Yes, I’m telling you that you need to watch a show on UPN, okay. Give it up and read on.
Long time readers are not stunned to know I like to watch TV. I’m not going to bother with this history lesson. That said, I like to watch Girl Power TV. Seriously, I liked early Xena and Buffy, I like to giggle over She Spies when I’m able to find it, and I’ll watch Kim Possible all day long. So it comes as no surprise that I gave Veronica Mars a trial by fire last week.
Premise: High School Allison Mack look alike plays outcast PI with her dad, who used to be sheriff, and solves mysteries in her home town of Neptune CA.
Yeah, it read like Chloe, from Smallville, meets Twin Peaks. Then again, I gave the show with the premise of ‘teen girl has unexpected conversations with G-d’ a chance, so I’ll try at least three episodes. This is my normal bet. Every show that looks interesting gets three episodes. I watch the first and if I forget to watch the second (CSI: NY), then obviously I didn’t care. If I watch the second and it sucks ass without redemption (CSI: Miami), I leave it. If I watch the third, like as not I’m in for the season, much to my girlfriend’s dismay.
Veronica Mars had me programing the VCR halfway through the first episode.
I know what you’re thinking. “It has an annoying, anvillish, voice over. The show is full of puns (Mars, Neptune, hah hah). It’s a total ‘Chloe the Series’ rip off.”
Yes, yes and yes, but it’s still good. Firstly, the star is not Allison Mack (who is still the best fucking thing on Smallville, next to Michael Rosenbaum) but Kristen Bell. Check the head-shots, it’s obvious that UPN decided that the Chloe-do and the cute but deep blonde would be a solid choice. The last UPN show to do well was a show staring a blonde prissy Californian princess, after all.
Okay, second, her ‘best friend’ (he’s her only friend, and she’s argue about the friend bit) is from Cleveland. I gotta give props for that.
The website is actually, G-d help me, cool, witty, and written in the very tone of voice I’d expect from Veronica. My only argument is that she would never have a website. People can get information off them, and she’s a Junior PI. Ain’t the sort of thing the paranoid do.
I’m feeling like I’m not explaining why the show is cool. I’m not. Here’s the deal. It just is cool. It’s a real world-esque story, with the real sort of people you’d expect. Unlike 90210, or Buffy, the school is scummy and used. It’s a gritty show, with realism that had me hitting mute on the flashback to the roofie/Veronica’s possibly raped scene. They didn’t have any dialouge in it, though. They had Veronica go hazy, black out, and wake up in a way we all knew meant what it meant.
The writing is right for teens and adults. None of this Dawson’s crack ‘I’m really old for my age and thus speak with knowledge I have not’ bullshit. Teens talk like teens. Veronica goes deep cause she’s been scared and is deep. Wallace (the guy from Cleveland!) is as shallow as a teen-aged boy should be. Wevill, the biker gang leader, straddles the line between adult and child, the way you’d expect someone from his socio-economic background to behave.
The acting is spot on. You can tell the difference in the way people act if it’s a flashback or not. If you couldn’t figure it out by the color filter. Except for Paris Hilton, everyone holds their own and adds to the joy of the show. Given that a lot of these kids were last seen in things like ‘Reefer Madness’ and other such drek, I’m pleasantly thrilled at the character depth they pull off. You can tell that Duncan (long story, see the website) is missing a few links in his chain. I suspect he’s on some sort of prescription drug to suppress his abject terror of his dead sister. I said it was a long story.
The thing that amuses me most is the main cast:
Veronica Mars – Titular character and resident blonde
Wallace Fennel – ‘Best Friend’ to Veronica
Duncan Kane – Ex-boyfriend of Veronica, brother to deceased Lily (Veronica’s best friend)
Logan Echols – Asswipe best friend of Duncan, used to date Lily and be friends with Veronica. Currently wants Veronica to suffer.
Weevil – Head of the biker gang, and on a semi-working relationship with Veronica. Duct taped Wallace to the flag pole in Ep 1.
Keith Mars – Veronica’s dad.
Three of those, four if I stretch for Weevil, make sense. Duncan, if he figures out his damage, would also make sense. Logan? Not so much. The actor’s playing him the perfect son of a bitch. I knew him in High School and had fantasies of making his life hell. In my Roleplaying Game, he’s the guy my character would key his car, just to be that way.
But having that sort of tension, every day, is real. Bullies, once they have a mark, aren’t going to back off. They get you every day until you snap or they’ve had enough. That’s what they do. Most of us try to get to the point where the had enough is before we snap. Veronica, I’m not so sure.
This show couldn’t exist on any other channel. CBS and NBC barely do grit if it’s not the CSI or L&O franchises. ABC is owned by Disney and don’t go for wacky/darkness this way (Alias and Lost not withstanding). FOX would make it super pretty and fluffy. WB is veering away from anything un-preppy.
That leaves UPN. And by gum, they did it right.
Now watch it. Please? MTV is re-aring it.