Veronica Mars: Season 1
February 7, 2006
Veronica Mars is one of those TV shows that flies under the mainstream radar to become a critics darling. Along with Alias, it is a show that wouldn’t have seen the light of day if it hadn’t been for Buffy the Vampire Slayer which proved that a genre show with a smart, strong-willed female protagonist could work and find an audience. The verdict is still out on Veronica Mars audience-wise as it has suffered low ratings during its first season and barely survived to a second. Now, for those wondering why critics are falling all over themselves praising this show can see what the fuss is all about with this box set that collects all the episodes from season one.
Veronica Mars (Bell) is a high school student that was once part of the popular clique and is now an outcast when her boyfriend (Dunn), one of the most popular kids at school, broke up with her. Veronica’s best friend (and her ex-boyfriend’s sister) was mysterious murdered and her dad (Colantoni), then sheriff, went after the wrong man – the dead girl’s father (Secor), a rich billionaire. Her dad subsequently lost his job, the fall guy for the bungled case. Veronica’s mom left them and her dad became a private investigator. Veronica stuck by him through it all and works as his assistant in her spare time. Over time she’s become convinced that her father was right all along and pursues the case.
Like Buffy, Veronica Mars is set in a small, California town with a cute, blond girl as the show’s protagonist. Veronica is a strong character – she’s tough enough to stand up to the local biker gang and smart enough to talk her way out of a potentially violent confrontation with them. She’s also smart enough to pull fast ones on the popular kids – especially Logan Echolls (Dohring), a nasty bully. She also figures out a way to stick it to the new sheriff so that the new kid at school, Percy (Daggs III), doesn’t get terrorized by Weevil (Capra) and his gang.
Kristen Bell is well cast as the sarcastic smart-ass with a serious Nancy Drew streak. Feeling like an outsider, Veronica champions the underdog which sets her in direct opposition with her former friends, the popular rich kids. But as a former member of their clique there is always the question, does she want to find a way back into their world or did those instincts die when she saw her best friend dead and her dad reduced to a laughing stock? The rest of the cast is very good as well and it is so nice to see Enrico Colantoni back on TV screens after the premature demise of Just Shoot Me as Veronica’s good-natured and understanding father.
Show creator Rob Thomas does an excellent job of setting up all of these characters, the relationships between them and the world they inhabit. On the surface, the sun-kissed California setting and abundance of rich kids would make the show just another O.C. wannabe (Paris Hilton even makes an appearance in an episode) but there is an underlying darkness that gives the show an edge. It’s the brutal murder of Veronica’s best friend or the unknown person who date-raped Veronica at a party that provides the serious tone to the sunny atmosphere. Hopefully, Veronica Mars will find a larger audience this season and survive for years to come and not be relegated to the “TV too good for TV” graveyard of brilliant but unpopular shows.
A longer version of the “Pilot” episode is available on this set as are a collection of deleted scenes for various episodes.