Well, after months of speculation it appears that the word has come down from Fox regarding the future of The O.C. The news isn’t good but it might not be as bad as it seems.
The hip young drama The O.C. debuted on August 5, 2003 on FOX. Much like Beverly Hills, 90210 before it, the show became very popular among younger viewers during a summer debut. The series, set in Newport Beach in Orange County, California, told the story of a group of teens and parents in the Cohen, Cooper, and Nichol families whose lives were changed by the arrival of an outsider in their idyllic community.
The O.C. is frequently credited with popularizing several previously unknown bands and reviving the teen drama genre while including humorous and heartfelt adult storylines. The series currently stars actors Peter Gallagher, Kelly Rowan, Benjamin McKenzie, Adam Brody, Melinda Clarke, Rachel Bilson, Autumn Reeser, and Willa Holland.
There was concern by many that season four, which debuted on November 2, 2006, would be the show’s last. For one thing, fans were told to expect to see a significant shift in the storylines now that the hot teen characters have left high school. One of the main characters had also died at the end of season three (Marissa played by Mischa Barton). On top of that, the other networks were offering stiff Thursday night competition with powerhouses like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Grey’s Anatomy.
The O.C.’s fourth season premiere drew a small number of viewers, approximately a meager 2.5 million. This poor showing caused Fox to cancel The O.C.’s weaker lead-in shows immediately (the sitcom Happy Hour and the game show The Rich List) and to rework their troubled schedule — even airing The O.C. twice a week. Ultimately though, the show stayed on Thursday nights to fight it out and understandably the numbers didn’t improve very much. We now know that the battle is over. Or is it?
Fox has now issued a statement that The O.C. has been cancelled and that the series finale will air on Thursday, February 22nd. Original fourth season episodes will air each week prior to the finale. The series creator and executive producer Josh Schwartz said in a statement, “The O.C. Season Four finale will also be the series finale. This feels like the best time to bring the show to its close. Thanks to the hard work of our cast, crew and writers, we have enjoyed our best season yet, and what better time to go out than creatively on top. It has been an amazing experience and a great run. For a certain audience, at a certain time, The O.C. has meant something. For that we are grateful.”
In a note to TV critic Alan Sepinwell, Josh Schwartz explained that only a portion of his quote made it into the press release. The part that was cut said “There has been some speculation about a Season 5 on another network but this feels like the best time to bring the story to an end.” Josh went on to say, “I felt better to go out now with the run we’re having then try and move the show, etc. etc. and maybe not be able to deliver the same level of quality. Teen dramas have a shelf life. We’ve had a lot of parties on the show, and so I’ve learned, best not to stay too late.”
So that’s it. Or is it? There have been rumblings that the freshman CW network might be interested in picking up the series. Idol rumors? Maybe not.
The O.C. is produced by Wonderland Sound and Vision and College Hill Pictures in association with Warner Bros. Television Production. Warner Bros. co-owns the CW network. A minimum of 100 episodes are traditionally desired for a series to be sold in syndication (so that stations can run episodes every day without having to rerun them too quickly). At the end of the fourth season, The O.C. will have only 92 episodes. It may make better financial sense for Warner Bros. to continue producing the show for a fifth season, even if it’s only another short one.
In addition, head of the CW network Dawn Ostroff is said to be extremely interested in picking up the show for another season. The show is expensive to produce but perhaps the syndication money could offset the cost enough so that the CW network could afford it. Stranger things have happened when it comes to networks. After all, Seventh Heaven was pulled from the ashes and renewed for an 11th season last year. Could the same thing happen to The O.C.? What do you think? Worth saving? Take part in our poll (see above left). Time will tell so stay tuned!