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.