Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The OC

British youth soap opera/teen-drama. Just doesn’t cut it, does it? As if. Hollyoaks. Bunch of fucking crap. Why waste your time watching it?

No, if you want to while your hours away watching twenty-somethings playing teenagers, be it television or cinema, you have to turn to America. It seems that they’re just so much better at than we are. The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, Bring It On, American Pie (but only the first film, let’s put the kibosh on the sequels), My So Called Life, Buffy, the list just goes on. But – and it’s quite a big but – that list most definitely doesn’t include Dawson’s pissing Creek.

No, I don’t care who you are; it’s not worth trying to start this debate with me. You can’t win, so I won’t even bother listening to what you saying. Blah blah blah, like, whatever.

That’s not enough? You want reasons? Overly sentimental, unbearably saccharine sweet and twee, drawn-out long past its sell by date, smug as fuck plot lines, and I don’t fancy Katie Holmes. Sorry.

But of course, we also have to take into account the James van der Beek factor.

Mr van der Beek, please approach the bench. I present you with exhibit A, the lower half of your face. How do you plead? Guilty? Too fucking right you’re guilty.

Ok, so I had no problem with James van der Beek in ‘Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back’ or ‘The Rules Of Attraction’, but as far as Dawson goes, you’re having a fackin' laugh, guv’nor. Foolishly sensitive film geek fucks up his love life and loses his girlfriend to the US version Toady from Neighbours. Get over it. Move on. Look, she has. She’s screwing your best mate.

If I wanted hear about the trials and tribulations of being a movie addict trying to get by in the real world, I’d have a chat with New Noise’s very own Eddie Robson. I used to work with him. He’s a nice chap, once you get over his remarkable resemblance to Muse’s Matt Bellamy. And he’s got a book out about the films of the Cohen Brothers, which is more than you can say for Mr Chin.

Anyway, I’ve digressed enough. If you’re after non-patronising teen-drama, with geek-chic skateboard kids, hard-drinking beauties, philandering parents, a bitch queen royale, and a bloke that once died of a heart attack in Neighbours, all based around a reworking of the classic Pygmalion story, then there’s only one place for you to turn. And that’s Orange County, California, baby.

Yeh, you got it. Welcome to the OC.

We’re supposed to pretend that the series is all about Ryan. The Chino boy who was saved from himself just about in time to stop from him turning bad, but who’s still rough enough to punch out anyone that looks at him funny, burn down a house owned by his recently adopted mother’s business, and shag his newly acquired grandfather’s girlfriend in front of the girl he really wants. The perfect post-American Dream rebel with a cause. Like Jack Kerouac raised as trailer trash, but denied the opportunity to place his mother on a pedestal, left with no choice but to lash out at his tormentors.

But really, we know that he’s little more than a plot device. He’s only there so that situations can evolve around him. He’s a catalyst for change, a fulcrum rather than a focal point, and an excuse for a regular ruckus.

No, all the real fun is going on around Ryan. First off there’s Summer. The tart with a heart, only she keeps her heart well hidden behind a wall of vicious put-downs, scything glances and mini-skirts. She thinks she’s all that, and, truth be told, she probably is. Even if she isn’t I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell her. She’d probably have your balls off in an instant. Along with your bladder and lower intestine.

And there’s her verbal sparring partner, Seth Cohen. King geek extraordinaire, the Graham Coxon of US teen-drama. Let’s face it, he’s the kid that we’d all like to be. Good T-shirts, never falls off his skateboard, has hair that marks him out as being just that little bit different, and he’s willing to argue with the girl of his dreams when it comes to music.

And it that isn’t enough for you, he almost manages to pull off the perfect coup. Rolling around semi-naked with Summer in the pool house while he’s got another girl stashed away in his bedroom, playing with a toy horse.

Finally, we get to Marissa Cooper, the OC’s contender for the throne marked teen-drama goddess. A true challenger for the position previously held by Shannon Doherty and Eliza Dukshu. I’d marry her if we didn’t already share a surname.

Where do we start? She’s toying not only with alcoholism and drug abuse but also with Ryan’s heart. She tried to kill herself in a seedy Tijuana bar, is having to deal with watching her parents split up but also watching her mother chase Seth’s grandfather. Her ex-boyfriend is a jock twat who managed to sleep with half the female population of the OC without her knowing. Basically meaning that she gets flit between playing the nice girl next door one moment and fucked-up drug hoover the next. What more could you ask for from a leading lady?

OK, so that’s the kids sorted (well, all the important ones anyway), all you need know for a killer drama is a reasonably believable basic premise. Something along the lines of Ryan starting the series getting caught while trying to steal a car, or some other relatively minor act of juvenile delinquency. That should suffice.

Maybe then his mother and her abusive boyfriend do a runner while Ryan is in custody, leaving with nowhere to turn other than the kind-hearted community lawyer, Sandy, that was dealing with his case. Who then takes Ryan home to meet the wife and their seemingly socially-awkward son, Seth, who just happens to the same age as our lovably roguish Chino troublemaker. Sound good so far? Yeh? Good, then we’ll continue

Imagine for a moment that Ryan’s initiation into OC life doesn’t go so smoothly to start. He keeps getting into fights, usually with Marissa’s boyfriend. At the beach, in the diner, on the boardwalk; wherever Ryan goes, chances are he’ll be coming home with a shiner. And just to antagonise his new home life, each black eye invariably earns another black mark from Sandy’s immeasurably wealthy wife. But Seth doesn’t seem to be acting so introverted anymore, so maybe it’s all going to work out for the best. In fact, maybe they should adopt Ryan.

And once you’ve mixed that little lot together add a succession of parties, Ryan's and Marissa's on-off, should-we, shouldn’t-we, what about my boyfriend-sod him, he’s a lying cheating bastard anyway relationship and the gradual build up of sexual tension between Seth and Summer.

Then you’ve got the near-apocalyptic road trip to Tijuana which cumulates with Marissa knocking a bottle of pills down her gob, and the occasional sortie back into Chino – allowing for the use of grainier and less vividly-coloured film to further highlight the differences between the rich suburb and the scummy run-down poor area. But hey, at least Ryan’s growing up on the right side of the tracks now.

And there it is.. Everything you could possibly wish for from the perfect teen-drama. So next time bleak British teen-soaps are getting you down, just head on over to OC for some fun in the privileged sun because, as every easy-living, hard-partying California rich-kid knows, the future’s bright, the future’s Orange County.