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'The O.C.' nostalgia recap: It's a jailbreak

Season 1 | Episode 2 | “The Rescue” | Aired Oct 29, 2003

The O.C. went into a short hiatus after the OTFoursome’s fateful Tijuana trip. This left viewers several weeks to ruminate on how likely it was that the show would kill off a central cast member and the PR machine’s chosen It Girl after just seven episodes. (Not very.)

Marissa Cooper is still very much alive, but so are her problems. Her estranged parents are bickering over her suicide attempt like they bickered over credit cards and hairless ponies. Jimmy gains no brownie points with Julie when he calls the Cohens—who are so upset that they can’t even enjoy their bagels—to update them on Marissa’s status. She’s asleep when they arrive. And either Julie doesn’t notice the deep concern that settles on Ryan’s face when he sinks into the chair by her daughter’s hospital bed … or she just doesn’t care. She follows him out into the hallway. “Since you’ve shown up, Marissa’s been a wreck,” she says. “You’ve almost killed my daughter.” She forbids them from seeing each other. I read a play like this once and almost everybody died.

Julie spends this episode tossing blame around like confetti, making sure that none of it lands on her. Marissa’s restlessness is Ryan’s fault because he had the misfortune to be born in Chino. It’s Jimmy’s fault because he embarrassed Julie. It’s the Cohens’ fault because their kids are so well-adjusted in comparison. To Julie, the best defense is a good offense. She strikes out constantly, to keep her own insecurities at bay.

Ironically, it’s Ryan who gets Julie Cooper the most. She’s afraid of losing this lifestyle. Because deep under her stripey highlights, she doesn’t believe she’s good enough. That’s Ryan’s story too. But he’s more of the suffer-in-silence type—except when challenged. After the hospital, Kirsten and Ryan meet with Dr. Kim, the Harbor School’s formidable headmistress. It’s clear that she prides herself on being tough but fair (10 bucks she has a poster of Minerva McGonagall on her wall), but they both challenge her on her politely worded prejudices. (“My background? I can’t change where I’m from, but I can change where I’m going.”) Without losing an ounce of her chill, Dr. Kim backtracks from her refusal to let Ryan into Newport’s most prestigious prep school. He’ll sit for an aptitude test; those scores will be the judge.

Determined, Ryan sets about a rigorous cram session. But he’s interrupted, and not just by Seth’s incessant chattering about Summer. Marissa calls—she overheard Julie warning Jimmy that she would be seeking sole custody. “She’s upset,” Ryan says to Seth, and that’s all the reason Ryan needs to abandon his studies. He brings Marissa a single sunflower in a simple vase. It’s all the gift shop had left, but it’s also very him: all substance, no flash. When Julie arrives, Ryan hides in a closet.

Julie’s plan is to send Marissa away to a “recovery center” in San Diego that very day. “I would rather have you hate me now than risk losing you again,” she says. Julie does deserve some credit for being the only person in her daughter’s life who believes that a borderline suicidal teenager could use help. But she doesn’t include Marissa in charting the course of her own treatment. The only solution? A jailbreak. Naturally.

Meanwhile, Seth and Summer are trying to reconcile their newfound intimacy with the social status quo. They went through something together—something that Summer knows won’t be discussed over carrot sticks and Perrier at the cheerleader table. But she’s still not ready to upend her reputation by being seen at, say, an IMAX shark movie with Seth Cohen. For as long as Marissa is in trouble, though, these two will have reason to join forces. When she finds out about Julie’s plan, Summer goes to Seth’s bedroom to do some recruiting. “I need to get radical,” she says. “I need Ryan.” That’s true, but she needs Seth too. They’re a team—against unfair parents, against the world.

This is where The O.C.‘s inner ’80s teen comedy takes over. Seth and Summer barge into the room where Ryan takes the test that’ll determine his future. There’s no time to explain what’s happening to Dr. Kim. (Did Anthony Michael Hall ever have any time? Did John Cusack?) They rush to the hospital, where Summer plans on fully exploiting her candy striper privileges. (Seth: “I should be hospitalized more often.” Summer: “Well, if you need any help.”) They’re almost busted when Luke shows up with F.T.D.’s “Sorry I Made You Want to Die” bouquet, but he sees Marissa’s desperation. “Take the stairs.” Stay complicated, Luke Ward.

When Jimmy gets back to his sad, single-dad apartment, the kids are there. Seth, Ryan, and Summer go wait in the car while Marissa makes a plea to her dad not to let her mom send her away. Julie calls, and again Jimmy throws away a chance to show a little backbone. He’s still trying to protect himself. As he tells Julie where Marissa is, she slips out. And then the teens do what anyone would do in this situation: eat their feelings, and seek out advice from Sandy Cohen.

Sandy is already pissing off his the partners at his new firm because he’s too intent on doing his job. Rachel is a little miffed too, but not so much that she’d skip giggling at his jokes over margaritas. Between the death glare that Kirsten gives Rachel when she tells her how “lucky” she is to have such a funny husband, and Sandy’s inexorable love of arguing in front of a courtroom, I’m not confident his corporate career will last. But at least it can help Marissa. “Well, if I’ve learned anything today, you don’t wanna go to court with this,” he says to Ryan. “You’re gonna wanna settle.” Sandy arranges the meeting. Ryan and Marissa make their arguments: Marissa will go to out-patient therapy; she’ll live with her dad. And Julie agrees to compromise. Sort of. Does “This isn’t over, Marissa” count as compromising?

While the drama plays out inside, Seth and Summer share a moment by the pool. Marissa and Ryan get most of the angst; Seth and Summer get closer through this nice little series of discoveries about each other. He fell in love with her when they were both kids, but Seth doesn’t really know Summer all that well now. For her part, Summer has done her best to ignore him completely. But now she knows that he’s got a toy horse named Captain Oats and that he’ll risk getting in trouble to save her friend. He knows that she’s read Madame Bovary five times and is maybe getting tired of being the queen bee. (“You’re a strange and mysterious woman, Summer.”) How this new chumminess will play out in school remains to be seen, but in private, Summer Roberts no longer has any problem bestowing a smile on Seth Cohen.

Back in the kitchen, Sandy urges a reluctant Ryan to explain matters to Dr. Kim, but he’s unsure about begging another chance. “You’re afraid of her,” Sandy says, incredulously. “You went toe-to-toe with Julie Cooper, the Dragon Lady. You can take Dr. Kim.” Ryan’s determination (and some Cohen donations, probably) pays off. He passes the test. Now, to live up to all that potential everyone keeps talking about. In a school with dozens of Lukes. No pressure.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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