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Tuesday, June 06, 2006
  we kinda sorta like Veronica Mars

We're eight episodes into the first season of Veronica Mars, and it's fairly good thus far. There's much to like about this show, but also much to dislike.

THE GOOD:

1. There are two-and-a-half genuinely intriguing mysteries. They've got us hooked, wanting to find out who killed Lilly Kane and what the deal is with Veronica's mom. We wind up watching another episode immediately after one ends. The identity of Veronica's rapist could have been equally interesting if they ever actually discussed it again after the pilot. The question of her patronage started off as a potentially good aside when it was being handled with at least a bit of subtlety; that awful scene in the prison ruined it, though.

2. The writing is relatively smart and funny. Not nearly up to Buffy / Gilmore levels, but good enough for the time being. Like those two shows, all the characters behave believably and realistically within their patently unrealistic world. That might not seem like a hard thing to do, but even great shows like Lost have problems maintaining consistency on this point.

3. The acting is generally good, with one giant notable exception. Pretty much everybody in the cast does a fine job, even down to minor roles. Enrico Colantoni and Jason Dohring are both particularly good; the latter makes an excellent Bret Easton Ellis-style rich asshole brat. The guy who plays the public defender looks and sounds like a middle-aged version of the guy who played Perry in Undeclared. Shit, even the kid from Shaqzaam is pretty good.

THE BAD:

1. The narration is overbearing. I can see it maybe being necessary at times, especially in the pilot, in order to quickly introduce all the various characters and plot strands in only one episode. It's insistent, though, and annoying, and often as vacuous and embarrassing as the narration on Desperate Housewives. Two times out of three the narration is entirely superfluous. It doesn't wreck the show, but it does lessen my enjoyment of it.

2. The most important actor isn't pulling her weight. Kristen Bell isn't awful, but she is the worst actor among the regulars. She's especially bad with the narration, but even her non-voice-over work is often weak. She's less bad than inconsistent. I think they're just asking her to do too much, as she's often in almost every scene of an episode. She also looks like she's about thirty when she has that long hair in the flashbacks.

3. There've been a couple of outright bad episodes. That's a quarter of what I've seen. And both came back to back, I believe, episodes 7 and 8. Not a good sign moving on from here. The "class war" aspect of the student body election episode made me wince, whereas the episode about her missing neighbor was as cliche-ridden and melodramatic as any random hour of As the World Turns.

Overall, I am liking Veronica Mars, and will finish up this first season. In fact I can't wait to get home and watch two or three more episodes. Still, at this point, a little more than a third of the way through season one, it hasn't proven itself to be a great show. I probably wouldn't go out of my way to watch it on a weekly basis, but would probably tune in if I watched the lead-in program. If we can get caught up on this past season of Gilmore Girls before the fall, then perhaps we'd wind up watching Veronica Mars each week. At least we would until Scrubs came back on the air. Still, I think it's very obviously inferior to many of the shows it's compared and contrasted to, including Gilmore, Buffy, Lost, etc.
 

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Dark doesn't want to own her, but he can't let her have it both ways.

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