The popular and steamy Orange County-based drama that stars Benjamin McKenzie, Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody begins its fourth season on November 2, 2006. Fans of the Fox’s The O.C.can expect to see a significant shift in the storylines now that the hot characters have left high school and one of them (Marissa played by Mischa Barton) has died.
Though the show has been a staple of Fox’s Thursday night schedule, the drama has been drawing far less interest and has garnered an average of a small 5.6 million viewers. The competition for viewers on that night is also expected to get far tougher. Between ABC’s popular Grey’s Anatomy, CBS juggernaut C.S.I., and NBC’s guilty-pleasure Deal or No Deal, it’s expected that The O.C. could have a really tough time holding onto its audience.
For its part, the network seems to be hedging its bets by only ordering 16 episodes for the fourth season. Because of a desire to run as few reruns of the drama as possible, the last episodes of the season could air by early 2007.
A Fox network exec has indicated that they’re keeping their options open. Fox has a number of other dramas in development to take The O.C.’s place on the schedule or is open to ordering additional episodes should the ratings warrant that. He also said that he believes creator Josh Schwartz and the members of the show’s creative team have lots more hot and steamy stories to tell.