Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"A girl, a teenager, and a private detective. I'm a triple threat.": Veronica Mars

With the news coming that Veronica Mars is fighting its direst cancellation battle yet, it was hard to watch Tuesday night's episode and really concentrate on what was (ultimately) a rather anemic storyline. Instead, it became easier and easier to watch the show and think about what would be missed if it did go. Increasingly, the plotting of the show is haphazard (I really couldn't be bothered by the story of an impossibly virtuous book author, who turned out to be a fraud and then turned out to be. . .impossibly virtuous), but the dialogue and character writing is sharp. I know some fans are turned off by some of Veronica's behavior this season, but I'm still enjoying both the way the character is written and Kristen Bell's performance as her. I think the writers are still trying to figure out how to write standalone mysteries (the standalones in the second arc with the dean's murder were more interesting), but I'm not sure they care right now. Perhaps they're just trying to hang on to what they liked about the show and writing character moments they enjoy. Hey, it happens.

Anyway, the episode itself had its moments. I didn't buy the whole storyline with the author, who told his story of being a child soldier in Uganda. The whole thing screamed very special episode, right down to the PSA at the end where we were informed that we should go check out the Invisible Children site. Although this was a fine impulse and the issue is one that Americans could know more about, it clashed with the show's central ethos, which states that you can't really trust anyone because the whole world is full of liars and cheats. If the author had TRULY stolen the story from someone whose life really was that hard, that would have been a good way to call attention to the issue AND be true to Veronica Mars as we know it. Instead, the episode seemed like it was trying to have it both ways, which just didn't work.

Meanwhile, the show's love triangles spun their wheels for a week with Wallace popping up only to offer Veronica romantic advice on not breaking Piz's heart (though Keith sure seems to like the guy). I'm a fan of Piz, but his dilemma over choosing the lame internship to be with Veronica or the awesome internship to do something he loved felt like a false choice, simply because we know the show won't end with him and Veronica together (her joy over getting the FBI internship was palpable, though, and a good way to hedge bets if, indeed, the show comes back four years in the future with the FBI storyline).

Meanwhile, Logan and Parker's story feels played out, largely because the two don't have a ton of chemistry and we just don't know Parker very well (it seems as though she was brought into the show to give Veronica even more of a personal connection to the campus rapist, but then no one knew what to do with her). The Mac/Max pairing was marginally more successful, particularly Mac's fear that she would end up selling family heirlooms on eBay with the way she was ignoring class for the guy. I like all of Veronica's friends, and I really wish that the show had found a way to afford them being in more episodes, particularly Mac and Wallace.

And that was pretty much that. Next week, we have the two-hour season finale, and we may have a better idea of if it's a series finale or not. Are you at all wishing to see Veronica Mars at the FBI or are you over this show entirely?


David Sims said...

I do agree that the show is fizzling somewhat (Paul Rudd being an exception), but I blame both the college environment, which has never really worked for the show, and all the screwing around with the format, which probably meant Rob Thomas had to yank some one-shot episodes ideas out of a hat pretty fast.

I'd love to see the show get renewed as an FBI show, because I think the college format had the irritating effect of separating all of the characters, and just flinging a handful in each episode. Also, it didn't have the Veronica-against-the-world feel that high school did. Ausiello is currently saying that VM won't be on the CW's Thursday sched, but could still get a last-second pickup. I don't buy it.

Filipe said...

I actually thought the rapist arc worked well, the who killed the dean arc suffered for being at least two episodes too short and these stand-alones a complete mess with some nice character moments thrown in. The college setting never worked very mostly because Thomas never manage to a good job builting Hearst as a noir-like enviroment lie he did with the high school. There were some attempts at this at the early arc and them nothing. The show setting got complete generic (Buffy 4th season suffered from the same problem). And the who killed the dean arc removed the two only interesting new carachters (the dean itself and the teacher), which certainly didn't help. Parker should never being made a regular, they should had use her for the first arc and them let she become background while her sallary went to make Mac and Wallace show up in more eps.

I got the feeling that the show is dead and Ausiello is just helping Thomas spin things till the season/series finale.

Carrie said...

I am so torn about Veronica Mars. I want to spend more time with these characters but the show is increasingly more anemic as the weeks go on. They still have hilarious dialogue and do little moments well, but overall it is lacking the danger and darkness that used to make Neptune such a compelling place.

Now...as for the previews of the last two episodes. I hate to reveal my shipper heart because it is embarrassing, but if this show ends with Veronica and Logan not speaking to each other at all I will be sad. They don't have to be together, but if they hate each other I think that would be a sad way to remember a once very interesting and dynamic TV couple.

David Sims said...

I think you're right about the setting, filipe, and it is very similar to Buffy in season 4 (slightly aimless feel, college more of a background than a real character like the high school was). And as you said, all the recurring characters they set up basically got eaten up by the arcs (the first of which did not work, the second of which did work, but wasn't that arresting).

And Carrie, I think (from the little I've heard) Ronnie and Logan are going to go out on a sort of open-ended note. I really have almost no idea, but I think that's how it's gonna be.

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