Making the world a better place, one show at a time.

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Washington, DC, United States
I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Veronica Mars (8): Season Three, Was It Worth It?

For hard-core Veronica Mars fans, like myself and now KP, the real reason Season Three is worth watching is the moral victory. Season Three is the weakest season, but when you get to the end you realize that this show was cancelled because the TV watching population is idiotic. Season Three is worth it to kindle a burning coal of righteous indignation in your heart.

Attempting to attract more viewers, the producers changed the format of Veronica Mars. Instead of a season long overarching mystery, there are two mysteries (nine and seven episodes each) and five completely episodic mysteries. (Just as a really inconsequential side bar, this is a mirror of the way Angel developed. That show move from episodic villains to season long struggles.) The format change was intended to make the show accessible; people would not be put off by the idea that since they had not seen the beginning they would not know what was going on. I like the format change for the very reason that Season Two disappoints me. Since the emotional impact of Season One’s mystery is not reproducible, having smaller cases allows the viewer’s interest and attachment to be compatible with the time he or she spends with the case. The finite interest the case can evoke is matched to the time it is open.

The two cases are not equal in my opinion. The first is a redressing of the Hurst campus rapes, which are introduced in Season Two. The second is the murder of Dean O’Dell (sorry to spoil this if you did not know). The first case is more thought provoking; what will people do to prove a point, when does justice become vengeance, when is trusting the people we love more important than finding the truth? The second case is more tawdry (and sort of more compelling); extra-marital affairs, drug-addict exes, gambling, fake suicide, shattered hopes, and unfortunate accidents. The inequality as I see it is not in either the merits or the execution of the respective storylines, but rather in the conclusions. The character reviled to be the campus rapist just feels like a cheep scapegoat. There is a logical incongruity in this character being the culprit, so you end up feeling like they just picked someone out of a hat. (There is an unforgettable Logan scene as a result of who the rapist is. It is one of the funniest things that happens in all of VM, but the scene would exist no matter who the rapist turned out to be, so it is just kind of band-aid to the spirit, not really a redemption of the conclusion.) The conclusion of the second mystery is much more satisfying. It is surprising, but prepared for. Also, it doesn’t come across as smug (which the first mystery does). The explanation of why the person does what they do is plausible, realistic, and compatible with the personality as reveled to the viewer. It is a more film-noir, potboiler storyline, but it works out logically and is appealing to the viewer.

I said above that Season Three is the weakest season, and there is an obvious reason for this. The overextension of Season Two turns into just cast-packing in Season Three. New characters are added, and they do not have enough to do to justify their immediate acceptance. One of these characters is Wallace’s roommate Piz (Chris Lowell). After the immediate bonding experience of retrieving his stolen possession, all of the characters act like he has always been there. For a show that began with such a reticent, untrusting heroine, it is irksome that acceptance is given without reservation. Similarly with Mac’s roommate Parker (Julie Gonzales), who after being given a compelling plot importance, disappears and reappears at almost random intervals. She vacillates between major and minor character status, frustrating the viewer. Wallace is reduced to almost a cameo, and both Veronica and the show suffer. My friend Calah is particularly bothered by the fact that in Season Three we seem to be exposed more often to Veronica’s flaws than her strengths. Part of the problem is that Veronica starts as a distinct and (in some ways) mature character; there is not a lot of room for her personality to expand. I think that the reduced influence of both Wallace and Keith accounts for Veronica’s increased unpleasantness. She is still Veronica, still one of the smartest, funniest, most engaging characters, and I still love her, but don’t be surprised to be a bit annoyed with her overzealous independence in Season Three. In a way, this is what happens in the first year of college, but the problem is that Veronica’s actions have fairly serious repercussions, and she seems determined to ignore the relationship between her choices and the resulting consequences. The most egregious offense occurs in the season finale (and it still makes me sad that it is a season finale, not a proper series finally). While I had no desire for a “happy” ending, the way we leave Veronica seems unnecessarily bitter.

Even with problems, Season Three is still better than ninety percent of the shows airing during 2006-2007, and I anything that has taken its airspace on The C.W. pales in comparison. The producers of Veronica Mars did everything that they could to get people to watch this show. I was willing to make concessions if it allowed my show to remain, but America wallowed in collective bad taste and thereby deprived me of my love, and the show of a chance to rectify its missteps. While I will never watch Season Three with the joy I experience watching Season One, I genuinely cherish the entire series. Veronica Mars is a decisive testament to the potential of television as a medium.

The TV Girl


Asiankp said...

Thank you, Thank you. I'm halfway through Season 3 and agree completely. The lack of Wallace and Veronica time is seriously disturbing for me, a dedicated viewer. And you are right, she suffers. Why is that good shows feel the need to add unecessary characters? Parker and Piz should go jump off a cliff. While I like the fact that Wallace has a buddy, it is inevitable that his "buddy" would have a crush on Veronica which is highly dangerous territory for a show that does such a good job of avoiding cliches. And Parker...well, Parker is just annoying and thats all there is too it. On another note, what did you think of Keith having an affair with the married client?

The TV Girl said...

The Keith affair thing broke my heart, but it was really hard for me to take it seriously because of the casting. Sometimes old castmates are a blessing, and sometimes a curse.