April 10, 2006TV ON DVD
Veronica Mars, With Fresh Eyes
Film noir has morphed. It is, in fact, not noir any more, but quite colorful and bright, and it has come to a television set near you. Veronica Mars, girl detective extraordinaire is the modern day Nancy Drew, here to solve mysteries of all sorts if you can pay the price (perhaps the equivalent of a hotel room for a fugitive) or happen to be a close friend of hers (ex-close friends included in the list). Her real mission in life, though, is her quest to solve her best friend's murder, perhaps one of the few dim spots in sunny Neptune, the posh little suburb of San Diego where people either are millionaires or work for millionaires.
True, there have been other tough girls on TV. There's the ubiquitous Buffy Summers, for instance, who dusts vampire butt on a regular basis. It really is rather difficult to stay away from the Buffy comparisons, particularly since the heroines are somewhat similar. Yet while BtVS (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for those not in the know) had deeper hidden (and sometimes, not-quite-so-hidden) themes about adolescence and the high school years, Veronica Mars is primarily a whodunnit, and unapologetically so. Veronica's position as the secretary (read: junior partner) in her father's new private investigation firm gives her access to all sorts of information that most seventeen year-olds are not privy to. She uses this position to both acquire and use this information in any way she can, legal or not, to help her solve her cases; above all, the murder of Lilly Kane.
|Most of the actions taken by our blonde heroine are somehow related to her single-minded determination to solve the murder her way, and not with the bumbling, slapdash methods of the new sheriff, who wastes no time in thumbing his nose at his old superior while fumbling his way through simple cases.|
The best segments of the show are the scenes where Veronica solves one of her mysteries. The viewer gets to learn just how many different kinds of "bad guys" there are in the world, (these people can be anybody, from your run-of-the-mill crook to a well-meaning parent simply wanting their son to have the best possible chance at a full-ride scholarship to the university of his choice); and just how innovative a determined detective can get while coming up with methods to hunt her quarry. The snarky comebacks and the occasional pearls of wisdom are bonuses that move the show up a notch from average to good.
After hearing about this show from various friends [Not to mention finding hundreds of different VM images for this site! -Liz], and steadfastly avoiding any and all mention of it through sheer stubbornness, I was finally coerced into watching. I have to admit that if I hadn't heard all the hype about it, I might have enjoyed the show a lot more. As it was, I went into the screening of it with an "if they say it's that good, it had better be that good" attitude. Alas, it did not quite live up to the hype for me.
|While perfect for people who have watched the show and merely want a Veronica Mars marathon, such watching does little for a first timer watching the show.|
Considering the new interactive form of watching television, where fans log online to forums and message boards to discuss the latest and greatest in the episode of the week, my form of watching was lacking in that particular social aspect. Perhaps that also contributed to how blasˇ I felt towards the show. Watching it straight through did not allow for further speculations. While my friends had a week to ponder and discuss and theorize as to Lilly's murderer and other plotlines in the show, I had mere minutes while the DVDs spun through my DVD player.
Overall, it is an enjoyable ride with a thriller of an ending. Downsides include the teenage angst and accompanying emotional drama so rife in the hormone-driven adolescent setting. Oh, high school, those were the days. The keyword in the previous sentence is the word "were." All shows set in high school seem to require some sort of romantic entanglement, and we get one here. Will Veronica get back with her former boyfriend, and Lilly's brother, Duncan? Or will she end up more than just lip-locking with the spoilt son of a Hollywood actor?
|The other romantic subplot, however, does allow for a little comedy to seep into a somewhat serious show. Watching Veronica and best friend Wallace deal with their parents' budding relationship is relatable and at times, hilarious.|
So what's the verdict on our new (relatively speaking, that is) teenage girl-detective? It's fresh, witty and well-done. It is, ultimately a show is about the quest for truth. They say that the truth will set you free, and perhaps it does, but sometimes, it can also open a whole new closet of bones that you didn't mean to unearth. The DVD set itself is uncluttered. There are about 20 minutes of unaired scenes, and an extended pilot, but no cast commentaries or other goodies and add-ons that accompany other DVDs. The merit of the show speaks for itself, and makes watching the DVDs worth a shot if you haven't already. Just make sure you do it with a group of friends, and break out the popcorn while you're at it.
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