Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"How is it you have so many friends? You don't even like people.": Veronica Mars

So. After overcoming my initial surprise at this show still existing and being broadcast over the commercial airwaves (seriously, how long has it been?), I settled in to judge just how well this arc-less experiment would work. Now, Alan Sepinwall says next week's episode is pretty great (and with Paul Rudd, how couldn't it be?), but this first attempt at doing an episode where there was no big mystery hanging over everyone was hit and miss.

The biggest problem was that the mystery -- an Arab family wanted to find out who had defaced their business with the word TERRORISTS -- just wasn't that great. Veronica has never been your classical get-everyone-in-a-drawing-room-and-sort-em-out kind of detective, but her lack of Clue-esque shenanigans was always balanced out by the big, overarching mysteries and the soap opera angst. Now, all we have to cut to are Keith B-stories and soap opera angst, and the flaws in the central mysteries are more palpable.

That's not to say that the mystery here couldn't be salvaged -- just that it was the least interesting part of the episode. And if you're going to do a show about a college girl detective, you really have to hit all three of those parts equally or the show falls apart. It didn't help that the mystery had some of the worst speechifying this show has seen. Veronica Mars often takes pains to make everyone who's a suspect have a believable and occasionally sympathetic motive, but it rarely has them make speeches about their positions. Who wanted to hear the perpetrator issue some of the most cliched "my brother was injured in Iraq!" dialogue, followed by the Arab business owner talking about his ideal of the American dream? This might have worked on The West Wing or something, but it clashed with what we understand to be Veronica Mars.

The soap opera stuff wasn't quite as on as it has been, though I'll officially toss my hat in the ring as the only denizen of the Internets who genuinely likes the Piz and Veronica pairing. Maybe it's because Piz is a fast-talking nerd (like someone I know) and not the brooding bad boy that is Logan, but I like the different energy he and Veronica have when compared to the practically gothic Logan/Veronica pairing. I'm not as fond of the Parker/Logan pairing, just because Parker's not as interesting of a character as Piz (she really feels like someone who was gradually trimmed down as the season went on), so I wasn't invested in all of the scenes trying to prove that Logan and Parker were totally in love FOR ALL TIME. As for Mac flirting with test provider guy, well. . .I like Mac. And, look, I KNOW Piz is on the Grey's Anatomy spinoff. I know that he wouldn't be back in the unlikely event of a fourth season. But I can dream, kids! I can dream!

The one thing that was an unqualified success was the Keith subplot, involving him culling out the police officers who weren't loyal to him by cracking down on fake IDs (and running afoul of his own daughter and her friends in the process). The plot was amusing and well-paced, and it gave Wallace, Piz and Keith all something to do, something I was concerned about in this arc-less world. The plot just proved that Enrico Colantoni is perfect in this role. As David said, it's sad that he'll never find anything that uses him as well as this role does. If anything, Veronica Mars should come back just so we can get a little more Keith Mars.

Am I right?


David Sims said...

Well, Ausiello mentioned he was on board with Pizonica (yeah, I love writing that), so you're not alone. Piz is a fun guy, after all! But the writers aren't kidding anyone.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Ausiello exists in the real world. I exist only on the Internet. Hence the qualifier.

David Sims said...

You always have to have the last word, don't you?

Todd VanDerWerff said...


Libby said...

Both of you shut up and get me a sandwich.