Tag Archives: Veronica Mars

Fast Times at Neptune High (Part 2)

This is the second part of my “live-blogging” the Veronica Mars series. You can catch up with Part 1 here.

Nancy Drew meets Philip Marlowe, and the result is pure nitro. Why is Veronica Mars so good? It bears little resemblance to life as I know it, but I can’t take my eyes off the damn thing.” Stephen King

Thoughts halfway through Season 2.

I know I said let’s meet back at the end of season 2, but I thought maybe I will check in halfway through too.

The Kickstarter campaign closed on April 12, and it was a huge success. I kinda wish I donated to it now, but I didn’t know at the start if I’d even be a “Marshmallow” (i.e. a fan of the show). I can say now that there is enough about the show that I love (and hate!) that I can count myself among the Marshmallows. What’s a male Marshmallow called? A “Mansmallow”? Sounds gross. Anyway, their final tally was $5,702, 153, well exceeding their goal of $2,000,000. It was the fastest campaign to reach the million and 2 million dollar marks, it was the highest funded film and had the most backers in kickstarter history, and actually was the third largest project in kickstarter history. So yeah, I guess people love Veronica Mars. Again, I ask: what does this mean for Firefly?

Wow, season 2 begins with a “bang” literally, with a school bus driving off a cliff, Sweet Hereafter style, killing the driver, a teacher, and seven students. Only one student survived, Meg, but she is in a coma, Ronnette Pulaski style. The first episode of season 2 brings us all up to speed on what happened over the summer. Sho’ nuff, that was Logan at the door at the end of Season 1, but he is all effed up. Looking like he is about to be charged with his own girlfriend’s murder, he is about to end it all on a bridge when he is intercepted by Weevil and the PCHers. What happens next is a little like “A Trip to the Dentist”. All we know is that a PCHer is killed and Logan is the prime suspect. He goes to trial and is acquitted, (again, arrest, investigation, trial and acquittal all in about 10 days), sparking off a new round of violence between the PCHers and the Oh Niners. With a little bit of flashback trickery, we are led to believe that Veronica Mars and Logan are now dating, but by the end of the episode we learn that she realized that Logan is, and always will be, a soulless psycho-path, and so chooses Mr. Blandsauce himself, Duncan Kane. (He used to be my boyfriend).

Just as justice moves on a different timescale in Neptune, so do grudges. With the exception of Logan and Weevil, whose rivalry sees new heights this season (come on, you two, why not get a room already?), no one stays mad at each other too long.

For example, here’s a paraphrase of a conversation between Logan and Dick Casablancas.

Logan: “I’m sorry I’m diddling your step-mom.”

Dick: “Nah, that’s cool. I used to fantasize about screwing your hot dead Mom myself.”

Logan: “Cool”.

Or how about Duncan and Logan? Remember Logan’s Dad killed Duncan’s sister. This isn’t something that most people can find room in their hearts to forgive in a lifetime, but over one quick Neptune summer we overhear this conversation.

Logan: “That really sucks that my Dad killed your sister, she was also my girlfriend, you know? Oh yeah, and I was having sex with your ex-girlfriend all summer who is now your girlfriend again.”

Duncan: “It sure does suck. But that’s cool. Do you want to be my roommate and play some vids?”

Logan: “Cool”.

Throughout Season 1, I was approaching the series through the eyes of Keith Mars, and wondering how I would be if I were in Keith Mars’ shoes. In season 2, I sort of shifted my perspective and cast my mind back to my own high school days and wondered where I would fit in, if I had the misfortune of moving to Neptune. In high school, I just hung around with my neighbourhood friends and sang in the choir, played in the band and was in the school play. How would this translate to Neptune? I wouldn’t have the support of my circle of neighbourhood friends, so that leaves band, choir and drama. I don’t think I’d fit in with the drama group. It’s run by Logan’s older sister and it seems pretty cliquey. There’s been no sign of choir or band either so far. I think maybe I would probably be closest to Mac, if she would have me as her friend. I could see the two of us hanging out on weekends and doing fun stuff, poking fun at everyone quietly from a distance. I think I’d get a kick of out Dick Casablancas, I’d find him a harmless boob who would give me great material to share with Mac after school. I don’t think Logan or Duncan or any of those cool guys would even have me on their radar, to be honest.

