV’s
hottest prime-time teen drama (Beverly Hills, 90210 with even more
beach time, if you will), Fox announced Wednesday that it has
officially deep-sixed The O.C. The finale will air Feb. 22 after a
non-stop run of new episodes starting Thursday. “The O.C. season four finale will also be the series finale.
This feels like the best time to bring the show to its close,” O.C.
creator and executive producer Josh Schwartz said in a statement.
“Thanks to the hard work of our cast, crew and writers we have enjoyed
our best season yet, and what better time to go out than creatively on
At least the gang got to spend one more Chrismukkah together.
When the soapy series premiered in August 2003, 8.4 million
people enjoyed its initial seven-week run, and the conclusion of the
first season, which ran from Oct. 29, 2003 to May 5, 2004, attracted a
9.7 million-strong audience. In turn, Mischa Barton, Rachel Bilson, Ben
McKenzie and Adam Brody became fodder for People and Us Weekly. Alas, the ratings have been steadily sinking ever since,
despite the popularity of the show’s main actors; the hot new musical
artists that have received career-boosting airtime, starting with
Phantom Planet, the band responsible for the anthemic theme song
“California”; and the rise of reality spinoffs based on The O.C.‘s
glam-lifestyle premise, such as MTV’s Laguna Beach: The “Real” Orange
County and Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Orange County. Fox moved The O.C. to Thursdays at 9 p.m. for its second
season, where it improved the network’s overall performance in that
time slot but lost more than 2 million viewers. Season three saw those numbers drop to 5.6 million, despite
a Mar. 9 episode that attracted 7.4 million. Impressive, until you see
that it lost 72 percent of its American Idol lead-in.
Last, and definitely least, this season has pulled in a
dismal 4.1 million viewers on Thursdays, where it’s up against the
two-headed CSI–Grey’s Anatomy monster. A valiant attempt to test the
Wednesday waters was a failure, as well, with a brand-new episode
scoring a measly 3.5 million on Nov. 8. “It has been an amazing experience and a great run,”
Schwartz said. “For a certain audience, at a certain time, The O.C. has
meant something. For that we are grateful.” And despite the fact that it hasn’t meant as much to as many
for some time now, The O.C. certainly had its day, and obviously the
285,479 fans who lent their signature to Fox’s online Save The O.C.
petition are not ready to say goodnight. Those O.C. hopeful can turn their heads to blogs like the CW
Source, which is reporting the rumor, fanned by TV Guide columnist
Michael Ausiello, that The O.C. could pull a Buffy and end up on
another network next season, although likely without its most prominent
Opinions on a possible move to the CW seem to be ranging from the “yes, good idea” variety to “bring it on, pu-leeese!”
“A well-promoted move to the CW would definitely gain back a
lot of the old O.C. fans, especially since I’m sure many of them will
have heard about how much better season 4 is but have gotten too into Grey’s to go back to the O.C.,” read a posting from Nate on CW Source. Then there was Nick Baxter, who wrote, “I’m a huge fan of The O.C. and it fits perfect with the Big Green. One Tree Hill and The
O.C. on the same network will bring down the house!” Reality was the name of the game on other sites, however,
with various pragmatists squashing the idea of a fifth-season comeback.
“Is anyone else sitting at their comp crying over The O.C. being canceled?” wrote the OCer on Fox’s O.C. message board.
Don’t worry, OCer, you’re not alone.
“As lame…as this sounds,” commiserated KikiSandy2 in response to the
OCer’s posting, “when I was reading the article I started crying. Like
you I am so emotionally attached to this show and obsessed with it I am
going to be extremely depressed when this is over…I’m going to miss
seeing the cast’s faces every Thursday or the extremely funny banter,
the sarcasm, the dirty propositions, the lying, cheating, stealing,
sex, drama.” The O.C. also spawned six soundtrack albums, including Have a
Very Merry Chrismukkah and Covering Our Tracks, which just dropped in
December, featuring all indie acts, such as Band of Horses, Lady
Sovereign and Mates of State.
Brand new music from Coldplay, U2, Beastie Boys, Gwen Stefani and
Imogen Heap has had its debut on The O.C., and artists who have put in
face time by the shores of Los Angeles’ sunnier, ritzier cousin include
the Killers, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie and T.I.
The series was responsible for 7 Days in Memphis, the debut
solo album from Peter Gallagher (hip, concerned dad Sandy Cohen). The
collection, released in 2005, featured his cover of Solomon Burke’s
“Don’t Give Up On Me”–”as seen on The O.C.,” of course.
For the show’s 20-something stars, at least, The O.C. was probably just the beginning of the rest of their careers.
Mischa Barton, who got a head start on moving on when Marissa was
killed off at the end of season three, won the 2006 Teen Choice Award for Choice Actress and has at least four movies in the pipeline,
including the upcoming period romance Closing the Ring, costarring
Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer.
In addition to her Summer O.C. duties this year, Rachel Bilson starred
in The Last Kiss with Zach Braff and is filming the Doug Liman-directed
sci-fi adventure Jumper alongside Hayden Christiansen and Samuel L.
Adam Brody, who showed up in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and took a memorable
turn in Thank You for Smoking last year, will be back on the big screen
in ’07 in the romantic dramedy In the Land of Women after spending one
more month as privileged heartthrob Seth Cohen.
And Ben McKenzie, aka The O.C.‘s loveable rogue Ryan Atwood, starred in
the acclaimed indie film Junebug in 2005 and is up next in the thriller 88 Minutes, costarring Al Pacino, Leelee Sobieski and Alicia Witt.