One Tree Hill follows the story of two estranged half-brothers living in a small North Carolina town, who carry on very different lives. Basketball prodigy Nathan Scott (James Lafferty, Once & Again) has inherited the throne of high school popularity once held by his father, Dan (Paul Johansson, Beverly Hills 90210), while Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray, Dawson's Creek, Gilmore Girls), also a talented player stays an outsider. Spending nights shooting hoops on a riverfront court, Lucas remains the son Dan never acknowledged. Now Lucas' and Nathan's paths intersect for the first time, and in the middle of the crossroads stands Payton Sawyer (Hilarie Burton, Dawson's Creek), Nathan's beautiful girlfriend who just may have more in common with Lucas. Throw in the quiet animosity between Dan and his brother Keith (Craig Shaffer, A River Runs Through It), along with Lucas' mother, Karen (Moira Kelly, The West Wing) - all of whom must cope with the aftermath of their choices - and something has to give. One Tree Hill has also served as a showcase for some of today's hottest musical acts, featuring music by Jet, Snow Patrol, The Darkness, Yellowcard, Switchfoot and Five for Fighting. The series has additionally featured guest appearances by Grammy and Golden Globe Award nominated Sheryl Crow and Gavin DeGraw, who's single "I Don't Want To Be" serves as the show's theme song.
One Tree Hill: The Complete First Season
marks the beginning of a genuinely engrossing series that maintains, for a long while, an unusual focus on a single, powerful conflict defining the destinies of two characters. Adolescent half-brothers Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan (James Lafferty) Scott have lived parallel lives in One Tree, North Carolina. They share a common father, Dan Scott (Paul Johansson), who has disregarded the existence of Lucas, his son by a one-time flame, Karen (Moira Kelly), whom he dumped years before to accept a basketball scholarship to college. While neglecting Lucas, Dan--whose hoop dreams never materialized--has spent his time almost perversely micro-managing every one of Nathan's moves on and off the court at his old high school, where the lad is currently an arrogant superstar under gruff-but-wise coach Whitey Durham (Barry Corbin). Nathan (whose mother is separated from Dan) is a child of privilege and has been raised to disregard teamwork, compromise, or the feelings of others. He regards Lucas, a basketball sensation on neighborhood playgrounds, as trash, and his own girlfriend, Peyton (Hilarie Burton), as a pretty bauble he can abuse and dismiss at will. Still, he's sympathetic; one can see glimpses of the human being struggling to emerge from under Dan's control.
Meanwhile, Lucas helps Karen run her café, hangs out with platonic best friend Haley (Bethany Joy Lenz), and pines for Peyton (herself a punky misfit at heart). He also turns to surrogate dad Keith Scott (Craig Sheffer)--actually his uncle and Dan's older brother--for support, and sees himself as a perpetual and doomed outsider in One Tree. All that changes when Whitey invites Lucas to join the b-ball team that Nathan dominates, a move that challenges the status quo of multiple relationships in a small community. For about a third of its episodes, this series from creator Mark Schwahn (who wrote the hit film Coach Carter) stays true to the suspense surrounding Lucas's and Nathan's changes in fortune. Then a bit of padding follows to the end of the season; there are 22 episodes to fill out, after all. But even as various distractions (a kidnapping subplot, a car accident and coma for a major character) and random events creep in (Dan, rather incredibly, takes over the team from Whitey at one point, thus coaching both his sons), One Tree Hill remains highly watchable. The writing is shaped well and organic, while performances are consistently excellent. (It's especially good to see Sheffer, perhaps best known for A River Runs Through It, again.) --Tom Keogh