One Tree Hill has never been a guilty pleasure of mine: I've long been a viewer-- it's long been a pleasure-- but never a guilty one.
My investment in the show has dwindled in recent years. However, SOAP Net's recent re-broadcast of the first season reconfirmed and rekindled my interest and enthusiasm. SOAP net groups One Tree with Beverly Hills 90210 and The O.C. and promotes all three with a slogan that masterfully captures the show's strengths and pleasures-- "Pretty people. Pretty messed up." I imagine this line does justice to all three shows, but I'm only interested in my One Tree. The first season layers reversal upon reversal, development upon development, collision upon collision to produce a masterfully-crafted chain reaction of plot and character development.
I had to cancel my season pass to One Tree Hill on SOAP Net because, with one episode airing a day, it took up too much time. I'm trying to read more and watch less TV. Not cut out TV altogether, mind you. Just temper things. My friend Chris reminds me that I've been saying this for years...
As a result of my recent SOAP Net experience, I have become more attentive to current episodes of One Tree. The show is an entirely different beast at this point. Some episodes are merely perfunctory: for instance, the most recent installment "Ashes of Dreams You Let Die." Other recent screenings, however, have seen me laugh maniacally at the show's audacious artificiality. The recent episode"The Runaway Found" highlighted the operatic brilliance that is my One Tree. It incorporates an operatic intensity, use of visual emblems that evoke masques of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, and dialogue at once staid and florid that makes me think of Dryden's heroic drama.
Some examples of brilliance from "The Runaway Found":
1) A drunken Dan accidentally smashes a bottle of booze on his brother's grave stone. Struggling awkwardly with a cigarette, he drops his lighter which sets the grave ablaze.
For those of you not in the know, Dan shot and killed his brother Keith.
2) Haley's assailant, Derek, is played by Matt Barr.
Barr has always looked like a gay porn star to me. In the Leo and Lance tradition. Or maybe a bottom akin to Kevin Kramer, seen here in Bruce La Bruce's Hustler White:
Derek's prison get-up only inflames any gay-porn resonance. But, One Tree delivers what gay porn, sadly, lacks. Whimpering and tears.
Now that's how a blond in a prison jumper is properly eroticized.
3) Dan takes aim.
Dan aims at stuffed bears (in a gun shop!?).
Dan aims at girl.
Girl drops dollie.
4) In a church,
Dan-- sitting in a pew-- loads a gun and
drops it into a paper bag.
5) A lovely example of chiasmus, Kenneth's favorite rhetorical figure:
Nathan: I've forsaken a game that's always been incredibly good to me. And teammates that have been like brothers. And a brother that was a teammate.6) Dan, reflected in a framed photo of his brother Keith and his spurned son, Lucas.
Dan: I've done some horrible things. Unforgivable things. Lucas didn't need a father; he had one. He had a person that helped him breach the shame of my cowardice. Everything I've touch I've diminished: Deb's life, Nathan's talent, Keith...The implausibility of these terms, this phrasing-- their operatic pitch-- cinches the genius of this episode.
Karen: You're not without redemption. I've seen it. I see it.
Two quick notes:
1) The image of Brooke Davis at the beginning of the post is not from the episode "The Runaway Found."
2) The images from the Hidden Palms blog look better than the above because we recently upgraded our equipment. I took snapshots of One Tree prior to the upgrade.