Friday, June 19, 2009

Veronica Mars

This is something I've wanted to write about in here for quite a long time - one of my absolute favorite TV shows, Veronica Mars. Is this a review? An endorsement? A ridiculous ramble? Yes. Yes to all.

No doubt my rank of "favorite TV shows" has some serious competition. Sex and the City gives me the most pleasure. Queer as Folk gets me the most engrossed and draws the most tears. Twin Peaks is the most fascinating and stunningly constructed, Arrested Development makes me laugh the most, and House...well, my feelings about that show need a whole series of posts of their own. But this show unquestionably has my heart.

The show is about teen PI Veronica Mars, played to perfection by Kristen Bell. While the ensemble cast is, at least up until the third season, uniformly great, the entire show hinges on Veronica in a way I've only ever seen on House. All the humor, heartbreak, drama, thrills, heart, and soul - and there is a great deal of all - is tied up in Veronica. Veronica herself has been through hells that few teenagers, let alone the kinds TV shows are made about, can imagine. In the year before the show starts, her best friend was brutally murdered; her dad, the sheriff, accused her wealthy and powerful father of the murder, making Veronica into the social pariah to end all social pariahs and getting her father eventually kicked out of office. Her mother abandons the family, and after attending a party, Pretty in Pink style, "to show them they haven't broken me," Veronica is raped, to which the local law enforcement does nothing.

Here is Bell as Veronica.

The really fascinating thing about Veronica, though, is how little that previous paragraph actually sums up about her character. Veronica is bitter, whip-smart, savvy, sexy, and a perky, petite, blonde, straight-A student who dresses like a West Coast preppy girl. She has a cutting quip for every single situation and she will ruin your life if you cross her. She is intensely, fiercely loyal, hilarious, and utterly adorable.

Another interesting thing is how, over the course of the first two seasons, we see just how many allies Veronica does have, and how she brings other loners into her life. Her compassionate, protective dad with whom she is allied against the world; Wallace, the laid-back, basketball genius new kid, who quickly becomes her best friend; a hot-and-cold ex-boyfriend, Duncan, who would obviously still do anything in the world for her; Mac, a funky, deadpan computer geek and fellow outsider; Meg, one of the few popular rich girls who still treats Veronica like a human being; Leo, a sweet rookie cop who adores her; Eli "Weevil" Navarro, the motorcycle gang leader and juvenile delinquent who loves his grandma and has some of the funniest, wittiest lines of the show; and, increasingly, Logan Echolls, the troubled, destructive rich kid who lives and breathes for Veronica.

I have a great deal more to say about Logan (and the other characters, but Logan especially), but that'll have to wait. This is Veronica's moment.

Bell with Enrico Colantoni, who plays her father, Keith Mars:

(They're not always this sickeningly adorable together, but they often are.)

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