One other thing to note at the halfway point: I loved how when Mr. Casablancas was presented with the knowledge that his wife was cheating on him, his first and only reaction was to jump up from his desk and start shouting “It’s over. Start shredding EVERYTHING. It’s over!” or something like that. He was more concerned about his pyramidy real-estate company than the infidelity, and as he marched through the office, all his employees just started destroying stuff, like it was the American embassy in Iran or something. And this is the best part: he gets to the roof of his office (and I kid you not) he has a fucking helicopter fueled up and ready to go, and without another word he is gone gone gone. You can say what you want about Mr. Casablancas, but that guy had a sweet exit strategy in place, am I right? I mean if the roles were reversed, and the shit was about to go down at my place, I would probably just stupidly sit on my couch until the police came. I mean, it took me 6 months to get out of church council meetings, so that gives you a bit of an idea of my personal pace.

And one last thought at the midway point: they’ve cast Steve Guttenberg as a businessman running for mayor in Season two. This also involves a shady subplot where there is a movement to get Neptune incorporated. I don’t really understand all the details at this point, but wasn’t it Anton Chekov who said that if you introduce a Guttenberg in the first act, you must have that Guttenberg do something by the end of the play? So yeah, that story-line must develop by the end of the season somehow. I mused aloud at some point early on if the two mysteries will at some point converge (i.e. the bus mystery and the mystery of what happened with Logan on the bridge), but at the halfway point, I am still in the dark as to how it will all play out.

Thoughts at the end of Season 2

Holy cow! We just finished up Season 2 last night at about 2 am after attending a Fleetwood Mac concert. SPOILERS, obviously. So “Don’t call me Beaver” Casablancas turns out to not only be the bus bomber but also as it turns out to be Veronica Mars’ rapist from Season 1. I KNEW there was more to that whole “Trip to the Dentist” episode. I knew we weren’t getting the whole story, and I love how this series keeps you guessing, even on events that seem to be wrapped up and in the past. I mean, Beave was a sort of sympathetic character from the end of Season 1 and throughout the bulk of Season 2. Dick’s younger brother, who seemed to have a lovely burgeoning romance with my girl Mac, was also harbouring some terrible secrets that blossomed into Logan-level psychosis. His roof-top admissions just kept on coming. Yes, he was sexually abused by Mayor Woody along with at least 2 other students (a.k.a. they got “Guttenberged”!), yes, he bombed the bus to keep the abuse from becoming public knowledge (a bit extreme, yes?), yes he killed the stunt-man who knew about the bombing and wrote Veronica’s name on his palm and yes, he was the rapist who passed on the mysterious STD to Veronica Mars at that fateful party. (Speaking of which, if STDs are a thing in Neptune, how is it that Logan hasn’t contracted anything yet, having spent so much “quality time” with that walking Petri dish, Mrs. Casablancas?) I was expecting the Beaver to admit to stealing those dogs in season 1, arranging the sex change on that video store kid’s Mom/Dad and also being the real father to Meg’s child. His suicide in the season finale means that there won’t be any long drawn out prison or court storyline in Season 3, like we had with Aaron Echolls in Season 2, but it also means that there’s no real closure to any of the crimes that the Beave committed. Jeez, just when you think you know a guy!

Season 2 felt a little more fragmented than Season 1. We always had the Lilly Kane murder mystery to keep us on track if we ever strayed too far into subplots, but in season 2, the viewers were balancing the bus crash, the Logan blackout bridge murder storyline, the “what’s Guttenberg up to?” storyline, the “girlfriend in a coma” subplot, the “Fitzpatricks” menace, etc etc. Rob Thomas, creator of VM, is a master of the red herring, and his season had more red herrings than a Swedish BBQ (and I’ve been to my share of “Swedish BBQs”, if you know what I mean!)

As a result, it feels like there are so many loose ends. Now, some of these may be addressed in Season 3. We were too tired to pop in the first episode of season 3 to see where we are all at, but I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

Here are just some lingering questions I have. (Some of these may have been legitimately dealt with, so please let me know if you know). I feel like for most of these, we can just say, “Blame it on the Beave!”

