Since the first thing we see is Oliver from The O.C. in his room, doing his homework, I should probably lead off by mentioning that I didn't watch The O.C. during Oliver's reign of suck, so I don't have any predetermined animosity towards Taylor Handley. I'm leaving it up to this show to build that up. So Oliver, or "Johnny," as we'll be calling him, is all prepped out, with a collared shirt and sweater, and his hair neatly slicked back. His Dad (Tim DeKay -- he won't be staying long, unfortunately) stumbles by with his tumbler full of Grandma's cough medicine. It's pouring rain outside, so you know some bad shit's gonna go down. Dad's a sad drunk, rather than a mean one, and he instructs his son to do something creative with his life -- be a poet or a trumpet player. Neruda gets quoted, and Johnny gently tries to nudge Dad out the door so he can go sleep it off. Rather than do that, Dad steps out into the hall, puts a gun into his mouth, and blows his brains out. Ironically enough, he never even met Greta.
"One year later..." If you're wondering what might have happened to Johnny in the intervening twelve months, allow Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" to wash away all nagging questions. Suddenly, we're in Palm Springs, where it's not raining anymore. Or ever again. Johnny's just moved there with his Mom and Mom's new husband Bob. He's also unbuttoned his shirt, mussed up his hair and taken up photography, which means he's ready to be the lead in a CW teen drama. Also: when did amateur photography replace an acoustic guitar as the hobby du jour for soulful teen dreams? Things are understandably strained between Johnny and Mom, what with Dead Dad, re-marriage, and the fact that Johnny's fresh out of rehab. Lucky for him, he's got a whole cul-de-sac full of odd neighbors to distract him, none odder than Liza, who conducts weird science experiments while dressed up in HazMat gear. She's so covered up, in fact, that we're all shocked when we discover that this mad scientist is, in fact, a GIRL! Johnny also notices, from his bedroom window, what appears to be a woman getting stabbed in the house next door. And then someone throws a bloody rubber hand into his window with a "Meet me outside" note. This incorrigible lad is Cliff Wiatt (Zach from The O.C. -- again, don't remember him much, but: cute!), his neighbor, who liked to play pranks such as these with Eddie, the kid who used to live in the room Johnny now occupies. Cliff's popped collar reveals him to be a preppie, but he also appears to be lovably goofy and, though I'm not sure it's what the show intended, almost constantly hitting on Johnny in one way or another. He tells Johnny that Palm Springs is wicked boring, but it's good to have him here, because "this town is in desperate need of fresh blood."