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So There's This Show Called...Veronica Mars!

Surprises are the best. To all those people out there who say surprises are the worst: you're wrong. They're boss. Especially when the surprise doubles as one of the most satisfying season finales of a show ever AND thus turns the show itself into one of your new most favoritest television shows ever. This is called the slow-burn surprise and because it's the rarest and most thrilling kind of surprise, the only other show that I ever experienced it with is Lost, which I hated for a good three episodes before I even let it grow on me. Similarly, I never thought I'd ever enjoy a show with teenage characters as much as I do Veronica Mars. But I tried to go in with an open mind because it ended up on so many critics' best-of-the-decade lists, and because I stuck through the first handful of eps and got used to its UPN-ness and cutesy faux-noir aesthetic, I reaped so many benefits. This truly is one of the most expertly crafted mysteries of all time (at least the first season, and to a certain extent, season two as well).

So there's this show called Veronica Mars.

Reason For Johnny-Come-Lateliness: As hinted at above, this was a show on UPN, a station that I avoided since its inception up until its death with the semi-exception of Simpsons reruns, where its ensemble cast was teenagers and the bald guy from Just Shoot Me. And yet, while I feel my tardiness in realizing its genius is justified, I seem to know a number of respectable people (both friends and critics) who have loved the show since it first aired. Who knew? I guess I was completely oblivious and judgmental back in 2004. Yeah, that's the ticket...WAS completely oblivious and judgmental. Definitely do anything like that anymore. I am completely open minded to all things pop culture. Where's the SarcMark when I need it?

Commitment Level: In addition to and possibly because of it being one of the most satisfying surprise-fests of all time, it is an insanely addictive show, especially once you get over the first few episode hump and start to really love the characters and get obsessed with the mystery at hand. In fact, toward the end of season one, in which the eponymous teen detective played by Kristen Bell (she may have had something to do with my ability to stick with it until I officially started loving it; and don't start judging- she was 24 when the show began) got closer and closer to learning who her best friend's killer and her own rapist was (yeah, dark!), Jessica and I got so wrapped up in our own theories and stabs in the dark that we ended up staying up wayyy too late on school nights in order to finish discs and send them back to Nerdflix for more. The only downside (besides the lack of sleep) was that everything was largely wrapped up nice and neatly by the S1 finale that our overdosage inspired us to take a break from V-Mars in between the first two seasons. Though the second season is not nearly as strong as the first, I wish we hadn't because it turned out some of the loose ends we thought were tied up actually weren't!

The Episode That Got Me Addicted: Because it was such a slow burn, this is kind of difficult to pinpoint. If I had to guess, I'd place it right around the time of the season one ep "The Return of the Kane" in which Veronica's dead best friend Lily's (played by Amanda Seyfried of Big Love in flashbacks, by the by) former boyfriend Logan, who Veronica keeps suspecting of being up to something, because he kind of acts like a douche, but is generally very witty, reveals to the audience (not Veronica yet though) that his life at home with his washed-up movie star father (played with equal parts gusto and disgust by Harry Hamlin of the original Clash of the Titans) isn't all it's cracked up to be in the press and at school. Suddenly a show with a very calm, cool, and collected (not to mention cutesily smart, sometimes to the point of annoyance before you start loving them) cast of characters unraveled a layer of obscene darkness a la David Lynch in Blue Velvet and didn't look back. It was done with such panache that it, I believe, officially made Veronica Mars officially not just your average teen drama.

The Moment That Broke My Heart: And believe it or not, even though the aforementioned episode reveal was begging for a sympathetic tear, it was mostly just shocking and discomforting more than anything else. No, the (first) moment that broke my heart was when we find out the truth behind why Abel Koontz confessed (not a spoiler, happens before the first ep even starts) to Lily's murder in the first place in the ep "Kanes and Abel's". Without giving too much away, it is an exemplary example of the show's ability to show the importance of family, for better or worse, which is interesting considering how many teen shows throughout history tossed the notion of family aside and concentrated on friends. Now I'm not right-wing family values Nazi, and I don't think show creator Rob Thomas (who went on to create Party Down) is either, but more so than the friendships amongst characters on the show, the way family is portrayed is bitter, honest, and more often than not, devastating. It's possibly the show's greatest quality, right alongside its deft ability to keep an audience guessing about a murder mystery that never gets boring.

Favorite Character(s): If I were to list just one more lens that Thomas employs oh so well in Veronica Mars, especially in its (now that I think about it) actually underrated second season is its ability to star pretty upper-class (and mostly white) people in southern California but still address race and class in complex ways, though never exactly realistically. I say this because I think, after a lot of hemming and hawing, Weevil is my favorite character. I may be biased because now in the throes of season three actor Francis Capra has transformed Weevil into one of the saddest and most sympathetic characters in the history of television (and not just because he got fat and has a skin problem), but really his arc with his motorcycle crew the PCHers rivaling against both the 09ers and the Fitzpatricks in season two made him into an unparalleled harbinger of heartbreak and class struggle. If you don't like your supporting characters bold and depressing though, let's go with Ken Marino's portrayal of Vinnie Van Lowe, the less talented private eye in Neptune, always playing the dope to Enrico Colantoni's brilliantly modest Keith Mars. Speaking of Party Down stars, Ryan Hansen also slowly helped Dick become the character he should have been since he was introduced, all cocky and amateurish, but with a troubled soul.

Questions I Can't Wait To Be Answered: Really, because the show is so good at tying up its loose ends in its season-long mysteries by each finale, I have no questions in season three other than why in the hell must it end here? Of course I want to know who the head-shaving on-campus rapist is, but I'm afraid I'm going to find on soon and we're going to move on to another smaller-scale mystery than either season one or two, as I've been told by a little bird (read: my friend Molly). I guess, even though it's unlikely given the show's sudden cancellation three years ago, I'm wanting to know if Wallace will ever see Jackie again, if Veronica will ever see Duncan again, if Veronica's mom will ever show back up, if Weevil will ever get a break, and if Keith will ever just suck it up and propose to Wallace's mom, even though that's impossible now for a number of reasons. Also, can I name my dog Back-Up when I get one like V-Mars? Cuz that's all kinds of awesome.

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  1. Blogger Lane | 8:30 PM |  

    I am so there with you right now about Buffy the vampire slayer...
    so sad to admit yet true

  2. Blogger TG | 1:12 PM |  

    Thanks for a great article...
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