Spoilers for "The O.C." just as soon as I put the new season of "The Valley" in my Netflix queue...
And the funny is back! Sure, it was back in small doses in episodes one through three, but you can only get so many yuks when your characters are tearing themselves apart to mourn the death of The Most Perfect Girl Ever. And with the shiva arc essentially over (Josh says she'll be a major topic come Chrismukkah), we get an hour of full-on, unbridled wackiness. I am happy.
Plenty o' highlights, from Summer and her rage issues going through the five stages of grief in record times (with a few replays of Anger, natch) to Naked Che to Taylor asking Ryan about his cage-fighting career.
I especially liked the Seth/Summer/Che non-triangle. And Josh has said, for the record, that Che "is not a romantic foil" for the other two, which is smart, because they've played that card so many times already that it's become yet another meta topic. (Hence Ryan's "No one believes that" when Seth worries that Summer's going to dump him.) There are interesting things the writers can do with these two without the constant break-ups and make-ups, and I like seeing them disconnected (by distance, by her new friends, and by Marissa's death) without automatic doom and gloom on the horizon. Plus, Chris Pratt is damn funny. I look forward to him getting a good role come pilot season.
The inevitable pairing of Ryan and Taylor could seem a little lazy -- "Let's put him together with our only available, age-appropriate female regular!" -- but I'm in favor of it for two reasons. First, Taylor is, in fact, awesome, and any storyline that's going to give her more face time is more than welcome. Second, I like stories that allow Ben McKenzie to crack a smile, and it would be a nice change of pace, if nothing else, for Ryan to be involved with a woman who isn't in constant need of rescuing -- or, at least, whose rescues can be of the silly variety.
Sandy's bro-mance with Jason Spitz (played by the ubiquitous Jose Zuniga, and if anyone can go read his blog post on the subject and come up with the suitable formula, you'd make him a relatively non-unhappy man) felt a little filler-y (it also, as Fienberg points out in yet another Zuniga-related blog post, not as good as the recent "HIMYM" bro-mance subplot). I'd much rather see this than Sandy and Kirsten deal with infidelity, substance abuse, and all the other sturm und drang of seasons two and three, but coming up with interesting storylines for either or both of them has become increasingly difficult, and I think we're a sweeps period away from them moving to the Far East to hang with Jim and Cindy Walsh.
Still, these first four episodes have gotten so much else right that I can abide a few adrift characters. It's a damn shame five people are watching, but between the bad memories of last season and Fox's complete apathy towards promoting the show, what did we expect? Now the only hope is that they get to stay on the air for all sixteen episodes. Four down, twelve to go.
What did everybody else think? And, seriously, go help Fienberg out on that first link. He put a lot of work into it.