in Television

TV Review: A Recap of the “Veronica Mars” Series

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With a little over a month before the release of The Veronica Mars Movie, those who didn’t watch the Veronica Mars series, over the course of its three year run are probably wondering what all the hype is.

After all, The Veronica Mars Movie ousted some stiff competition in the MTV Brawl Most Anticipated Movie of 2014, including going head-to-head with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.

Others may be scrambling to watch the three season Veronica Mars series to get ready for the film, or maybe doing a major re-watch in preparation. For those still on the fence about watching, maybe a quick look at the series as a whole will help.

Veronica Mars, the title character played by Kristen Bell, debuted on September 22, 2004 on what used to be The WB. Later in its lifespan, Veronica Mars would move over to The CW for its final season in 2006.

In most first seasons of a television show there is an awkward stage where the actors are acclimating with their characters and the show is trying to find its self-awareness. There was never any hint of that in the first season of Veronica Mars. Instead, Veronica Mars’ first season is one of the most tightly written of any television series I have seen produced. It was dark, haunting, and full of longing and missed chances leaving the viewers in awe and wanting more.

The first season was like a big homage to 1940s noir films. A mysterious death of a young socialite, a supposed bumbling sheriff who bungled the case and a perky young ingénue who wanted to solve the murder of her best friend, all occurring in the wealthy city of Neptune, California.

Veronica Mars was at the top of the social ladder enjoying that lofty perch thanks to her association with her boyfriend, golden boy Duncan Kane. Her status was equally lifted by her tight friendship with Duncan’s sister Lilly Kane, who happened to be dating Logan Echolls – the son of Hollywood box office star.

The little foursome’s world crashed when Duncan broke up with Veronica without cause and Lilly Kane was found murdered poolside at her family’s home. Veronica’s father, Keith, was the town sheriff – a smart guy who was maybe too smart for his own good.

He suspected Lilly’s father, Jake, may have murdered her, which cost Keith his position of sheriff after public outcry. When a poor schlep was tagged with the murder – giving no apparent reason for doing so, only offering an alibi of a disgruntled employee off Kane’s software company – it seemed the case was closed.

In the wake of the murder and scandal, Veronica stood by her father which turned her into a social pariah – having every up-scale social door closed to her.

Season one opens with the aftermath of these events. Veronica is ostracized at school and her father Keith running a fledgling detective agency. Veronica helps out at his office after school and soon learns she has a knack for this detective business.

The rest of the season is peppered with Veronica helping to solve minor cases involving classmates, but her main case is that of her murdered friend Lilly. There are twists and turns that would make a 40’s noir detective stand up and take notice – especially the way Veronica ferrets out the clues.

The show uses key flashbacks to give insight into Lilly and her relationship with Veronica – revealing what happened the night of her murder and also the tragic events that befell Veronica just weeks after Lilly’s death. Veronica Mars’ creator Rob Thomas never shirked from telling the hard story – even opening up about the tragic way Veronica lost her virginity.

The first season of Veronica Mars will always be my favorite because the audience never knew where the mystery was going to take them. It wasn’t some bubble gum high school detective series – it was a hardboiled mystery wrapped up in the trappings of wealth, privilege and a young girl’s hunger for justice.

Thomas had every intention of circumventing the complex relationship between Veronica and former boyfriend Duncan Kate. But a dark horse emerged early in the series in the form of Logan Echolls, played by Jason Dohring.

As Lilly’s boyfriend, the self-proclaimed bad-boy showed the fragile nature of his heart after putting together a highlight video of Lilly’s life. He touched Veronica in ways she didn’t want to admit after he dealt with a family tragedy and it opened a door for them. Veronica and Logan grieved for Lilly, the girl they both loved, and it created a special bond no one could understand. They say there is a thin line between love and hate, and Veronica and Logan balanced it like the most experienced of tight rope walkers.

Thomas doesn’t string the audience along – he reveals who killed Lilly Kane at the end of season one. If Veronica Mars was created in 2014 instead of 2004, I could have seen this storyline as a shorter event, maybe 13 episodes with the killer’s identity exposed at the end of the 13th episode. Season two would have been the fallout.

Instead, season two of Veronica Mars touched lightly on its season one killer and moved onto a bus crash that killed members of the Neptune student body. This mystery was a season-long event that also saw Veronica preparing to graduate.

I have to admit, season two’s storyline was a bit weak. It got bogged down in too much back and forth and a very bad “villain” character. The last two episodes of season two are fantastic, however, with the finale also touching on what Veronica’s life would have been like if Lilly hadn’t been murdered. One last comment on season two: the rooftop confession and interaction between Veronica and Logan is one of the most intense scenes of the series.

Season three of Veronica Mars suffered from what most teen shows deal with – the lead and his or her friend heading off to college. The show fell into that trap sending her and her group off to the Hearst College, which just so happened to not be far from Neptune, where the series is set.

I really don’t have many comments about season three. I grew to dislike Veronica in the final season. Sure, she had seen so much, had endured so many things, and had her hopes and beliefs dashed on numerous occasions… but, I just couldn’t get past her cold exterior and holier than thou attitude. She didn’t allow anyone one minor transgression, holding it against them when they did something she deemed not acceptable to her.

Of course there were cases to solve, classes to go to, and boys to date, dump, and date. I just didn’t care for it much.

I am hoping that The Veronica Mars Movie rectifies some of my feelings for Veronica, because I really am excited for both the film and the storyline. I’ll close with one phrase – TEAM LOGAN!

  • Thanks for the amazing and comprehensive recap! I’m looking forward to watching the movie too! I’m hoping it’s available internationally *fingers crossed*

  • It is my be good material