Teen Girl Squad

Just once I’d like to get in on something from the beginning, instead of a year and a half after everyone else. I’d also like it to be aimed roughly around my age range. Until then, here is my book report on “Veronica Mars.”

“Veronica Mars” is a show about a high school student in her mid 20s who solves crimes for her dad’s detective agency while investigating her best friend’s death and the disappearance of her mom. She used to be popular but now she is not after her dad accused her ex-boyfriend’s father of killing his daughter, who was her best friend and her ex-boyfriend’s sister. She has a pet pit bull and a friend who is black and another friend who is Latino. The biggest mystery is how the UPN managed to land a series this good.

Seriously, it’s just solid. It’s got a lot of buzz around it on the internets and in Entertainment Weekly, and you can kind of see how solid it is by the trouble its supporters have in describing it. I’ve seen it compared to Nancy Drew, Twin Peaks, Peyton Place, The Outsiders, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Philip Marlowe, the OC, Beverly Hills 90210, Dawson’s Creek, Colombo, and Star Trek. I made up the last one, just because it seems like it needs more of a “hook,” when it really should just be able to stand on being a very well-written and well-acted show. With a lead actress who’s really just perfect with the part and is also pretty hot. Which I don’t feel any guilt pointing out, because I’m just not buying her as a 17 year old for one second. And I’m the guy who didn’t believe that the kids on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” were around my age.

Like every other series these days, it does the self-contained episodes thing with a bigger storyline going on in the background. Unlike other series, it actually handles both well. And the thing that really surprises me is that it almost never panders. The dialogue isn’t affected, the mysteries are neither too convoluted nor too obvious, the plots aren’t predictable, and both the humor and the drama genuinely work 99% of the time. I thought I had a major series plot point telegraphed, and when they revealed that I was right, they pointed out how everyone was foolish for not realizing it before and put an interesting spin on it in the next episode.

I’m genuinely impressed. Not blown away by it, but you don’t really need to be. It just does its thing and does it very well. And now I’m intrigued to know how the first season ends.

4 thoughts on “Teen Girl Squad”

  1. I watched the first season a month or so ago, and am still pissed at how UPS (oops. I mean UPN) handled the show. They had such a great opportunity to gain new viewers over the summer with reruns, but instead chose to run a bunch or random episodes out of order AND didn’t release the DVD set until AFTER the new season had started. Since it’s on the same time as “Lost” and I hadn’t yet watched the first season, I didn’t bother recording any of the new season. But I did like the show when I finally did get to watch it, (liked it. Didn’t love it.) and now I fear that UPN will once again fuck it up over the summer, and I’ll be perpetually one year behind the show.

    And because I had to wait so long before seeing the first season, and because I read so much stuff about TV, I found out who the killer was, so that was ruined. Although, I still enjoyed seeing how it played out…

    I still can’t put my finger on why I don’t LURVE it, though. Maybe I just can’t fully give in to the love of a teen drama unless they’re battling hellions (“Buffy”) or populated by cynical, emo-loving cute boys (“The O.C.”)

  2. Yeah, I can’t say what it is either, but it doesn’t really have a hook. Which I guess explains the stunt casting. I am intrigued by it, and I really want to see how the season plays out, and the only reason I’m not watching it now is because it just feels like I should be doing something other than sitting in front of a laptop watching DVDs for hours and hours.

    It’s solid, well-written, well acted, believable, and funny. Not just dependable, but actually good. But I couldn’t explain to anyone else why they should make an effort to watch it, and I wouldn’t have been falling over myself to get a copy of it, either. It’s kind of like if Laura Linney were a teen drama.

    The only bits that have stood out as being really memorable to me are when she gets caught making the snickerdoodles for her friend, and when she tricks the cop into saying “Veronica Mars is smarter than me.” Both pretty low-key, and not exactly something you rush out to tell your friends, “You’ve got to see this show! It’s clever and heartwarming without being cloying!”

  3. If you’re looking for something to watch, I’d recommend MI-5, or as it was originally called in the UK, “Spooks.” It’s a spy show, not entirely unlike something like Alias, but much more ‘realistic,’ in a good way.

  4. I’ve seen an episode of “MI-5” and thought it was pretty humorless. It was suspenseful and all, but I can’t really get hooked on a show unless I get the sense they’re not taking it too seriously. That’s kind of what killed “24” for me; I started to get the impression that they weren’t aware of how goofy their show is.

    As for “Veronica Mars,” I pulled another marathon DVD watching when I was at my parents’ house, and I finished the first season. Still solid, straight through to the end.

    The only bit that bugged me was when she dropped one guy who was pretty cool, and she started dating somebody else, who I won’t name in case anyone out there is planning to watch the show. I pretty much has to forfeit any testosterone I had left because I went into full-on WB mode, yelling “What are you doing? He’s no good for you, girlfriend!” and getting all pissed off that their relationship wasn’t playing out like I thought it would. But really, it came out of nowhere.

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