Veronica Mars, My American Idol: 3.12
Most of you have by now at least heard of a show called Veronica Mars. But if Nielsen's people meter ratings are to be believed, you probably haven't been watching it. And up until about a week ago, I was one of you. Up until a week ago, I didn't believe the hype. At best, I reasoned, it'd be a Buffy knock-off minus the cool superpowers, or a high school Alias redux, and at worst, well, let's just say I never forgot that it was on UPN.
But a funny thing happened on my way to dismissing this show. The roomie, who in no way resembles Joshua Jackson, managed to download the entire first season onto his G5. And then he spent most of last weekend in his room with just his computer and Veronica Mars. He emerged on Monday a changed man. It was all he would talk about until finally, my interest piqued and my patience sorely tested, I watched the first episode. And then the second and third and on and on until finally the roomie kicked me out of his room, saying it was 3 am and he needed sleep.
And let me tell you, dear readers, I contemplated stealing his G5 and spending the rest of the night and next day watching every episode. In the end, I slept instead, but I dreamed of Veronica Mars. I'm still not quite done watching every episode [darn you, sleep cycles] but I can say without reservation that it is an amazing show.
It incorporates the best elements of Buffy [cool high-school heroine] and Alias [tight, twist-a-minute plotting] and adds touches of noir and winking, self-referential humor. There are a hundred reasons why you should watch this show, but if critical acclaim was a deciding factor in a show's popularity, I wouldn't need to be writing this to urge you to give it a chance.
In fact, since Veronica's praises have already been sung by a choir of critics, I'll spare you a lecture on why this is the best show you're not watching. I would, though, like to tell you why Veronica has shot to the top of my list of shows to watch this season.
To wit, for the first time that I can remember in my tv-watching life, I identified most strongly with the female heroine character. With Buffy, I certainly sympathized with Buffy, but I would project myself onto the screen as another character, usually Xander [though just in the first few seasons] or Willow [especially post-college Willow]. With Alias, I absolutely loved watching Sydney/Jennifer Garner work, but it made me want to do her, rather than be her. But Ms. Mars is the right mix of brains, guts, savvy and 'phone charisma'. Maybe that's what did it in the end-- her 'phone charisma'. As an assistant, I know it's an extremely important skill-- being able to project the right image over the phone so that the person on the line will do what you want them to--whether it's used to get you a clue or get their boss to call your boss back. Of course, for those of you who don't live and die by phone calls, there's always the finely-drawn characters and the drum-taut plotting to keep you watching.
So bravo to UPN for giving a deserving show another chance. Of course, UPN could be playing this a lot smarter. They should've made sure to release the first season on DVD before the second started, so new viewers could catch up without having to resort to piracy. Additionally, Veronica is going to get absolutely slaughtered in her new time slot. UPN execs thought that by giving it their best lead-in [which for UPN is "America's Next Top Model"] they'd help ensure maximum audience. But they forgot that cult shows often do best on less competitive nights [like Monday or Tuesday]. As it stands, Veronica's up against Lost. Oopsie-- probably not the best idea, UPN.
But remember, one show does not a network change--even a woebegone weblet like UPN.
I don't want to do you, I want to BE you.
The first season of "Veronica Mars" will be released on DVD on October 11. Until then, there's always the torrents.