TV Article

The Hard-Knock Life

On ''The O.C.,'' the big adoption party poops out because of Lindsay and Caleb's father issues; plus, Marissa seems a little less curious

DADDY MOREBUCKS Caleb decided he wanted a paternity test
Image credit: Alan Dale: Art Streiber/FOX
DADDY MOREBUCKS Caleb decided he wanted a paternity test

''The O.C.'': Lindsay and Caleb's father issues

Tonight's episode followed the typical O.C. arc: drama, drama, drama, useless party at the Cohens', drama. Some major things happened — Seth's stubble! — but the hour in general was a little flat. When Lindsbree told Ryan that tonight was one of the most important nights of her life, I had to pause and reflect for a moment because I couldn't remember why (and also because I was low on snacks). Either her character and story line just aren't compelling (at least compared with my snacks), or there was way too much else going on with all the others. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say both.

The Caleb-Renee-Lindsbree love-child mess flared up again tonight. It might just be me, but I was really feeling an Orphan Annie-Daddy Warbucks vibe going on during those awkward father-daughter scenes: Supporting this feeling are Little Orphan Lindsbree's (LOL) orange hair and ugly red dress, as well as Caleb's boatloads of money and tendency to shout for no reason while speaking. And Renee could be Miss Hannigan, sans the humor and personality. I kept wondering when Caleb was going to give LOL a Tiffany's heart locket to cover up that pearl-like atrocity around her neck. She could pull a Little Orphan Annie and refuse it and be all ''My real parents died in a fire!'' (I really need to stop watching Annie every time it comes on cable.)

Julie wasn't making it easy for LOL and her mom, but she did at least make the Boring Redheads scenes more tolerable. I loved how, after merely being her bitchy self to Lindsbree and Renee at their door, she felt compelled to whirl around and twitter, ''What a cute little house!'' I don't know what it is about Julie, but the nastier she gets, the more I like her. Maybe it's because she can't even be taken seriously as a human being anymore. Even Caleb snarled at her as if she were almost a pretend nuisance: ''What is it, Julie?'' I think I actually laughed the hardest then. He knew that whatever she said would be supremely annoying, but I knew it was simply going to be good.

Side note: Did anyone else catch the two lines that could mean a lot more than they seemed to? Caleb told Kirsten and LOL, ''Julie and I are finished,'' and Sandy said to Caleb, ''Ask yourself if you love the girl. If you do, nothing else matters.'' I got a chill right there. Who was he really talking about? Does he love Rebloat, or is he just briefly intrigued by ''what could have been'' now that she's back? Next week's preview left that answer pretty vague, but not vague enough to stop me from throwing a pillow at the screen. I misfired, and it ended up shutting off my cable box and speakers. Ooh, significance! Or perhaps just evidence that I'm a moron.

At least I'm in good company, as my new antihero Sandy also acted like a moron this whole episode. I have trouble reconciling how the feds are actively pursuing Rebloat and yet she and Sandy can have leisurely coffee breaks and creepy makeshift funerals around the harbor. I almost expected a Big Lebowski (or Desperate Housewives, for that matter) cremains-in-the-face scene after that slow-mo Professor Bloom ash action. Sandman, indeed. Sandy spent the rest of the ep wandering around trying to unload some Chinese takeout (I wonder if it was the same bag?), first on Rebloat, then on Ryan and Seth, the pair whom one loyal reader has dubbed Coatwood. I like that.

Speaking of Coatwood, the inseparable (at least every morning during breakfast) duo dealt in some slight sketchiness when Seth finished talking about unrequited love and then gestured pleadingly to Ryan, saying, ''My blood, your hands.'' What? Perhaps Seth was just delirious from his not sleeping, eating, or bathing for days, but it was almost like he expected Ryan to understand something greater about his scary words. I'll leave it at that. Marissa and Summer shared an equally awkward moment when, after Marissa semi-''came out'' to Summer, they hugged, whereupon Summer asked, ''This isn't turning you on, right?'' Booooo. Unnecessary. The scene was unremarkable, but that makes more sense because it seems unlikely Marissa will do more than dabble in her new hobby.

We might have expected to see some dabbling when Marissa went announced to Alex's apartment. But when Alex opened the door, we saw she was playing hostess to half a dozen ladies draped over each other and glaring at Marissa. My viewing buddy Laura proclaimed, ''Hello, glamour dykes!'' (and she would know). Ha. I thought Marissa knew better than to try new things while sober. She stood helplessly in the doorway, performing something close to the robot dance while stuttering. (It actually wasn't a stretch for her.) The bi-curious-in-training recuperated by reading a history of punk (Alex is . . . punk?) called Please Kill Me. Um, I'd like to. Later, I think Marissalex made up, but I'm not sure if anyone noticed because Mischa Barton seemed to have suddenly sprouted a double-D chest. Maybe it was an optical illusion, because her sweater was only nipple length.

Once again, I either forgot to talk about Seth or have subconsciously saved him for last. (Again, on the limb: both.) The whole S squared + Z dilemma is getting pretty tiresome: I don't see why the show keeps treating the ''King Seth loves Queen Summer and she loves him but neither of them will say so because human pawn Zach is blocking the squares!'' plot as breaking news. Tonight marked at least the fourth time this season that Seth slowly walked out of Summer's bedroom and I (and she, fo' real) silently begged him to turn around, come back inside, and do something delightfully Cohen-y. Instead, he asked for a postcard from the trip Summer and the Virgin Zachary are taking to Tuscany (''to have sex,'' according to Seth). I loved the way he signified sex by weakly knocking his cheeseburger and small cola together in a famished, unshowered stupor. Mmm . . . sex.

After the big news that the queen and the pawn weren't doin' it yet, Seth raced home to watch Best Week Ever. It wasn't really the best week ever for The O.C., but after last week's two scandalous kisses, the show deserved a break. We'll let it slide this time. But seriously. S squared. Make it happen.

What do you think? Are they preparing to write Lindsbree out of the show because she's boring? Can Ryan pull off flannel shirts? And will anything serious go down between Sandy and Rebloat?

Originally posted Feb 18, 2005