Let the healing begin.
Allow me to tell you a story: It's a simple tale of girl meets TV show. Girl falls in love with TV show. Girl feels betrayed by TV show. Girl forgives TV show and decides to give show another chance.
Once upon a time there was a TV Gal and she loved "Beverly Hills, 90210" very, very much. After the show ended its 10 year run, a darkness fell over the TV landscape.
Nothing could fill the void that "90210" left. The Beek and his Creek and Felicity and her hair issues did little to comfort her. And then over the summer of 2003 she received a show called "The O.C." in the mail (it was the same summer that brought her "Arrested Development," so it was a very good year) and all was right with the world.
"The O.C." was like "90210" except the show was in on the joke. Let's reflect on some excerpts from my original review -- "This is can't miss, set your VCR, program your TiVo, don't leave your house just in case they both fail television ... Who cares if it's something we've seen before if we are loving seeing it again? Television cliches work if you care about the characters and are invested in the drama ... I want 'The O.C.' to become a colossal hit. I want the names Adam Brody, Benjamin McKenzie and Mischa Barton to become household names."
And, you know what, that happened. But be careful what you wish for because a funny thing happened along the way to becoming a pop culture phenomenon. Sometimes it's hard to live up to your own hype and even harder to plot out a show where there are no crimes to solve, patients to save or Others to fight.
So I was tough on "The O.C." because, well, it hurt a little more when the show's quality declined. I eventually gave the show the silent treatment because it began to seem cruel to continually kick the show while it was down. But now, as I said, let the healing begin.
"The O.C." returns for its fourth season Thursday at 9 p.m. on FOX and after watching the first four episodes, I'm positively delighted to tell you it returns in a much improved state. Now I want to manage your expectations -- it's not back to its season one glory -- but that seems like an impossible feat, don't you think? It may never be must-see TV again, but it's definitely must-like TV again. "The O.C." faces both "Grey's Anatomy" and "CSI" so I think that's punishment enough, don't you?
Why is "The O.C." better this season?
Chris Pratt: Simply put, Pratt is one of the most underrated actors on TV today. As Summer's new college friend Che, Pratt brings much needed comic relief and his performance is a complete departure that what we've seen him play before. We already know he can bring more to a character than what is on the page -- that's why he was so great as Bright on "Everwood." I can't wait to see what he does next.
The Death of Marissa: We can't blame Mischa Barton for the decline of the show. Marissa became such a tragic character that death was the only way to save her from herself. It's time for us and the show to move on, which it does after the appropriate mourning period. Summer's healing process is simultaneously amusing and poignant.
Seth Is Back, Baby: We all know I loved Seth Cohen -- I even had an entire section labeled "Seth Cohen Quote of the Week." But then it became like Adam Brody and the writers were too aware of how cute he was -- every line seemed to be punctuated with an "aren't I adorable?" nod to the audience. That self-awareness took away from Seth's charm. But now the original Seth is back, kicking it old school style.
Autumn Reeser as Taylor Townsend: Like she did with the rest of the gang, Taylor has kind of grown on me. Plus, the show seems to have an interesting romance in store for her.
After you watch "The O.C.," we must discuss. So let me know what you think.
Where Have I Seen Them Before?
Oh Feeeliiicity, we were all thrilled to see Ian Gomez, as the man Sawyer used to con his way out of prison on "Lost." Gomez was Larry on "The Drew Carey Show" and Javier on "Felicity." Mary and Joe recognized Bill Duke, Amos Andrews on "Karen Sisco" and Capt. Bob Parrish on "Fastlane," was the warden.
Michelle was the first to recognized Bryan Cranston, Malcolm's dad in "Malcolm in the Middle," as Ted's boss on "How I Met Your Mother." Mark was thrilled to see Charlie Robinson, Mac on "Night Court," as the CEO of the bank who picked Ted's design.
Damian was the first to catch Mae Whitman as Julie's friend who hooked up with Austin on "Desperate Housewives." Whitman was Tammi on "Thief," Emma on "State of Grace," and, of course, oh what was her name again, Ann on "Arrested Development."
