One's natural reaction to The O.C.'s return (Thursday, Nov. 2 at 9 pm/ET) is to wonder, "Is that still on?" It's looking awfully creaky for a fourth-season show, as it picks up five months after May's tragic graduation finale. That's when golden-girl Marissa died, although some might say Mischa Barton had been playing dead for years.
Did you know one of the stages of grief was getting yourself beaten senseless in cage matches? That's how her beau Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) is moodily coping, just another excuse for him to throw punches in his T-shirt.
Meanwhile, her best friend Summer (Rachel Bilson) has shed her materialism as a Brown undergrad in Rhode Island, where she's busy with environmental protests. "I don't do sarcasm anymore. I'm post-ironic," she tells Seth (Adam Brody). Here's an inconvenient truth: She's not great company anymore, and neither's the show.