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So this is me, publicly jumping on the Veronica Mars bandwagon. And if you find mindlessly fannish blather tiresome you should look away now, because this post is going to be full of it. I'm not nearly past the crush stage yet, and until I am I'm going to be short on analytical thinking.

The setup: welcome to Neptune High, school for the kids of the rich and famous. And everyone else, of course, but in this town they don't matter. Meet Veronica Mars, daughter of Keith Mars, local private eye and ex-town sheriff. The aforementioned rich and famous ran him out of office when he accused a local computer software billionaire of murdering his own daughter. Said daughter was also Veronica's best friend; the brother of the daughter was Veronica's boyfriend.

So Veronica had to make a choice, and she chose family, and that cost her dear. Now she's an outcast, more likely to be found helping her Dad out on a case than hanging with her former peers; and you should hear the things they say about her, behind her back. It really doesn't help that her Mum left town, either, for parts and reasons unknown. And though a murderer has been found, arrested and convicted, there's something about Laura Palmer Lilly Kane's death that doesn't quite add up ...

So far, so Buffy-meets-Beverly Hills? Wrong. Or right, but in the best possible way. Here are a half-dozen things I love about this show:

The town. The place feels real, and it's got fathoms under the surface; it's not named after the god of the sea for nothing. Veronica Mars gets to have its cake and eat it, because they can show us lifestyles of the glamorous and lucky, but in this show the fact that some people don't matter matters. There's a real dissection of race and class going on, and it can be uncompromising.

The metaphor. You remember the one-line pitch for Buffy, right? 'High school is hell'. Boom, you've got it, as David Hines once said. You can see the stories. What I only just realised is that Veronica Mars does the same thing--using a genre as a metaphor--but with crime instead of fantasy. The one-line pitch might be 'growing up is solving the mystery of who you are'. There are several ways in which Veronica literally does not know who she is; things in her past she doesn't have answers for. And where in a regular teen show they'd be played straight, here they're tied into cases she has to solve. And you can broaden it, too, if you like, because nobody in Neptune is quite what they seem; 'growing up is figuring people out', maybe. Personal development through sleuthing, is what it is; and I like it. A lot.

The style. There might be--ok, there are--all sorts of dubious things going on under the surface, but to look at it you'd never know. I've seen the description 'high school noir' bandied around, and it seems to be apt; there are the voiceovers, the sleuthing, the desperate ambiguity and moral murkiness. But for the most part the episodes are all bright colours and SoCal sunshine and sparkling wit, and that really works for the show, because when the bad things happen they hit your gut that much harder.

The plotting. Stuff happens. It's only when you see a show like Veronica Mars that you realise quite how much most American network TV messes around with nothing-stories, waiting for sweeps period. Of course there's an element of that, but from episode one there's always something that matters. Events build on each other, new things are revealed, people develop. And here's another impressive thing: they're all good. I've watched eight episodes now, and none of them have sucked. I haven't seen a first season this consistent since season one West Wing.

The relationships. Whether it's Veronica and her father having a functional relationship (and god that's refreshing after--much as I love those shows--umpteen years of the MEverse), or the friendship between Veronica and the new kid, Wallace, or the evolving animosity/respect/whatever the hell between Logan Echolls and Weevil, these are interesting dynamics, written with freshness and (overused word coming up, but it's true) honesty.

And lastly, of course, Veronica Mars. Oh, how I love Veronica Mars. She can be rash, and impulsive, and judgemental, and she walks eyes-open into some deeply grey areas, but she's sharp, and capable, and perceptive, and determined, and loyal, and I could go on all night about what a brilliant lead she is, but I should stop.

Beg, buy, borrow or steal this series. That's all there is to it.

(One thing I have been wondering: how exactly does Bechdel's Rule work for TV shows? Because Veronica certainly has conversations with other women about subjects other than men on a weekly basis, but I think I'm right in thinking that none of them are members of the regular cast. So does that count, or not?)

(And did I mention that when they show computer screens, they are recognisably computer screens? As in, running identifiable bits of OSX software? It's the little things that make me happy.)

(And the theme tune's ace, too.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Is Veronica Mars the thing that Alyson Hannigan has been showing up in? Worth it for that, really...
Not sure. I lost track of what all the different Buffy alums were guest-starring in; she hasn't shown up yet, but she may well do later on.
Yeah, it's great, isn't it?

I just started watching last Friday, somewhat embarrasingly have finished the season now. If you like the first 8, you should enjoy the rest of it I think - its pretty consistent.

