TV Joss Whedon posts enthusiastically to Whedonesque about Veronica Mars, a US show which has yet to be picked up in the UK. I'd heard good things, but if Joss likes it I'm quadruply interested. Any US readers want to fill me on what this show is about?


  1. Anonymous1:07 am

    I'm in the US and I just came across your question while surfing blogs . . . what do you want to know? Veronica Mars was the best new show on U.S. TV this past season (and yes, I'm looking at you, Lost).

    VM frequently gets compared to Buffy in the media because: 1) its lead character is a tiny blonde teenage girl living in Southern California, 2) it's incredibly well-written, 3) its overall tone is quite dark, although its quippy dialogue can be laugh-out loud funny, and 4) the subject matter and storytelling is intelligent and sophisticated and the show appeals to adults, despite the high school setting.

    Other than that, don't expect VM to be the "next Buffy" because they are both great -- but very different -- shows. Much like Buffy was rooted in the conventions of horror movies, VM is rooted in the conventions of film noir and particuarly the detective stories of Raymond Chandler and that ilk. VM is L.A. Confidential set in high school. One critic called it "day glow noir" and that's about as good a description as any.

    The plot? Oh, that. Veronica Mars is a 17-year-old girl who once lived the perfect life in a wealthy Southern California beach town. She was the daughter of the local sheriff and dated the son of the richest man in town, the founder and CEO of a software company. But one day her perfect life came to a crashing halt when her boyfriend broke up with her with no explanation and then just days later, her best friend, who incidentally was her boyfriend's sister, was murdered. Her father's investigation into the murder led him to focus on the victim's father as the chief suspect and the town chose sides: with only one exception, the town chose the richest man in town, who just happened to employ most of them. The one exception? Veronica.

    She and her father were ostracized by everyone they know: her father was thrown out of office, they lost their house and had to move to a shabby apartment, and then her mother ran off and hasn't even contacted Veronica in months. Veronica's former friends won't even talk to her at best, and at worst, they call her names and vandalize her car. Her father started a private detective agency, but since he's well known as the "bungling sheriff who was thrown out of office," he is struggling to make ends meet and Veronica helps him out as his receptionist and assistant.

    Have I left anything out? Oh, right. After her mom left town, Veronica attended a party to show the kids at school that their taunts weren't getting to her, but by the end of the night she had been drugged and raped. Good times.

    And all of the above backstory is told in the very first episode. I kid you not. After that, it actually gets sort of fun. Although a social outcast from the popular crowd she used to hang with, Veronica develops a reputation around school as a girl who can get things done for the right price, and she begins to solve cases and mysteries both big and small, both for kids at school and for her dad's clients at Mars Investigations. In the meantime, she is determined to find out who killed her best friend and she won't stop until she puts them behind bars.

    Hope that answers your questions!

  2. Anonymous2:22 am

    I came back to share these two early reviews to help explain the greatness that is Veronica Mars: Popmatters and L.A. Weekly.

    Despite what the reviews say, the dialogue on VM is witty, it's just that the Pilot episode is very dark to get in all the backstory. The tone lightens up considerably after that and some of the episodes are pretty funny, although the overall tone remains dark and the last few episodes bring the pain in a big way, as Joss Whedon mentioned when he called VM the Best. Show. Ever. As much as I loved Buffy, I have to agree.

    VM doesn't reach true brilliance until the last few episodes of the season, but it's pretty amazing stuff. It combines parts of Buffy,My So-Called Life and Twin Peaks with a side helping of Sam Spade or Columbo.

  3. That's amazing. Thanks Magnolia!