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End Times 

Wednesday, May 24 2006
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As a longtime, devoted fan of The OC and That ’70s Show, I was expecting major events last Thursday night: The OC was closing its fourth, weakest season by promising to kill off a main character. And That ’70s Show, which had maintained a happy, lovable irrelevance for at least a year or two, was finally ending — with rumors that at least one lead character would be returning for the finale.

Oh, my shows. My dear, not-very-good Thursday-night shows. The shows I enjoy above all other shows (except Idol, of course). My shows. It’s funny: On The OC, pot is the cause of accidents, moral decay and a general teen bonfire of the vanities. On That ’70s Show, pot is not only the root of all happiness, it is at the very core of the show’s soul — those in-the-round shots they do called “the circle,” where the characters smoke out and talk about nothing/everything. If only Seth on The OC could have visited That ’70s Show and bought some pot off those kids, or off the stoner dude played by Cheech Marin. The way I figure it, if Seth had been smoking the kind Wisconsin ’79 bud, this season would have gone differently for him — and, by the butterfly effect, for everyone on The OC. If Marissa had been smoking that sweet green with her bad boy instead of drinking, maybe those two would have chilled the fuck out a bit. Maybe he wouldn’t have cheated on her at the prom. Maybe she wouldn’t have wanted to leave Newport. And maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t have run her down in his van and killed her dead last Thursday night.

Speaking of which: I am a huge OC fan, so don’t get me wrong, but Marissa/Mischa Barton’s death scene must have been written and executed very poorly, because it did not elicit so much as a watery eye from me — while I was moaning softly just an hour earlier when That ’70s Show went off the air. (Nobody even died! Eric returned to Donna! Everyone was happy!) I was cosmologically, physiologically primed to shed buckets, folks. I mean, it was Crying Time. And .?.?. nothing.

My boyfriend nearly vomited when his favorite show, The Shield, sadistically killed off its noblest character during the season finale a couple months ago. I believe The OC’s creators feared such a viewer revolt, and turned the death of their main character into something so softened, so gutless and picturesque it didn’t feel real at all. Nobody, not even Mischa Barton, looks that good after an accident that bad.

Then again, you know, if she had to go, I guess I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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