Veronica Mars

Call me ten years late to the party, but after a decade of hearing just how good Veronica Mars was as a series, I finally took the plunge.

I’ll patiently wait here for the inevitable “I told you so.”

Veronica Mars is a detective-style television series focused on the title character, elegantly played by Kristen Bell. The show is set in a fictional beach town named Neptune, which is an oligarchy in microcosm. Veronica is the teenage daughter of the town’s disgraced former sheriff, who was removed from office after accusing one of the town’s most prominent members of murdering his own daughter. Everyone in power (read: upper class) turns their backs on the Mars family, and Veronica’s mother eventually leaves the family. After he hung up his uniform and badge, Keith Mars opened his own private investigation firm, and Veronica has been learning the craft.

Thus begins the tale of a Gen-Y Nancy Drew who solves mysteries while surviving the artificial dramas of high school isolation.

Over three seasons, the homage to 1950s noir plays out as Veronica moves from high school to college, fighting corruption and crime as lives her life in social exile. The character development is top notch, spanning not only Veronica’s close circle of friends, but also among some of the rich snobs that castigated her family earlier. Watching them come to accept Veronica for her skills rather than her social status was nice, but even better was watching Veronica grow up and realize how closely linked consequences and actions truly are.

Seasons one and two are certainly the best of the three, and they dedicate an entire season to a single overarching mystery with smaller cases laced throughout. Fans typically look down on Season Three, which broke the season into several smaller mysteries with tenuous links between them, but I enjoyed it. The only things I didn’t like were the on-again-off-again relationship with Veronica and a certain character (no spoilers here) and the remixed title theme.

This series is far from clean cut, and not everyone gets a happy ending. That is especially true of the follow-up movie, which takes place nine years after the series finale. The movie did a great job of logically advancing the characters of Neptune while explaining exactly why it’s okay that we didn’t see their evolutions on screen. It also finishes off a great character arc for Veronica.

The only downside I found with the movie was with Navy uniforms. While not entirely a deal killer, I had a hard time pulling my eyes away from glaring errors that a few minutes on Wikipedia or with a consultant could have solved.

What I really want to see after watching the movie is a continued Veronica Mars television series. While I like the idea of Veronica on the silver screen, I think the small screen would work best in telling the ongoing stories. Perhaps, in this new era of distribution companies creating content, Rob Thomas would consider Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu as a platform instead of relying on a network. While he’s writing new content in follow-on novels, I really want to see more of this high-caliber work on a screen.

I guess that makes me a “marshmallow.”

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