Well, it wasn't much of a kick-off to season nine of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Lydia, Gretchen and Alexis have all hit the bricks, leaving us with an uncomfortable trio of Tamra, Vicki and Heather. Usually we don't find the ladies jetting off for an adventure until much later in the season, but with only three returning Housewives in the mix, I'm sure some bonding seemed like a good thing. Unfortunately, what we learned is that Tamra and Vicki may be lunatics, but they're a similar brand of crazy. Heather is just too smart for the show and hasn't figured it out yet.

Thus, a trip tagging along with Heather so she can shoot a small part on "Hawaii Five-O" turns into one of those annoying family vacations during which one person has to play know-it-all and, unfortunately, does. Heather seems to be the only woman on the show who did her homework or paid attention in class, and for some reason this just bugs the living crap out of Vicki and, to a lesser extent, Tamra. While I'm happy to see the girls get into silly arguments, I really don't want those arguments to be about the name of a tree. 

Still, at least our surviving gals are live wires. The first new cast member we meet, Shannon, is the kind of housewife you actively try to avoid at the neighborhood potluck. Her house is made with all eco-friendly materials! She doesn't believe in cell phones! She loves acupuncture! She's a true SoCal gal! Whee!

I'm guessing she's going to show another side soon enough, at least judging from the promo. Vicki doesn't declare someone "fun" unless she's willing to get blotto drunk, possibly wet her pants, and scream like a she-beast at someone who isn't expecting it. That was clearly on the agenda for Heather in Hawaii, but given that "Fancypants" wasn't interested in putting on a show for her so-called friends, it didn't happen. I'm guessing Shannon, when she isn't worrying about wifi-induced brain cancer, has no problem snarfing down a bottle or two of vodka which may or may not be organic.

We haven't met Lizzie yet, but I'm hoping she's got some personality. As it stands, Shannon looks like she's going to need time (and perhaps a crumbling marriage) to loosen up, Heather isn't interested, and we've been watching Vicki and Tamra bat around the same old ball for seasons and seasons. Even ganging up on Vicki about sneaking around with Brooks wasn't much fun for either Heather or Tamra, who know better than to poke the bear (they're leaving that job to Briana, who'll be doing it long-distance from Oklahoma). Here's hoping things improve behind the Orange Curtain soon -- or Bravo may want to do even more recasting.

What do you think of Shannon? Are you getting tired of Tamra and Vicki? Do you think Heather is a know-it-all?