Warner Bros. // 2009 // 924 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Kelly (Retired) // September 15th, 2010
Friend and lovers, fame and fate...everything happens in Tree Hill
One Tree Hill still feels like a fairly young television enterprise, yet it's now into its seventh year of existence. The exploits of Tree Hill's youngsters have garnered steady ratings since 2003. Interestingly stars Chad Michael Murray (A Cinderella Story) and Hilarie Burton (The Secret Life of Bees) declined to return for this latest installment, and as a result the show suffered a notable ratings dip during the seventh season. This set collects all 22 episodes from the year past, strung out over five discs with a smattering of extras to keep fans happy. The quality of the program is the same as ever (glossy, but fairly asinine) although fans should find this an agreeable, if not thoroughly unremarkable addition to the Tree Hill legacy.
Running through the entire synopsis for this season would be a ludicrous waste of time, the plot developments in this series are simply too numerous and convoluted to surmise effectively. Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Peyton (Hilarie Burton) have left the town of their youth, and now the rest of the gang are left to shepherd us through the season. The family dynamic between Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti, Bring It On Again) and Nathan (James Lafferty, S. Darko) takes centre stage, with the former suffering a major tragedy. Brooke (Sophia Bush, The Hitcher) endures relationship woes with her filmmaker boyfriend (Austin Nichols, The Informers) on the set of his new movie. Old fan favorites like Dan Scott (Paul Johansson, The Notebook), Mouth (Lee Norris, Zodiac), and Skills (Antwon Tanner, Coach Carter) are also back onboard, alongside a host of new and fresh faced individuals.
The writing on One Tree Hill has always been relatively underwhelming, and season seven sticks tightly to the clichéd mold. The way this series unfolds is certainly dense, but it's never unpredictable; most viewers could probably deduce the outcome of the entire season based on its first quarter alone. The appeal of One Tree Hill is in its gorgeous actors and glossy visual presentation, that's why fans keep coming back for more, period. Even undemanding soap opera fanatics won't be bowled over by the loose and laid back narratives displayed here; indeed Season Seven might even be the laziest I've seen this show sink in terms of story construction. This set puts all its dramatic eggs in very ordinary baskets, throwing up intensely generic subplot concerning terminal illness, bug eyed creeps and of course even a little basketball. There wasn't much truth or honesty in this season's plotting either, this collection of episodes going into overblown melodramatic overdrive during any emotional arc that will accommodate such a wildly exaggerated tone.
The new characters don't even have the depth of the original cast, which in honesty was always a mixed bag. Murray's departure is a plus on the acting front, but newcomers like Robert Buckley and Jana Kramer are game to fill the faceless void. Sophia Bush is a performer who I've always sort of liked, but even she seems to be coasting during this seventh year, and her arc with Nichols is possibly the most excruciatingly dull piece of storytelling this set has to offer. James Lafferty and Galeotti are a reasonably convincing couple but they flounder on their own, the latter positively hopeless in her depiction of a woman sliding into torment and sickness. There just aren't enough decent performances to overcome the stagnant scripting, thus rendering this outing at One Tree Hill an exceedingly flaccid and cold slice of television. The show at least retains its easy on the eyes MTV aesthetic, although it's hardly stylish enough to begin compensating for the deeper flaws or underlying dramatic inertia.
This box set comes equipped with average video and audio capability, but a fairly decent selection of bonus material. A feature in which two fans are put through their paces as production assistants is interesting and even innovative, certainly more compelling and rewarding than anything you'll find in this season of the program. A crop of deleted scenes are also on hand, alongside a featurette that exclusively examines and probes the new additions to the cast. It's fairly self congratulatory stuff, as are the two commentary tracks included that are helmed by series creator Mark Schwahn. All of this content should tickle fans of the show, but those with no interest are going to find this extra fluff just as unimpressive as the actual episodes. A gag reel rounds out the set.
Guilty, but if you're a fan, I'm sure it will suffice.
Review content copyright © 2010 Daniel Kelly; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 924 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Official Site