In the final season premiere of "The O.C.," Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) turned to cage fighting.
You mentioned Johnny and Chilli. Lots of different things are happening in season 3 and one of them is we meet the shadow version of the cast on the beach.
Josh Schwartz: Yeah. Which was supposed to be funny and then – look, season 2, I get things may or may not have worked as well as season 1, but I still on the whole feel like there was a lot of good stuff in that season, a lot of fun stuff. I felt really good about it. Season 3, I was burned out, personally. I think some of the cast were frustrated with the direction the show was going. We had a new network president who wanted us to introduce, you know, a more adult soap storyline and, “Can we get Nicollette Sheridan? If only we could get Nicollette Sheridan,” you know. “Desperate Housewives” was crushing at the time. I think we just started making a different show. We were just trying to make a show that delivered on the melodrama and even if we're doing something that was kind of amusing like Ryan's bar mitzvah it was in the service of Johnny robbing a liquor store.
And that's the year with the trouble in the Cohen marriage, right?
Josh Schwartz: No, that was introduced in season 2. That's probably, if I had to list one other regret, it would be that.
Sandy and Kirsten were the perfect couple, perfect marriage. Was that hard to write over multiple years and that's why they started having trouble and Billy Campbell and other trouble started showing up?
Josh Schwartz: Yeah. I mean, it was partially that. It's partially you're just looking to find story from some new avenue. Again, the Sandy/Kirsten dynamic and the strength of their marriage was really important. I think it got to a good place in the intervention scene with Kirsten. It was actually a really nice Cohen family moment, but the “Will Sandy stray?” storyline was probably hard on some of our viewers but anyway, sorry.
So anyway, I think the problem, the biggest problem with season 3 was, say what you will about Oliver or say what you will about Marissa and Alex, or whatever it is, they were memorable, they were fun, and I think season 3 was probably a little safe, a little boring at times.
So season 4 is a funnier season, but it also opens up with Ryan Atwood, cage fighter.
Josh Schwartz: Yeah. We were going for it. We wanted to be big and memorable, and the show always had this kind of operatic strength to it. And it certainly wasn't like lost on the other characters; they were making comments of, “Oh, Ryan's cage fighting.”
Hey, I like Ryan Atwood, cage fighter.
Josh Schwartz: Look, it's memorable. Again, I think the worst thing you can accuse a show like this of being is predictable or dull. The idea with season 4 was going to come back and we really wanted it to feel vivid and fun and memorable, and get that kind of spirit back. The cage fighting certainly allowed you to understand the place that Ryan was at in his life.
In season three you had introduced Taylor; did you have any sense of what she and Autumn (Reeser) were going to be bringing to the show?
Josh Schwartz: Well we knew she was great. That was another long season where we were struggling at times, but that was a character that everybody was very excited to write. So, on the wish list of things for season 4, Taylor Townsend and Autumn Reeser were going to be right at the top of that list.
And Chris Pratt we knew about from “Everwood.” Patrick Rush, our casting director, who cast “Everwood” said, "He's really funny." He was the first guy who auditioned for “Chuck,” by the way. J.J.'s married to Michael Schur, so Mike had a front-row seat to how good Chris Pratt was and he got “Parks and Rec” off of that.
Yeah, now they're in London filming their premiere just so that Pratt can be in it. So it's a good time to be Chris Pratt.
Josh Schwartz: Yeah. Well, by the way, a hundred percent deserved. That guy is awesome. He's hilarious and he brought so much life to the set and the cast, and you start to feel all the other actors have to raise their game 'cause they knew this guy was walking in and he was really, really fun.