Case Number 10150

ONE TREE HILL: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON

Warner Bros. // 2003 // 937 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // October 11th, 2006

The Charge

Please be aware, as tonight's episode of One Tree Hill will distress some viewers.
Parental Discretion Is Advised.

Opening Statement

When Chad married Sophia it seemed like a match made in heaven: Two pretty people, working together, making a life together. The ceremony was lovely -- and then it all went to pot. She said marriage meant commitment, but he had other ideas. Five months later she asked the court to have the marriage annulled. Shortly after that, twenty-four year old Chad began dating seventeen year old Kenzie, who also worked with him and his (now ex) wife Sophia. With rumors of a pregnancy hitting the airwaves, Chad and Kenzie were engaged three months later. That didn't keep the administration of Kenzie's school from baring Chad from the prom saying it would be too disruptive. Kenzie was disappointed so Chad bought her a Mercedes Benz.

Welcome to One Tree Hill. Oh wait! None of that happened on the show! It happened to the stars of the show! I kid you not.

Facts of the Case

This ensemble teen drama from The CW Network (formerly The WB) is about the lives and loves of the people of Tree Hill, North Carolina. Center stage are half-brothers, Lucas (Chad Michael Murray, Gilmore Girls, House of Wax) and Nathan (James Lafferty, Once and Again). Their father, Dan (Paul Johansson, Highlander: The Raven) is a total loon, but their respective mothers (Moira Kelly and Barbara Alyn Woods) a bit more stable.

Mostly, the series is about the brothers and their friends, Peyton (Hilarie Burton), Brooke (Sophia Bush), Haley (Bethany Joy Lenz ), Mouth (Lee Norris) and assorted other characters. There's plenty of typical teen angst from who's dating who, to clashes on the basketball court, to the perils of teen marriage, and the ups and downs of trying to live your dream. In addition, you'll also find a sprinkling of mystery and intrigue (much of which belongs with the adult characters) that includes arson, blackmail and even murder.

Sounds like a great place to raise your kids, doesn't it?

The Evidence

One Tree Hill was one of those TV shows I always meant to watch. Since I watched a lot of shows on the former WB Network, I was always intrigued by the weekly promos but somehow never managed to tune in. This box set was my chance to finally get a good look at the series and frankly, I've come back with mixed reviews.

On the whole, the show is what I expected. It's soap-operaish and leans toward the romantic entanglements of the characters lives. What I wasn't expecting was the healthy dose of mystery and intrigue built into the story. Over the course of just a few episodes one character was set on fire, one was shot, several nearly drown -- and then there's that whole crazed student with a gun thing.

Personally, I like these exciting plot twists more than I like the romantic storylines, but there weren't enough of them to keep me entertained for the length of the season. I quickly found myself boring of the who's kissing who plotlines, the wringing of hands over what to wear, and the other mundane woes of the pretty and popular. And I guess that's what bothers me most about the show -- it's about the pretty and the popular. I get the impression here that the only thing needed to salvage a dire day is a massage and new color of nail polish.

On the other hand, One Tree Hill doesn't claim to be anything more than it is. They acknowledge that they're a teen fantasy complete with an appropriately emo WB soundtrack. The music is such a huge part of the series that there's an enormous website devoted to it. In this third season set, you'll even find several live performances by popular bands Fall Out Boy and Jack's Mannequin, as well as the lovely Michelle Featherstone.

What you won't find on this DVD set is depth -- of any kind. The bonus features on this DVD are underwhelming. There are the typically tedious deleted scenes, a gag reel that isn't funny, two commentaries, and a short behind-the-scenes piece called "Anatomy of an Episode." Those last two items are particularly special; move on to the rebuttal and I'll tell you why.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Through all the fluff, implausible storylines, and pretty smiles from pretty people, there's one episode that sets itself apart from the rest. It's called "With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds and Tired Souls, We Slept." To put it simply, it's the Columbine episode. (And how sad is it that you all know what I mean when I say that word.) Since the series deals with the lives of teenagers in high school, it seemed almost inevitable that they would make such an episode (and yet they debated the wisdom of doing so). The commentary on this episode and the making-of featurette both address the issue of "should we" or "shouldn't we." They certainly didn't want to glorify or make light of this modern phenomena that is school shootings. On the contrary, they wanted to make a statement about how these kinds of incidents affect more than just those directly involved. For this one episode the pretty and popular heroes of the show take a backseat to a chubby, bullied young man who has been humiliated for the last time. When you see the realness of Jimmy (Colin Fickes) balanced against this cast of plastic, perfect people, it's pretty easy to see why kids kill kids. It's a sobering lesson and one, I fear, blew right past the core audience for this TV series. I would bet that if you asked a hundred fans to list this season's most memorable moments, Chad Michael Murray dressing up as Jack Sparrow would likely land much higher than this topical episode.

Closing Statement

One Tree Hill is as famous for its off screen antics as it is for what happens on the show (if not more). Wild child star Chad Michael Murray is much more a character than the character he plays on the show. If you're a fan of The O.C. and Dawson's Creek, then you'll thoroughly enjoy this series. Otherwise, buy yourself a box set of Gilmore Girls and leave One Tree Hill: The Complete Third Season on the shelf.

The Verdict

This court finds One Tree Hill: The Complete Third Season guilty, but there's no way these pretty kids are going to serve a day of jail time.

Review content copyright © 2006 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 70
Acting: 75
Story: 70
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* Spanish

Running Time: 937 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary on two episodes by series creator Mark Schwahn, executive producer Joe Davola, and cast members
* 30 minutes of unaired scenes
* Anatomy of an Episode: A behind-the-scenes look at the creation of "With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept"
* Gag reel

Accomplices
* The Official CW Site
http://www.cwtv.com/

* One Tree Hill Fansite
http://www.onetreehillweb.net/

* One Tree Hill Fans
http://www.onetreehillfans.com/

* The Music of One Tree Hill
http://www.oth-music.com/

* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0368530/combined