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The Sandy Cohen Chronicles: "Pilot"

Marquette basketball has a freshman coming in this fall named Sandy Cohen. There's only one logical thing to do: recap episodes of The O.C.

The near-unanimous reaction to hearing that Marquette had received a verbal commitment from Seymour (WI) guard Sandy Cohen was "What, the dad from The O.C.?"  As such, it seemed the obvious thing to do would be use The O.C. references when he makes an outstanding play for the Golden Eagles.  We'll spend some time this summer recapping episodes of the classic Fox drama, making notes of major Sandy Cohen moments along the way and giving everyone a guidepost as to what the hell we're talking about come November.

Makes sense, right? Ok, hit it, Phantom Planet!

Season 1, Episode 1 - "Pilot"

We open (Editor's Note: in standard definition.  My gods, how did we ever survive in 2003 without high definition?) on Ryan Atwood and his cartoonishly stereotypical ruffian older brother Trey stealing a car in Chino, California.  How do we know it's Chino?  Well, there's a giant ass graffitti mural behind them that says CHINO in about 10 foot high letters.  It's the first time Ryan's ever stolen a car, and not only did Trey point blank say he's teaching Ryan how to steal cars but Ryan also stares at the police car driving by for what seems like an eternity.

Naturally, that leads to a car chase, which leads to the police causing the Atwood boys to crash and get arrested.  Cut to Ryan getting led to visit with his court appointed public defender and the focus of our attention, Sandy Cohen.  Sandy notes that while Trey is a complete screwup that had a gun and marijuana on him while stealing a car, Ryan's never been arrested before.  He has been suspended from school, though, but Ryan's standardized test scores are in the 98th percentile.  Sandy appeals to the clearly more intelligent than your average delinquent Ryan to get his act together, trying to identify with Ryan by saying he came from a similar background.  Ryan's screaming mother picks him up after Sandy gets him released.  Sandy realizes that Ryan might need more help than just his legal defense, and gives him his home phone number.

Ryan is home for about 30 seconds before his mother kicks him out of the house and Ryan gets into a fight with mom's shiftless layabout of a live-in boyfriend.  After Ryan can't find a landing spot with any friends, he gives Sandy a call.  A montage of a BMW ride to a gated community in Newport Beach ("I thought you guys didn't make a lot of money."  "I don't.  My wife does, though.") later, and Ryan's going to hang out with the Cohens for the weekend.  Sandy goes inside to break the news to his wife, Kirsten, while Ryan wanders down to the end of the driveway to smoke and meets the neighbor girl, Marissa Cooper.  They share a moment before Marissa's douchebag boyfriend shows up.  I don't even know if we ever get his name in this episode, but IMDB tells us his name is Luke Ward.  We can tell Luke's a nozzle before we even get a good look at him, as he speeds up in his jacked up truck and shouts at Marissa to get in.

Kirsten sets Ryan up in the pool house for the night, and the next morning, Ryan meets Sandy and Kirsten's teenaged son Seth.  The boys bond over video games before Sandy boots them outside into the California sun.  Seth takes Ryan sailing on a boat that he's named Summer Breeze after a girl at school that he has a crush on but has never spoken to before.  Sandy convinces the boys that they want to go to the fashion show that Marissa has arranged, although since both Marissa and Summer will be there, it doesn't take much effort.

We cut to the Cooper house briefly, as two dudes in suits show up at the door, and Marissa tells them her dad isn't home.  They leave their card, and it turns out that they're from the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Marissa's dad, Jimmy, is in fact at home, and attempts to be dismissive of whatever it is that the SEC might want to talk to him about.

At the fashion show, Kirsten catches Ryan ordering a 7 & 7 from the bar, Luke the DB intimidates Seth, and Summer finds Ryan attractive.  She invites Ryan to a post-party, which Ryan smartly plays off to Seth as Summer inviting both of them.  The post-party is a teenage house party jacked to the gills, with your usual cadre of drinking, dancing, sex, and stoners also being joined by a bit of cocaine use.  While Marissa surreptisiously adds a lot more vodka to her drink while none of her friends are watching, Summer pounces on Ryan just as Seth walks up and misunderstands what's happening.  Seth mouths off about where Ryan's from (Summer: "Chino? Ew!") and his recent criminal past, and storms off onto the beach, where he is immediately set upon by bullies, led by Luke the DB.  Ryan stands up for Seth, knocking Luke down once, but the pair get their butts kicked, leading to what is probably the most famous line in the entire series:

The boys stumble home, a drunken, beaten mess, Seth more so than Ryan.  Ryan steps outside to smoke, and sees Summer and her friend Holly carry an unconscious Marissa to the Cooper's front door and just leave her there.  Ryan does the smart thing, carrying Marissa back to the pool house and giving her the bed while Ryan takes the couch.

The next morning, Marissa is already gone when Kirsten comes in to find the hung over and bruised boys, and she's not pleased, to say the least.  She fires off at Sandy as he comes back from surfing, but Sandy's kind of happy that Seth got into a scrape, saying he'd rather Seth hang out with someone from the outside world like Ryan than a bunch of Newport Beach trust fund kids.  Kirsten insists that Ryan has to go, which leads to a nice moment between Ryan and Seth, where Ryan offers to shake hands and Seth hugs him.  Sandy gives Ryan a ride back to Chino as Marissa watches them leave.  Ryan lets himself into the house only to find no one there, and not in the "no one home" way, but in the "moved out in the 36 hours that Ryan was gone" way.  The episode closes with Sandy stepping into the front door and saying "Let's go."

Best Sandy Cohen Quote: In a episode with a ton of exposition to introduce all of the players, there's not a lot of fantastic dialogue, but Sandy's best line comes when he's helping Ryan tie his tie for the fashion show.  Ryan was trying to play off having an open collar being cool, but Sandy can tell that he just doesn't know how to tie a knot, telling Ryan that he didn't know how to tie a necktie until he was 25 himself.  Ryan takes a look in a nearby mirror, and while he's not thrilled about it, he's also not disappointed.  Sandy can see the look on Ryan's face and pipes up: "Beats a jumpsuit."  Ah, prison jokes.

Best Sandy Cohen Moment: At the fashion show, Seth is trying to point out Summer to Ryan in as cool a manner as possible as a socially awkward teenager can.  Sandy wanders up to the boys, knowing about Seth's crush and does the "HEY LOOK IS THAT SUMMER OVER THERE?" big dramatic look and point.  It's at once a horrible thing for a parent to do to their kid and also Sandy trying to shove his son out of his shell, so it comes off as very sweet.

That wraps up our first recap.  Is there anything you'd like to see highlighted in future recaps?  Make your demands in the comments section!