  • The rat on the bus. What’s up with that? Was that ever adequately explained?
  • What the hell was going on with Meg’s family life? Wasn’t Sheriff Lamb doing some extra surveillance on their place and wasn’t something supposed to come of that?
  • So Wallace I guess is NEVER ALLOWED TO RETURN to Chicago, because everyone thinks he ran over a homeless guy there?
  • The re-introduction ofVeronica’s ex-boyfriend, Troy. Remember him? He was that smooth talkin’ pretty boy who turned out to be a fuckin’ liar and a drug dealer and a cheater. Was his re-introduction just a “one-off” or was it setting up something for Season 3? Will we have to put up with him as well? I can’t even remember his storyline, but it had to do with a date-rape on campus or something, right, with Mae-Bee from Arrested Development? I don’t think that even got solved.
  • What was the significance of Lucky the janitor wearing a catcher’s mask and putting bleach on his feet? Did I miss something there?
  • Was Duncan ever actually having sex with Mrs. Casablancas? He sure was taking long showers, regardless. Somehow, I need to know this. I need to know if they were having full sex. Does this make me a perv? We know Mrs. Casablancas snatched some of his pubes to frame Duncan for Lilly’s murder. And speaking of that, what was going on between Mrs. Casablancas and Keith Mars at the end of Season 2? (I’m assuming this will all be made clear at the beginning of Season 3)

So bring on season 3!

Here are some hopes:

  • That we have another round of revisionism on the night of “A Trip to the Dentist” and it turns out that Logan was the rapist, (I guess along with Beave and Duncan in the same night? Jeez, this is turning into the “Toucha toucha toucha touch me” scene from the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”) but this time Logan is convicted and is chemically castrated. Sure, keep him on the show, but as a harmless eunich and as a cautionary tale.
  • That Keith Mars somehow gets back at Sheriff Lamb in some awesome way and reclaims his rightful title (Sheriff) and kicks some serious ass. I even have the episode title for you, “I shot the Sheriff”. Or maybe “Don’t try the Lamb”. You’re welcome, Mr. Thomas.
  • That Mr. Casablancas returns in the same awesome way that he left the show (by freaking helicopter!) and snatches his fortune back from Mrs. Casablancas and Dick and Dick will have to go out and get a real job like working at “Java the Hut”.
  • That Mac finally finds love with someone who is not a rapist and/or murderer.
  • That Leo returns and wins VM’s affections and at the end of the season the two of them finally leave Neptune and start a life somewhere far, far away.

Will any of this transpire? I guess we’ll have to check back here when we’re all done.

“A long time ago, we used to be friends…”

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Fast Times at Neptune High (Part 1)

Back in the middle of March, a kickstarter campaign for Veronica Mars was started by show creator Rob Thomas and show star Kristen Bell. Their initial aim was to reach $2 Million. They did that on their first day. A couple of weeks later, they passed the $4 Million mark and it is still growing. There are some cool incentives like if you donate $10,000 you can get a cameo in the movie. Even a donation of $10 will get you a copy of the shooting script on the day the movie opens, so it’s up to you whether you want to be spoiled or not. The kickstarter officially closes on Friday, April 12. If they get to $5 Million, it will mean that they can actually film in Southern California, where the show is supposed to be set. Otherwise, they will be filming in Baton Rouge, LA, which offers better tax breaks. The advantage of recreating Neptune on location is that they will be able to use the beaches, the palm trees, the architecture. Everything would just look right.

I got excited right away by this news. This is the kind of cool, geeky things that can happen when the Internet is put to good use. Fan-based crowd sourcing to raise funds so that we can watch projects we want to see. If this model works, can another Firefly movie be far off?

The only snag to all this was that I haven’t actually seen Veronica Mars. A small point, but something that I felt I needed to remedy before I saw the movie. I was aware of the show, for sure. I knew it was critically acclaimed but like Firefly, was cancelled before its time. It lasted a respectable three seasons and then it was gone. I don’t know anything about the show. I don’t know how it ended or if it ended well. I’m not even sure I will like it, but I’m willing to give it a go. I figure that I can handle three seasons. On its surface, it gives off a bit of a “Dawson’s Creek” or “90210” vibe. I’m saying this without actually ever watching any of either show. All I know is that I probably wouldn’t like DC or 90210. I don’t know what I’m basing that on, let’s call it a gut feeling.

A friend of the blog let it be known that she owned all three seasons and she would be happy to lend them to us. So we’re all set. I thought maybe I’d record my thoughts here and there throughout the viewing. Kind of a recorded live-blogging of the “Veronica Mars” viewing experience, ten years after the fact. I’m not going to slavishly record my thoughts episode by episode, AV Club style, but maybe some initial thoughts and a round-up after each season? How does that sound? Oh, and SPOILER ALERT, okay? I’ve been tempted to check Wikipedia from time to time regarding Veronica Mars, but I’m glad I’ve remained relatively spoiler free so far. So if you haven’t seen the show, and don’t want to hear about it, I’d stop reading now. I made one little mistake and watched the “Veronica Mars kickstarter video” which inadvertently delivered a bit of a spoiler regarding Veronica’s love life, but other than that, I’m clean.

