Monday, May 08, 2006

(Don't) Watch Veronica Mars!

Not that the paltry number of hits that T!YBE receives is enough to prop up its sagging viewership (I'm up to 20 a day!), but watch Veronica Mars. Actually, don't, because the show is currently in the middle of a big reveal of its season-long mystery, and it's also complicating the resolution of season 1's mystery. So, unless you want to be spoiled out of the most compelling serial storytelling on TV anywhere, don't watch this show right now.

Instead, queue the season 1 DVD on your Netflix. What I can tell you is that the show is set in the fictional town of Neptune (look on a fictional map and you'll find it next to San Diego) and focuses on Veronica Mars, the sharp high school junior whose best friend Lilly Kane was murdered. Meanwhile, Veronica and her father Keith live on the wrong side of tracks (mother Mars skipped out under mysterious circumstances), and to make ends meet, Veronica takes side jobs out of her father's PI office.

If all that sounds like a dysfunctional Nancy Drew for the new millennium, you'll happily discover that Veronica Mars rises above such a facile comparison. The show mixes snappy screwball dialogue with fully realized characters, noirishly labyrinthine plots with unflinching stories about date rape, class stratification and family drama. While such a melange of genres sounds fatally incompatible, Veronica Mars never veers off too far in a single direction: the heady topics the show grapples with toughens the show against comparisons to Nancy Drew, while the snappy dialogue never permits the atmosphere to slide into the oppressive abyss of self-importance. And before you write off the show for possibly being sentimental, know that sometimes the rich kids are justifiably vindicated, and sometimes the poor kids are no better than street-level thugs; so rather than a show that redistributed sympathy inverse to his/her wealth purely out of liberal guilt, Veronica Mars complicates its characters into something deep, and despite the mannered and stylized acting, despite the noirishly outlandish high-school-on-steroids melodrama, the Veronica Mars approaches the reality in a way more real than real life.

Indie rating: The Dandy Warhols - "We Used to be Friends"

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