Fox Puts 'The O.C.' Out To Pasture

Above, Seth (Adam Brody) and Summer (Rachel Bilson) won't have much more work to do on the set of Fox's
Above, Seth (Adam Brody) and Summer (Rachel Bilson) won't have much more work to do on the set of Fox's "The O.C.," which is finally coming to an end. The big winner on Christmas night was "Deal or No Deal," left, whose more than 16 million viewers gave NBC its most watched Christmas prime time show since 1993. (By Darren Michaels -- Fox)

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By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, January 4, 2007

Fox started the new year right, announcing yesterday it was putting onetime sensation "The O.C." out of its misery next month. Peter Gallagher's eyebrows began looking for a new role, while inconsolable teenage girls contemplated the meaninglessness of life without Ryan and Seth on their blogs.

The teener soap that debuted in August '03 in an ecstasy of hyperventilation next month will be reunited with its too-dumb-to-live sweetheart Marissa Cooper in that Great TV Treacleheap in the Sky. Starting tonight "The O.C." will begin to plow through the last of its original episodes, calling it quits on Thursday, Feb. 22, according to the Fox announcement. The news wasn't much of a surprise, given that the network had ordered only 16 episodes this season; in the past it had ordered 20-something episodes per season.

On a happier note, CBS celebrated another weekly ratings win -- it has won every week this TV season. And NBC basked in the knowledge it was the network of choice for viewers on both Christmas night and New Year's Eve, by offering them the gift of original programming (such as it was) that was like a beacon of hope against the inky rerun firmament.

Here's a look at the week's champagne and hangovers:

WINNERS

"Deal or No Deal."Christmas Day, when millions of Americans gathered with loved ones to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus, their thoughts naturally turned to briefcases and the natural urge to scream at them. Which explains why NBC's "Deal or No Deal" was the most watched television show that night, and for the holiday week, delivering NBC its most watched Christmas prime time since 1993. "Deal" copped more than 16 million viewers, compared with the most watched show last Christmas, a "Cold Case" rerun with 8 million. And you thought the Christmas spirit was dead.

LOSERS

"The O.C."Fox yesterday scrubbed this soap. In its first TV season (2003-04), "The O.C." clocked nearly 10 million viewers -- almost 2 million of them teens -- causing an eczema of media reports on "The OC" being The Next Big Thing. The media's obsession with the show long outlived viewer interest. Though the series quickly cooled among younger viewers -- in its second season, it brought in an average of only 7 million viewers; in its third season, only 6 million; and this season to date, a mere 4 million (fewer than 500,000 of them teens) -- editors continued to demand that their Reporter Who Covers Television bring them "The Next 'O.C.' " "This feels like the best time to bring the show to its close," creator Josh Schwartz said yesterday in a statement, adding "what better time to go out than creatively on top." Whatever.

Marathons.During the week that included both Christmas and New Year's Eve, the broadcast networks generally nap, leaving viewers with nothing but reruns to get them through a week of siblings, cousins and aged aunts. This year they thought they'd fool viewers into thinking their reruns were something special by packaging them as "marathons" including CBS's "How I Met Your Mother" Monday, NBC's "Friday Night Lights" Wednesday and ABC's Saturday "Ugly Betty." Those three "Mother" episodes were the series' lowest rated ever, including even summer reruns. The three "FNL" episodes collectively averaged 3.5 million viewers, compared with the nearly 8 million NBC averaged on the same night a year ago. And the "Ugly Betty"-athon clocked fewer than 4 million, compared with ABC's 6 million-plus the same night last year. Nice try, guys, but no dice.

The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: NBC's "Deal or No Deal"; CBS's "CSI"; NBC's "Sunday Night Football"; CBS's "NCIS"; NBC's "1 vs. 100"; ESPN's Monday Jets-Dolphins football game; and CBS's "CSI: NY," "Criminal Minds," "Kennedy Center Honors" and Thursday "Criminal Minds."


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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