Thoughts halfway through Season 1.

So we’ve settled into a viewing schedule. Our regular viewers are myself: who hasn’t seen a single episode, my wife: who has seen the odd episode out of order when they were rebroadcast three or four years ago, and our friend Carol: who has supposedly seen the whole series but only remembers the vaguest and broadest story arcs. For example, she doesn’t even remember who killed Lilly Kane, a pretty important part of Season 1. Carol’s sister, Sheila (the owner and lender of the series) checks in with us from time to time to monitor our progress. Tuesday night has become Veronica Mars night for the foreseeable future. After supper we can usually get two, sometimes three episodes in. The most we’ve watched in one sitting is four. The thing with this show is that it is so well written and so damn addictive that we haven’t been able to keep our viewing to just one night a week. Wednesdays and Thursdays have also seen some VM action, and even the weekends are not spared.

So what do I think of it all? For those who don’t know the show at all, Veronica Mars is a high school student in the fictional Southern California town, Neptune (cute, right?). A year ago, her best friend, Lilly Kane, was MURDERED. Veronica’s dad was the sheriff in town and believed that the Kane family had something to do with the murder, and when someone outside the family confessed and was arrested, her dad lost his job in a recall election. What’s even worse was that she was at a house party and someone drugged her drink. She woke up the next morning and it was clear that she had been raped. She reported this to the police, but didn’t tell anyone else, not even her Dad. Around this same time, Veronica’s boyfriend, Duncan (who was also Lilly’s brother) dumped her and she lost her status as one of the rich, popular kids. Veronica’s Mom also ran off, and her Dad decided to stay in town and open a Private Investigations firm to pay the bills. Veronica works there part-time. I think that’s all you need for background, right? I should also mention that at the high school there are two distinct groups: the “Oh-Niners” named for their zip code. Basically your garden variety rich assholes. And the “PCHers”, which as far as I can tell stands for “Pacific Coast Highwayers”, a group of non-white, lower middle class students. Before Lilly Kane’s murder, Veronica Mars was deeply embedded in the “Oh-Niners”, but has identified more with the “PCHers” since her family’s fall from grace.

Here are my thoughts on the characters.

Keith Mars

Watching this show as someone on the cusp of 40, I identify more with Veronica’s Dad, Keith Mars. He’s my favourite character on the show, and I’m glad he is actually a real part of the show, not someone who bookends stories or is just there as a convenient plot device. He is able to outsmart the douchy guys who Veronica brings home from time to time, and I felt vindicated that her boyfriend Troy turned out to be a liar and a drug dealer who was cheating on Veronica the whole time. I didn’t like Troy, and Keith saw right through him too.

Veronica Mars

The opening shot of the pilot has Veronica Mars on a stakeout outside a seedy motel, waiting to snap pictures of someone inside one of the rooms. Before long, a motorcycle gang pulls up and begins to menace her. Cut to opening titles. What a great opening! You’re instantly interested in this character and her world, and you want to learn more. I like the character of Veronica Mars. She’s so smart and clever, and she’s been through a hellish year: her best friend was murdered, her Dad loses his job, she loses all status in the school, her boyfriend breaks up with her, and her Mom disappears. Any one of these things would be enough to sink any one of us, but somehow she carries on each day, facing new challenges and ridicules from the “Oh-Niners” and “PCHers” alike. I find myself taking an almost paternal interest in her. I care about who she hangs out with and who’s she’s dating. I admire her strength and positivity and her ability to not let the small shitty high school things seem to bother her. They do bother her, of course. I mean, she’s just a kid, but she puts up a good front, which makes those moment when her guard is down all the more dramatic, like when she received some upsetting news from Lilly’s accused killer and she is seen sitting out in her car, sobbing all alone. Heartbreaking.

Wallace

Veronica Mars befriends Wallace on the first day of school. He’s being threatened by the PCH gang and she comes to his aid. Wallace, not being a rich asshole, also must work in the school office for part of the day. I’m not sure how this jibes with California child labour laws, but we’ll let that pass. Things work differently in Neptune. The advantage of having Wallace in the office is that he is able to access student files to aid Veronica in her various investigations. Wallace and Veronica have great chemistry and he’s just about the only other character I trust in Neptune, aside from Keith Mars.

Mac

Another misfit. She is great with computers and helps Veronica from time to time when she has tech questions.

