After dissecting the pilot episode in the inaugural edition of Welcome Back to The OC, it’s time for us to slip into the comfortable pink tracksuit that will be our regular publication rhythm, taking in two episodes every month. This time, after the noticeably plot-light pilot, events start to heat up – quite literally in some cases…
While Alex’s first major solo project under the Tim+Alex banner concerns one of the fundamental pillars of modern pop culture, I’ve chosen something that, while perhaps not the opposite of that, is certainly diagonal from it. I’m going to be revisiting The OC, a teen drama that ran for four seasons about 15 years ago, and that is now primarily remembered for launching the career of the guy who plays Young Commissioner Gordon on Gotham and its insanely catchy theme song.
Why The OC? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself as I say down to begin this project. It’s a show I have fond memories of, certainly, but it wasn’t something that I watched religiously, certainly not past season one. The show is neither an underappreciated one season gem that was ignored at the time, nor a cultural behemoth that is still revered. It came, it kick-started the careers of some young actors, revived those of some older ones, and then it left after the appropriate amount of time. It’s not exactly crying out for a critical reappraisal. Yet here we are.
There aren’t many things in pop culture as huge as The Simpsons. In the sense of how dominant the show became as a cultural force, but also just the sheer amount of it that exists. 629 episodes as I write this, quite probably more by the time you read it.
It’s an impossible thing to hold in your head all at once, even if you have seen all of those episodes, but I reckon most people have a very specific idea of what the show is. The types of jokes, the structure of episodes, all the stuff that makes it The Simpsons.
Most people also have an idea of when it stops being, in any meaningful sense, that show. You’ll hear people talking about the Golden Years, and the darkness that has followed. No one quite agrees on the exact boundaries of this golden age, but the rough agreement seems to be seasons three to nine.
I’ve never been exactly clear on my own canon. It’s my favourite TV programme of all time – possibly my favourite thing of all time – but I’ve never watched the episodes in anything even approaching the correct order. I can reel off favourite jokes, episodes and characters, but I couldn’t pin down the era when the show feels most like The Simpsons to me.
Hence, this here project. I’m going to watch through all of the seasons in order, one a month, and report back. Starting here, now, with…