Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Oh, I don't know. I find solving an investigation very relaxing.": Veronica Mars

I'm of two minds about this episode -- I really liked a lot of it, but I found some of it to be pretty ham-handed. We'll look at both ends here.

First things first, though. I'm not horribly worried about V. Mars going to standalone mysteries anymore. These last two episodes have been all but standalone mysteries, and the mysteries have been better written now that the writers have to focus on the smaller mysteries themselves. I daresay that last week's stolen monkey and this week's find-me-the-hooker-I-fell-in-love-with storylines were the best mysteries of the week the show has done. The suspects and other ancillary characters were quickly developed (and well-developed), and they allowed Veronica to show all sides of her personality -- from flinty to flirty (and, no, I can't believe I just wrote that).

The missing hooker plotline (which twisted and turned both intelligently and wittily) relied on the strong performances of a couple of guest stars (Adam Rose and Brianne Davis), and the guests made their storyline emotionally affecting, even though it was the old hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold plot you've heard a million times before. What made it different from Pretty Woman was that the guy couldn't, in the end, forgive the girl her past transgressions, and the story ended in heartbreak. Not the most original plotline ever, but Rose and Davis sold it. Veronica Mars' guest stars can be a little over-obvious sometimes, but the casting department found some good ones for this episode.

While the mystery of the week and the humorous quips worked this week, I wasn't sure about some of the things Veronica did to keep the plot moving. I liked that she extorted the judge (it pays to let us remember every once in a while that Veronica's not the world's most moral person), but I didn't buy that she would just go to the locker like that without scoping out the joint or get in a limo with a threatening man without making a backup plan. I know the girl's headstrong, but she's not terminally stupid.

The Veronica/Logan stuff was about as good as it could have been, especially as it tied into the main mystery (learning how much you can trust a lover). It was nice to see the two behaving like a normal couple, but I'm tired of the endless twists and turns in their relationship. Either keep them as goofy kids in love or break them up and go back to the prickly attraction that fueled the back half of season one. Don't throw constant plot contrivances in their way. Please?

What really didn't work for me this episode was the interaction between Veronica and Keith, which felt forced and hammy. Usually, you can count on the father/daughter scenes to keep even the worst episodes afloat, but this episode was unusual. I guess when the mystery of the week is the strongest element, this has to be uneven to compensate or something. Furthermore, I didn't really need the flashback to the rape plotline either, and I especially didn't need the return to that plotline's weakest element -- the militant feminists. (I actually agree with Rob Thomas that he's earned some leeway in how he portrays the feminists just thanks to the character of Veronica, but everything about this bunch was cloying and over-obvious from the first.)

But, all in all, this last handful of episodes has been really strong. Here's to a Veronica Mars that finds a way to tell stand-alone stories that are as compelling as the big mysteries of these last seasons. And here's to ratings that weren't totally decimated by House!


David Sims said...

Now, I thought Ronnie blackmailing a judge was borderline ridiculous. Why would she EVER do something so stupid, and on such a whim?

But I'm with you on the feminists. I definitely groaned when they showed up again. Ugh. No thank you.

I think I disagree on Keith/Ronnie, too? What grated you about their interactions?

Todd VanDerWerff said...

I'm of two minds about the extortion -- it's sort of ridiculous that she jumped there straight off, but it's also a handy way to remind us that she doesn't always think things through if she's in a pinch.

Keith's singing was just. . .embarrassing, for lack of a better word, and I don't know that I needed the image of Veronica thrusting her hips at her dad in my mind for the rest of my life. Bell and Colantoni have such a nice chemistry that they're oft tempted to go over the top. Unfortunately, they did in this one.

David Sims said...

Ha, I actually laughed at the singing. The hip-thrusting was certainly not required.

And I get showing Veronica as reckless, but because there were no real repercussions, it didn't play off well to me. But, I liked the episode a lot! And I think playing out the mystery quietly in the background is fine, too.