Leo

A deputy in the sheriff’s department who has a crush on Veronica Mars. Veronica uses him from time to time to get information pertaining to the Lilly Kane murder case, but even when he finds out he’s being used, he doesn’t seem to mind too much. He is sweet and lovable and if I were Keith Mars I wouldn’t mind at all if the two of them were an item, despite the slight age difference and the possible ethical conflict of a deputy dating a high school student. But hey, it’s Neptune: things work differently here. Also, has anyone else noticed that things move pretty quickly in Neptune? I mean one day, those kids stealing from Wallace’s convenience store are arrested, and THE VERY NEXT DAY they seem to be well into a trial. In just 24 hours, both sides have had their discovery meetings, a jury has been selected, a judge and court room were assigned, and evidence was being heard. Is Neptune really a suburb of MegaCity 1? In a later episode, a student is arrested in the morning AND THAT VERY AFTERNOON he’s out picking up garbage on the side of the highway as part of his community service agreement. Later on, we learn a student got pregnant from a teacher. We can only assume that the pregnancy took 2 months, like a gerbil.

AND THAT’S ABOUT IT AS FAR AS LIKABLE CHARACTERS ON THIS SHOW GOES

I mean there’s this Weevil character (I think his real name is Eli). The jury is still out on him for me, but I think I might get to like him. He’s a leader in the PCHers and hates all things “Oh-9”. Veronica Mars helps him out early on, and he seems to be open to helping her on cases from time to time, when it suits him.

And that’s pretty much it. The rest of the group is made up of generic looking spoiled rich asshole types. The before-mentioned Duncan: Veronica’s ex-boyfriend and brother to the murdered Lilly. Logan: Lilly’s ex-boyfriend, and Dick Casablancas, local boob who seems to be channelling Matthew McConaughey from “Dazed and Confused”. How will they factor into the story? We’ll have to wait and see.

Thoughts at the end of Season 1.

Well, holy heck, those were a couple of intense last couple of episodes, weren’t they? The whole “Trip to the Dentist” episode, which goes over the night that Veronica Mars was raped, was annoying in its Rashomonish take on the evening. A bunch of unreliable narrators leaves us with a variety of stories and I’m not entirely sure we know exactly what happened. I wonder if we’ll ever know the truth from that night. We know Veronica doesn’t remember anything, and it’s questionable as to how much (SPOILER) Duncan remembers. If you go with his story, Veronica was conscious enough to consent, so it wasn’t rape. But the bottom line is that Veronica did not consent, so it was, by definition, rape, right? I guess you could call it “non-consentual sex”, to try to make it sound less rapey, but I think it’s still rape. It brings to mind the recent Steubenville case. I guess the best case scenario would be that both Duncan and Veronica “blacked out” and had no knowledge of what happened. The actus without the reus, if you will excuse the first year law school talk. But that wasn’t what seemed to happen, if you believe Duncan’s story. So, yeah. Gross.

The other major mystery of season 1, the Lilly Kane murder, was a complete surprise to me. Again, SPOILER (Jesus), it all sort of made sense that Logan’s Dad was the culprit. We knew he had a violent temper and that he was abusive to Logan, so the signs were there if we knew to look for them. The final episode did a nice job of casting suspicion on a number of possible killers, Agatha Christie style, until the final showdown and OF COURSE Keith Mars is the hero, coming to the rescue at the last minute.

What does this mean for Season 2? Presumably The Kane/Mars feud can be put to rest, despite the fact that Veronica’s Mom and Duncan’s Dad seem to still have a connection. Will Veronica return to the “Oh Niners” at the expense of the “PCHers”? And what about this awful, skeevy development between Logan and Veronica? I’m not exactly sure what it is about that guy, but he makes my skin crawl. His character is given these long dramatic shots that I think are intended to bring out sympathy in the viewer, but all I see is a spoiled rich asshole who doesn’t deserve the time of day. The fact that VM chooses him over Leo means that Veronica drops a few degrees in my estimation of her. What. The. Hell? I mean, what does anyone see in him? It is beyond me. I was right about Troy, but I know that Logan is in it for all three seasons and according to the Kickstarter campaign, the movie as well, so I’m going to have to endure him somehow. It’s sort of like when a friend of yours is dating an ass. You can’t really say anything, right? You just have to let it run its course or risk damaging your friendship. I have to remember two things: 1. Veronica Mars is 17 and will make dumb mistakes like we all did at her age, despite the fact that  she is so smart and cool and excellent in other ways, and 2. these are FICTIONAL CHARACTERS created by the same dude who created “Party Down”, so why am I getting so invested?

Both excellent points. Let’s meet back here after season 2, okay?

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