Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Venus and Mars Are Alright Tonight, Dept.

Having finished season one of Veronica Mars, I can offer you, Gentle Reader, some thoughts on this well-loved "cult" show.  There may be spoilers ahead, but, hey, the show aired nine years ago.  Don't make me tell you about Rosebud and Luke's father and the chick in The Crying Game.
  1. VM is like Buffy.  A girl in a California high school who solves problems even as she's...different from the other kids.  Both have gangs of sorts who help them solve these problems.  Both come from single-parent homes.  Both are virgins or near-virgins when we meet them.  Both have issues with intimacy.  Both have a father figure to advise them.
  2. VM is not at all like Buffy.  Veronica is all intellect and no physicality.  Where Buffy solves her crimes by staking a vamp or two, Veronica gets all Nancy Drew at Raymond Chandler's on their asses.  Where Buffy's Scooby Gang has several women playing key roles, Willow foremost among them, Veronica has no close female friends in season one.  As the cover above shows, all of the other principals in the show are males.  Three of the above have some sexual interest in/tension with Veronica.
  3. VM is a user.  She manipulates or deceives every other character on the show every episode.  It become a running joke for her and Wallace (black dude above), as she always asks him to get someone's file out of their high school's admin offices.  She bugs, follows, hacks, taps people without a warrant or a second thought.  She does so with noble intent, but of course--she's trying to solve the foundational mystery of season one: who killed her best friend?  But in doing so, she reveals herself as utterly unintimidated by conventional notions of ethics and propriety, lying, withholding, misleading without remorse or hesitation.
  4. VM has some sex issues.  Having lost her maidenhood under the influence of a roofie that wiped her memory of the event (quest #2), she swaps spit with abandon, but nobody gets Baby to third base.
  5. VM is fiercely loyal to those whom she favors with loyalty, but woe betide you if you're on the wrong side of the fence.  Any and everyone whom she has to give up, drop a dime on, cut loose or otherwise fuck over in the name of her friends, father and dog, she will and does.
  6. VM has Mommy issues.  She spends most of the first season looking for the mother (quest #3) who abandoned her and her father after his career as sheriff went to shit when he appeared to have bungled the investigation of VM's friend's death.  But, then, well, see #5 above.
As mentioned above, season one, like those of Twin Peaks and Desperate Housewives, turns on the death of a character who appears and reappears in flashback and fantasy to guide our hero(ine) to enlightenment and resolution.  In this case, Amanda Seyfried, pre-Mamma Mia! and as juicy as an August peach, plays Veronica's sexy incandescent doomed pal.  In fact, she tends to blow VM off the screen whenever she appears, despite the fact that Kristen Bell is a cutie-patootie of no mean magnitude.  Her Lilly Kane is all id, libido and impulse, ignored by, and resentful of, her parents, who favor their fair-haired son who's expected to go into politics or somehow, someway become a Great Man. 

The mystery of the death of Lilly Kane is solved by the season finale, so I don't know where season two goes.  But I would recommend season one to anyone who loves mysteries; spunky, manipulative girl detectives; indie rock soundtracks; and snappy patter.  And the relationship between VM and her P.I. father (played by Enrico Colantoni, whom I knew from Just Shoot Me!) is lovely.

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