In the final season premiere of "The O.C.," Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) turned to cage fighting.
So you get to the end of season 1, Luke has been pretty much defanged. He's part of the group. Jimmy and Julie have broken up. Both of those guys you sent away.
Josh Schwartz: And Anna. Not smart on my behalf. Part of it was I had never done this before, so the learning curve was steep. Part of it was I didn't watch a lot of these shows, and the ones that I loved did not make it past one season. So there wasn't a lot of instruction. If I could go back in time and do it all over again I would have for sure kept Anna and Luke in the show. The Jimmy thing was more of a financial thing, but I would have loved to have found a way to keep him in the show, too. There was more mileage to gain from those characters, and part of what I think made season 1 so fun for people was we didn't really know what we were doing. And we were having a blast. I think that was felt. I think you could feel that. We were going for it. It was going to be big and memorable. And we were going to take the villain of the pilot and by the end of his arc on season 1, he was going to be the most sympathetic character on the show. And we cycled through a lot of stories.
Josh Schwartz: So fast. That was fun for us and no one had said to put on the brakes or asked if we ever thought about what's going to come after this season. So I think that's part of what made the show fun to watch. The very things that made the show so fun to watch in that first season became problematic later on 'cause we burned through so much story. So if I could do it all over again, I would have slowed down aspects of those stories and we probably could have kept those guys around. We always talked about Ryan/Anna. We always talked about Luke/Summer. There's all those kind of combinations – Seth/Marissa, we flirted with the idea. There's a moment in season 2 where you think maybe they're heading that way toward each other. When we were trying to stay away from that of just re-pairing people, but those characters that you introduce in your first season are core characters and it's very, very hard to bring characters in who matter as much or ever feel as organically part of the group as those first season characters. We probably didn't help ourselves in season 2 by trying to bring in so many people at once.
Yes, there was Zach and Alex and DJ.
Josh Schwartz: And Lindsay. Some of them worked better than others, but the audience wants to see who they want to see and then they don't want to see a whole bunch of new people all at once. They want to see the core characters. Lessons learned.
So basically you had to start over because you told the stories…
Josh Schwartz: We completed the story. Ryan went back to Chino. The show's over. Yeah. No, no one really prepared me that there were other seasons to come.
Whose idea was the upside-down Spider-Man kiss?
Josh Schwartz (humbly): That was mine. I don't like to take too much credit; put, in parenthesis, “humbly.”
Josh Schwartz: The idea was that this was going to be Seth's ultimate romantic fantasy, that he was going to get Summer back and not only that but get her back as if he was Spiderman. That was really fun to do. And honestly, I just enjoyed introducing rain to Newport Beach and the idea that rain could be a sweeps episode. “It's raining. Oh, my God!”
Season 2 also gives us a new Trey, Logan Marshall-Green.
Josh Schwartz: Yeah. Logan was great. I mean, Logan really came in and brought a good level of danger to the show. I think that's one of those storylines that was more on the melodrama side but I think really worked.
The Imogen Heap song.
Josh Schwartz: Yeah, Imogen Heap. And that's funny. That was a song heard early on in season 2, and I said to Alex, "Can we please just get it and hold it? There's going to be the right time for this song." That end of season 2 was the right moment.
What did you think when “SNL” did the parody years later?
Josh Schwartz: I was thrilled. I mean, it's an honor to be parodied by “SNL,” those Lonely Island guys got their start doing “The Boo,” which was their online parody of “The O.C.” And every time I've ever seen them they've been incredibly nice. There's still stuff that are surfacing. There's still like Internet recuts of things that are set to the Imogen Heap song. I just saw a recut of the Red Wedding from “Game of Thrones” set to “Hide and Seek.” So, that's awesome. I'm proud of that.
All the new characters you introduced that season you cycled through and you were done with by the end of that year.
Josh Schwartz: Yeah. Zach stuck around longer. Alex, we would have liked to have kept around longer. There was a lot of discomfort about the Marissa/Alex storyline.
Okay. Let's talk about that.
Josh Schwartz: We were living in the long shadow of Nipplegate at the Super Bowl and broadcast standards and practices got very intense around that time. I think that storyline made people nervous.
Josh Schwartz: The other thing I forgot to mention that I haven't really talked about very much is in between season one and season two they wanted me to do another show. They originally wanted it to be a spin-off, and they wanted it to be about Anna. I didn't really know what that show was going to be. So we had done 27 episodes (in season 1), and I wrote a lot that season. It was a pretty long season, and then I had a two-week hiatus during which I was supposed to write a pilot for this other show and then spend a little while battling about whether this show was going to happen or if it wasn’t. Finally, I was like, “I have to focus on ‘The O.C.’ I have to focus on the whole reason we're here and kind of pull the plug on myself,” just because I was feeling like completely pulled in all different directions.
I’ll be seeing J.J. Philbin later today.
Josh Schwartz: We had a bunch of great writers who stayed with the show. J.J. was hilarious and John Stephens, Steph, Bob De Laurentiis, Leila Gerstein, who now has created “Hart of Dixie.” We had really, really good writers, and we kind of ran with the same small cadre of writers for the last couple years. I think everybody looked at each other at the end of season three and said, "All right, we are not here to do the Johnny and Chilli story. Why are we here and what do we want to do?” I wanted to do the show that these guys wanted to come work on to begin with. That was a really fun season for everybody because they're really funny writers and quirky writers, and I think got the opportunity to really display that.