Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Earth to Mars

So I ended up blowing the last few days of holiday vacation sitting in front of the TV. I should say "we" since Cathy was there, but really, I'm not sure how much choice she had in the matter.

You see, I got addicted to one of Christmas gifts. And no, it wasn't a video game. It was the DVD of the first season of Veronica Mars.

We blew through all 22 one hour episodes in about five days. And it's only because I was trying to pace myself that I lasted that long. If I had my way, I would have went through them all in about 24 hours. Boy, what a great, great series.

I reviewed the show for The Express when it first premiered back in September 2004. As I recall, I liked it a lot, but had a few problems. One was that the pilot was a massive information dump and that, quite frankly, didn't know how the lead character was still sane. In that one hour we find out she's gossiped and loathed by most of the students at her high school because of a scandal, her boyfriend dumped her, her best friend (and ex's sister) was murdered, that her dad lost his job investigating the murder when he accused a prominent family of killing the best friend, her mom left when things went bad and, oh yeah, she was date raped.

That's a lot of crap to dump on someone in 60 minutes. Less, really, once you add commercials.

But I did like it, I just never got around to watching it. It had a horrible time slot, up against two shows I was devoted to (The Amazing Race and House). Plus, while there were standalone episodes, most of them involved moving the central plot forward - that being Veronica trying to figure out who murdered her best friend. You miss a couple of episodes and you were going to get confused pretty easily.

Not as badly as you do when you miss a few episodes of Lost, but bad enough that I just gave up on the show, with some regret.

But on a lark, I asked for the season on DVD. And was floored. This is great, great stuff. Clever, funny writing. Pretty solid mysteries to be solved (Veronica works for her dad, who is a PI. She does work on the side for him). A fantastic lead character who is smart, likeable, but not without her faults. And hey, look, a father on a TV show who isn't an ass. It also works much better on DVD. You get a much better flow of the story and what's happening if you can watch several back-to-back rather than having to wait a week (or weeks) for the next new show.

There are Buffy the Vampire Slayer elements, to be sure. A perky blond lead, a few guest appearances by some Buffy Alum and the writing has the same zip and zing that the good Buffy's did. But the difference is that Buffy had the odd stinker episode. One that just flopped. If there was one in the first season of Veronica Mars, I didn't see it.

And hey, the best part, I was completely wrong about who the murderer was and I still enjoyed it. It wasn't a cheat when he/she was revealed.

I'm debating whether to try and start watching the second season. It's already nine episodes in, which is a lot of catch-up. Plus, it's up against Lost, one of the other very few shows I make the effort to watch every week. So we'll see. Maybe I'll wait for the second season to come out on DVD as well. But it's going to be hard waiting that long.

Veronica Mars was a very nice Christmas surprise, I must say...

Last 5 on iPod
1. It's only time - Magnetic Fields (I)
2. Embarassment - Madness (Divine Madness)
3. The invisible man - Queen (Platinum Collection)
4. We're not right - David Gray (White Ladder)
5. Long time comin' - Bruce Springsteen (Devils and Dust)

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