Friday, October 14, 2005

Veronica Mars

As far as one-hour-dramas go, I don't hardly watch none. I trust that Lost would be good if I saw it, but the premise doesn't grab me and getting teased with never-solved mysteries sounds irritating. I've only seen the pilot of Desperate Housewives, but I found it unbearably smarmy and pretentious. The funny parts were funny, but the drama felt forced and obnoxious and drenched in self-pity. And actually, I was never really sure if the funny parts were supposed to be funny or if I was just laughing at the drama. Probably both, so it was hard to tell. It felt like it was trying very hard to be American Beauty with women. Maybe it's gotten better but it blew its chance with me.

My point is that Veronica Mars is an excellent show. Most episodes have self-contained mysteries so that first-time viewers will come away satisfied, while ongoing plotlines are dealt with in ever-deepening subplots. Best of all, the big mysteries actually get solved at the end of the season and are replaced with new ones.

The DVD of the first season just came out, so if that's the way you like to absorb shows, pick it up or add it to your Netflix.

The second season is a little weird so far, but things are still reeling from the climactic events of last season's finale and the turbulent events that took place over the summer (according to flashbacks in the season opener). Still, the show is finding its groove and, in addition to its routine pleasures, every episode still packs a punch of a reveal that deepens the mysteries.

For those already watching (Sarah), my favorite moments of the season so far [SEASON TWO SPOILERS, but only for already aired episodes]:

-The bus accident. It was not spoiled for me and I did not see it coming. Sudden, jarring, very much an oh-shit moment. There has been some criticism of Duncan's underreaction but I was too much in shock to notice. And the song that brought the scene home is here. I don't know if I'd like it as much if I didn't associate it with the show, but I thought it worked very well very the strange mood of that scene. Found through this blog, which does its best to identify each episode's soundtrack. Which is also generally quite good.

-All the moments with Beaver (I mean, Cassidy). Poor kid has such a pathetic expression all the time and your heart just goes out to him. I love the scene where his dad scares him and makes him spill the popcorn and Cassidy doesn't even say anything--it's not funny but he's used to putting up with this shit all the time, and then he finds the condom wrapper and this powerless character now has a very powerful piece of information. The music here was good too. All the moments I like are underscored with excellent music choices that give them just the right build.

-The dead guy on the beach, obviously.

-The scene where Dick Casablacas, Sr. makes a George-Bluth-Sr. escape ("Shred everything!"). It's so sad. Cassidy tried to help his father and destroyed his family, and his dad still couldn't give a shit about him. He watches his father leave, still not quite understanding what he's done. Great dramatic irony and it's kind of heartbreaking. I barely noticed this character last season (of course, he wasn't a regular then), but I really like him now.

There are others, of course--Logan is always good. His confrontation with Duncan last ep was a highlight. The brief hint of tears at the end of the scene--very well acted.

However, am I the only Veronica Mars fan who's no longer impressed with Kevin Smith? Ha ha, yes, he's playing a clerk. Maybe that would be funnier if Smith didn't actually go back to that convenience store so much you'd think he still worked there. And besides, when Smith is willing to pimp himself out for a limp, pointless cameo on the season premiere of Joey, I think it's safe to say his hip indie cred is spent. There is no cache to be had here. That said, his performance here was okay. If he hadn't lost my respect by retreating to safe, worn-out territory as soon as unfortunate circumstances rendered his first post-Askewniverse film a flop, I might have even enjoyed it.

END SPOILERS

Anyway, still a great show. A tad more uneven than last year, but it's smoothing out now. Besides, now they've got even more balls in the air, and it promises to be an impressive ride.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

For hourlong dramas, I watch Lost, Alias, Everwood, and, of course, Veronica Mars. Lost's premise and lack of answers is annoying, Alias doesn't seem to know what it's doing this season, Everwood is schmalzy and I'm ashamed I like it, and Veronica Mars is, well, good. I watched Desperate Housewives for about four episodes last season, and it annoyed the crap out of me (it annoys the crap out of me more for being classified as a comedy when it's totally not).

As for Kevin Smith, I thought he did a good job in his role as a self-absorbed attention-whore clerk. That being said, was it acting?

I'm sorry I never got you that tape, Kenny. By the time I remembered that I was supposed to send you one, I think they had already reaired the finale.

Finally, I wasn't spoiled for that, either. It was really rather excellent. And Cassidy's a good character. The actor's hang-dog expression is really great. I just want to pat him on the head and say, "There, there."