Jodie recognized Larry Hankin, Mr. Heckles on "Friends," was Tom, the senior citizen Larry kicked out of his band on "My Name Is Earl." Beth Grant was Ralph's mom. She's currently Gracie on "Jericho."
Keri Lynn Pratt, Missy on "Jack & Bobby" and who we just saw as Halley on "Veronica Mars," was the new intern on "Brothers & Sisters."
Quotes of the Week
"Those shoes are definitely bi-curious." Jack to Liz on "30 Rock." Thanks to Johnna and Will for the quote.
"Who am I disturbing? This is a coma ward. Don't you want them to wake up?" Susan on "Desperate Housewives." Thanks to Mike and Eric for the quote.
"I could read you like a comic book, Kevin Walker: two pages at a time." Scotty to Kevin on "Brothers & Sisters."
"Live together, die alone." Kate to Sawyer on "Lost."
"Hi. I don't have an appointment. Do you remember me by any chance?" Harmony (Laura San Giacomo) to Keith on "Veronica Mars." Thanks to everyone who submitted the most popular quote of the week.
Best News of the Week
Highlights of the Week Ahead
All times listed are Eastern Standard Time for Oct. 29 to Nov. 5
I regret to inform you that it appears that "The Class" (Monday, CBS, 8:30 p.m.) has become this season's "Freddie," a bad comedy that I can't stop watching. But I have to ask how long do you think show runners are going to find the whole "Lena in a wheelchair" funny because I'm thinking it's time to move on.
The season finale of "Weeds" (Monday at 10 p.m. on Showtime) is a gasp-out-loud jaw dropper. I'm not going to say anything because I don't want to spoil any of the twists and turns. But I do need to give special commendation to Martin Donovan, who has so convincingly gone from sexy to menacing this season. If I were going to go on some dark twisted bender, I definitely run away with him.
Don't look for "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" Monday night (it was scheduled to be a rerun anyway. "Friday Night Lights" gets a special airing in the Monday night time slot at 10 p.m. on NBC. But I have heard that NBC ordered more scripts for "Studio 60" so keep hope alive.
Callie Thorne, the crazy Sheila on "Rescue Me" and the equally crazy Jodie last season on "ER," begins her stint as Pamela, Special Agent Alexander Mahone's wife on "Prison Break" Monday at 8 p.m. on FOX.
If you've seen the cover of this week's TV Guide, you know where the Christopher and Lorelai relationship is headed on "Gilmore Girls" (Tuesday, CW, 8 p.m.). Hold my hand, it's going to be okay.
Does anyone else think the rapist on "Veronica Mars" (Tuesday, CW, 9 p.m.) could be a woman?
Mariska Hargitay returns to "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" Tuesday at 10 p.m. on NBC.
I'm getting totally stressed out that we only have two more episodes of "Lost" before the series goes on its long winter's nap. It won't be back until February after Taye Diggs' "Daybreak" has its run. While I applaud the non-repeat scheduling of "Lost," I still don't think it's a good idea to have months between episodes. This week we learn more about Mr. Eko.
November sweeps begins Thursday, so let the guest stars appearances begin. Roseanne Barr (yup, her last name is back) guest stars as the manager of Joy's trailer park on "My Name Is Earl" Thursday at 8 p.m. on NBC.
Derek's sister visits Seattle Grace Hospital on "Grey's Anatomy" Thursday at 9 p.m. on ABC.
So this is the episode of "Desperate Housewives" (Sunday, ABC, 9 p.m.) where a character who we know dies. I'm thinking it might be Mrs. McCluskey who meets her maker. It was a little strange that we saw her hanging out with the ladies a couple of weeks ago and she's the only non-opening credits character who I think we would miss.
Good news. We haven't seen the last of Treat Williams on "Brothers & Sisters" (Sunday, ABC, 10 p.m.). He returns as David the contractor. Let's hope Williams appearance is the first of many former residents of "Everwood" popping up on the show.
That's all for today. I will be back next week to check in on how all the new shows are doing including the hits of the season "Jericho" and "Heroes." Have a question, seen a familiar face, have an inside scoop or want to nominate a quote of the week? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.