KB as Veronica is amazing - and I love that the character is written as smart. Not that any of the actors let the side down, really...

The one problem I have with the show is I'm growing a bit bored with VOs and endless flashbacks in my viewing, but the rest of the show more than makes up for it.

And never heard of Bechdel's Rule before - but was amused when did a search on it. A few weeks I was arguing with a friend that it was really hard to write good scenes between two girls talking, mostly because I've got so very, very little to copy off... To be honest, I think VM is as guilty as anyone else - she talks to a few girls here and there, but the key relationships of the show are all with boys.
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I've seen the description 'high school noir' bandied around, and it seems to be apt; there are the voiceovers, the sleuthing, the desperate ambiguity and moral murkiness. But for the most part the episodes are all bright colours and SoCal sunshine and sparkling wit, and that really works for the show, because when the bad things happen they hit your gut that much harder.

Don't forget Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe worked in the bright California sunshine too.
I vaguely knew that, but my knowledge of noir is not nearly extensive enough to start making statements about how noir (or not) VM is, and I didn't want to risk the wrath of ajr twice in one week. :)
Oh, how I love Veronica Mars.

I saw her first! She's MY TV girlfriend!
I'll fight you for her. And I'll win.
onto this TV bandwagon by a friend, and I *love* it

:D
\o/
\o/

It's funny, I started downloading the show back in September (courtesy of a mention on the back page of the Guardian Guide). While I instantly liked it, I really wasn't sure about recommending it to people. I think mostly that's because on paper, it really shouldn't work, but it's just so damn well-written and performed, and I'd say you haven't even got to the really good parts of the season yet.
I think mostly that's because on paper, it really shouldn't work, but it's just so damn well-written and performed

I could pick nits if I wanted to. I have minor issues with how Troy was handled, and at some point I want to watch 'Return of the Kane' again because I'm not sure it actually works as well as I initially thought it did. Plus, dude, we all watched a show about a vampire-slaying cheerleader. I think you can trust us to look past the thumbnail sketch. :)

I'd say you haven't even got to the really good parts of the season yet.

You should probably get around to sending me those, then. [g]
Untitled by Anonymous :: Expand
the little things

ITYM 'shameful product placement'?
Product placement for Apple is acceptable. Actively encouraged, even.
So, how can I get my hands on some eps, eh?
The quickest way is probably actually to hassle Andrew, because you'll see him sooner than you'll see me (unless you're coming to the punt party?). But if he's being particularly slack I'll give you some when I see you. Or post them. Something, anyway.
You know, sorry, I'm still not convinced enough to bother sitting down to watch an episode. ;-)
Dude, they are showing the pilot again tonight at 9! What better time to give it a go? :p
Beg, buy, borrow or steal this series. That's all there is to it.

Sounds good. But where oh where will I find such people to beg, buy, borrow, or steal from?
Well if you ask really nicely, one of us might bring some to Italy.
One of us! One of us!
I, for one, welcome my new girl detective overlord. [g]
Have just watched the first episode instead of going to work.

Yeah, i like it. Good show, that.

I really, really like Keith, and his relationship with Veronica. He's one of the most believable characters i've seen on a pulp TV show in ages. His dialogue is superb, too.

The characters at the school, though, are basically two-dimensional cardboard-cutout stereotypes. Cut out with a cookie cutter. Although Wallace is obviously a cutout i really like. Now, i've only seen one episode, so maybe they don't stay that way. Or maybe they do, and that's kind of the point - people at that age are pretty two-dimensional. Moreover, the simplicity and childishness of their lives and dramas are a counterpoint to the more complex, grown-up stuff that's happening on the flipside of the town, with Keith, the kids' parents and the other adults. I don't know what the musical analogy for Veronica is, but she's the bridge between the two worlds.

Could someone burninate the rest of the first season onto DVDs for me by Batmanday?

-- tom
Have just watched the first episode instead of going to work.

I hate you.

I really, really like Keith, and his relationship with Veronica.

Yes. I think someone described him as 'equal parts dad and dork'. And bad-ass PI, when he needs to be.

Now, i've only seen one episode, so maybe they don't stay that way.

We get more detail on most of them. One thing you have to bear in mind is that a lot of what we see is actually filtered through Veronica's perceptions--the viewpoint is a lot closer to tight-third or even first-person than in most tv shows. She is not always a reliable narrator (she's generally pretty good, but has some biases).