Monday, October 02, 2006

"Is she also a cartoon character?": Veronica Mars, season three

If you don't watch the third season premiere of Veronica Mars tonight (9 p.m. EDT/PDT, 8 p.m. CDT/MDT), I will come to your house and bite you.

No. Really. I will.

It's sort of too easy to say that Ms. Mars is the heir to the Buffy throne -- what with her snappy quips and her platinum blonde locks and her tendency to have the entire world kick her around at all moments -- but that's a little too easy. Three seasons into its run, Veronica Mars is its own show, having completely emerged from the shadow of a show that seems to be an obvious forebear (even though it's not).

If you thought season two was too complicated and slow-moving, season three will be an improvement for you, what with its easier-to-follow big mystery and stronger emphasis on the mystery-of-the-week. If you like the show's scabrous sense of humor, you're going to like how much more scabrous it can be. And if you've never seen the show, jump on in. You're going to be fine. Most of the stuff that was too mythology-based, that made the show hard to jump in to has been eschewed.

The first 20 minutes of the first episode are full of funny jokes, but they might be a little slow for Veronica Mars alums, constructed as they are to ease in Gilmore Girls fans with the show's slightly over-the-top universe (if you want grounded reality, Friday Night Lights debuts tomorrow night too). The last 20 minutes, however, kick the season's first big mystery into gear and let the established characters bounce off of each other in new ways, while smoothly incorporating new characters into the show's milieu.

Most series that go to college falter because they never make college a part of the show's universe. VM does that and then some, simply because college offers more opportunity for petty crime than high school ever did. Plus, secret societies and the like are a bigger part of the college world.

Check it out tonight. Love it. Or I'll bite you.

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