The Best Show You Never Saw: Veronica Mars – by Lucy Watson
If you spend a bit of time online, you may have heard about Veronica Mars, an old 00s TV series that recently received a record amount of donations on Kickstarter for it to be revived in motion picture form.
This broke ground for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it was the first time an audience of diehard fans had resurrected a beloved, and unceremoniously cancelled TV show, thus sidestepping the power of the studios altogether. Studios who had several years to finance the reboot, but thought there was not enough interest to make it worthwhile. Studios who are now eating their words, and watching with interest to see what happens next.
But back to Veronica Mars, the series. Why, if this show is so beloved, have you never seen it? Because, despite being critically acclaimed, with a dedicated cult following, it was never a huge ratings success.
The mystifying vagaries of what makes a show a hit, a cult favourite, or drop noiselessly in the abyss of forgotten television are beyond me. Sometimes it’s a matter of distribution, timing, programming slot, and very rarely a question of quality. After all, Freaks and Geeks, the show that launched the careers of Judd Apatow, Jason Segel, Martin Starr and a little known actor called James Franco, was cancelled after just one series (another Kickstarter project perhaps?) despite being fantastic, and Two & a Half Men continues like the proverbial unflushable turd. It even managed to survive after its star, Charlie Sheen, was publicly dumped in a wave of expletives.
I know that when someone first mentioned the show Veronica Mars to me, I thought it sounded a bit naff. A bit “girly high school”. A bit Sabrina the teenage witch, but without the talking cat. But I was assured, and as the recommendation came from a friend whose taste was very reliable, I took the DVD of season 1 home. And it sat on my desk for a month unwatched.
Finally, episodes of something I was watching at the time ran out, and I thought, alright, I’ll give it a go. And thus the great Veronica Mars addiction of January 2012 was born. I voraciously watched all 2 and a half seasons, even though my friend had warned me that season 3 gets cut off half way through. Be careful, she said. You won’t get resolution!
And she was right. It ended, without an ending. A great big gaping hole in my TV viewing schedule, and in my need for an ending for my new favourite fictional characters.
So why is it the best show you’ve never watched? And why should you get on board before the film comes out?
1. Veronica. Possibly, no probably, the most kick ass female character ever written. And certainly the best high school girl role ever created. She’s smart. The smartest person in the room. She’s funny, doesn’t take shit from anyone, never does what she’s told. She doesn’t care if she’s an outcast, she says what she thinks. She’s also pretty hot, and often dates the hottest guy in the school, but not because it makes her popular. She is loyal, and passionate, and sexy – even though she’s mostly wearing flared jeans (hello early 00s!) and a t-shirt. And she finds the answer to any question. Always.
2. Clever writing. For a show set in a high school, not only is it pretty high brow, with twists, and turns, and real mysteries and cliff hangers, but the characters are three dimensional. You believe their relationships. You care about what happens to them. Which lifts it from being just a noir detective series, set in a high school (which is pretty cool in itself), to something even better.
3. A great tumultuous love story. Veronica has many great love interests, which simmer along in the background of the many plots and storylines. They’re all pretty enjoyable, but there’s one that you can’t help but want to work out. I won’t tell you which one, but trust me, there’s never a dull moment.
4. Excellent adult characters. Although a great proportion of the show is set in Neptune High, the cast of external “grown ups” also make it exceptional: Veronica’s Dad, Detective Keith Mars, played by the brilliant Enrico Colantoni (Just Shoot Me); the smarmy sheriff Lamb; the slimy rival detective Vinnie Van Lowe; and an unexpectedly great performance from Harry Hamlin as movie star and Neptune resident, Aaron Echolls.
5. “I didn’t know they were in that?!”. Veronica Mars launched the careers (or at least featured before they were famous) loads of young actors who have gone on to do big things, most notably – Kristen Bell (who plays Veronica), Amanda Seyfried, Adam Scott (Parks & Recreation, Party Down), Max Greenfield (New Girl), Ryan Hansen (Party Down), Ken Marino (Party Down), Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad), Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl), and Dianna Agron (Glee).
6. Because once you’re in, you won’t want to stop. Enough said.
Don’t believe me? Go ahead, see for yourself. With the movie coming out next year, you’ve got just enough time to find out what 91,585 backers on Kickstarter already know.
I’m watching the whole 3 series again myself, and enjoying it just as much the second time around.
And for those of you already in the know – enjoy!