Sunday, August 19, 2012

TV Series Review: Veronica Mars (season one)

I had my way I would've started watching this show right after Life on Mars just for the fact that both shows have "Mars" in the title but sadly neither my school library nor Netflix streaming had the show available for me. But the college library near my home did so I spent all summer watching the show bit by bit (curse their two-dvds-at-a-time limit) and wow do I wish I had watched this show years ago.

Veronica Mars (season one)

Summary: In the town of Neptune there are only two kinds of people, the millionares and the people who work for them. Well, and Veronica Mars, daughter of the town's sheriff which gave her an in with the popular crowd, until her boyfriend dumped her, his sister/her best friend was murdered, and her dad was driven out of office by going after their father and he rallied the town against them. Now Veronica is stuck between those two worlds and instead of being on the pep squad she now assists her dad with his private detective business while she takes on cases of her own from classmates on the side. But recently some new things about her friend Lily's murder have come to light, among others things, and Veronica is finding out that her town has even more secrets that she would have bargained for.

The Good: This show does an amazing number of things right, from the balance of when Veronica is at school and when she's out (I've seen so many stories forget that high school students are, you know, in school for almost 40 hours a week), broke plenty of stereotypes and tropes all over the place and made the show feel a hell of a lot more realistic that way (from the cult one to the episode involving a substitute newspaper teacher). Veronica is an interesting, I'd even say  likable, character but it's very obvious that she's already broken by the time the series starts and that she's trying to figure out how to put herself back together, which I personally prefer to a story that spends more time breaking it's characters than putting them back together. The other reoccurring characters were surprisingly well fleshed out, there are adults who don't stay on the sidelines in order to let the younger characters tell a story, Lily's death has affected over half the cast (one or two of which might be even more broken than Veronica) and Lily herself ends up being very well fleshed out for being, well, dead before the story even began. The show also does a very good job at weaving in details about the overarching mystery in the smaller cases Veronica and her dad take on and it all ties itself together in the end very well.

The Bad: Since this caught me really off-guard I'll say it up front, the ending to this season is a bit abrupt in places and, according to wikipedia (I was convinced something was wrong with my disc so I had to look things up) the remaining threads will be wrapped up in the next season. So while everything comes together, what's revealed in the final episode isn't itself wrapped up (and for once I was mistaken about the episode count so the show was even able to catch me off guard with the ending). That's my only real complaint about the series, since Veronica will still be in high school in the next season there's more than a chance that various side characters will show up again and get more character development (I was confused why wikipedia listed Mac as a main character when she didn't have a lot of screen time compared to many other characters), overall the show made very good use of it's runtime when it came to developing characters. 

The Audio: The show's catchy opening theme is actually the shortened version of an already existing song "We Used to be Friends" by The Dandy Warhols which surprised me, the lyrics fit the show so well ("we used to be friends/a long time ago") that I had assumed it was created specifically for the opening. The rest of the music didn't stand out to be as much, although I did like the music used in the ending credits as well, but given how catchy this opening is I think I can be excused.

The Visuals: The actors do look a bit old to be highschool students but only people who are around high school students on a regular basis are going to notice that, I didn't until I saw someone who looked very similar to Lily Kane and realized that she was technically older than Lily is in the show yet looked much younger.

I could have written even more things about this show I loved (like how Veronica likes multiple guys and she's NOT portrayed as a whore, or the subplot involving her mom) but I didn't want to go on even longer, let it suffice to say that I fell hard for this show and I was wondering why I didn't try out this show earlier. A look at the show's air dates clears that one up, it would've started airing late middle school/early high school for me and even if I had seen the show then I don't think I would've connected with it as strongly. But in any case, this is a great, engaging, gripping, smart story that I really recommend to anyone who has any tolerance for realistic fiction/stories involving high school students. I should probably include a trigger warning for rape so just be careful if that applies to anyone (I'd be willing to post in the comments which episodes to look out for if anyone wanted me to).

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