Thursday, March 30, 2006

I wish I could go back to college...

Now that's more like it, "Veronica Mars." A good self-contained mystery, a suggestion that the show could do okay once Veronica leaves high school, a gratuitously awesome "Arrested Development" double-cameo, the biggest spotlight yet for wisecracking Cliff, and a fine showcase for Jason Dohring, who's becoming so good that Veronica may need to investigate a case of show-stealing.

First, let's consider "Veronica Mars: The College Years." Really, there are only four essential characters to this show: Veronica, Keith, Logan and Wallace. Veronica and Wallace are already going to be Hearst together (Veronica getting some kind of scholarship is a fait accompli), and Keith will be just at the other end of town, with Veronica no doubt still helping out around the office. Logan could decide to straighten up, fly right and go to school, and I'm sure a hefty donation could grease his admission into Hearst. Or, if the show wants to avoid the "90210" syndrome where all the characters miraculously wound up at the same school, Logan could keep living off his trust fund, hanging out with the college kids without actually bothering to take classes. I like Weevil, and he could pop up from time to time as a townie. And as much as I love Dick (feel free to quote that out of context far and wide), he and Beaver are expendable; there are at least as many asshole rich kids in college as there can be in high school -- not to mention twice as many cliques and weird societies as you can find in high school. So college wouldn't automatically spell creative doomsday for this show the way it did for "90210," and "Buffy," and "Gilmore Girls," and... shhh. I'm having a moment.

I wasn't exactly holding my breath for the return of Troy, but he served a useful purpose as a character whose involvement in the rape story would move Veronica to be involved, but who was sketchy enough that we could have some doubt about his innocence. I like that the rapist didn't go to jail, as that creates a nice parallel with no one really getting punished for what happened to Veronica. As cool as it was to see Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat only slightly out of Bluth character, I couldn't shake the feeling that he was the rapist -- not only because it felt weird that one of them was central to that story while the other was basically a walking in-joke, but because it would have been a twisted adaptation of George Michael's obsessesion with Maebe. Ah, well. Marian had the best suggestion of the night: "They should have gotten Ron Howard to narrate this one." ("And that's when Veronica realized she had made a terrible mistake.")

Cliff and Lamb are my favorite non-Keith adult characters, so any subplot that has one busting on the other gets the Sepinwall seal of approval. Best part of that entire story: Keith's "Gone on a puzzling errand" note for Veronica.

And jack-rammers, but Jason Dohring is good. Veronica as a character is great because she'll never change much from her post-rape personality, but Logan is still a work in progress, which gives Dohring more chances to stretch than Kristen Bell. I know the Felix subplot was cooked up to give Kristen a break from her crushing season one workload, and Dohring and Enrico Colantoni are the only other actors on the show who could shoulder this much non-Veronica screen time. The only problem, as Matt pointed out in yesterday's column (and as posters on forums throughout creation have been saying for months) is that it's kept Veronica and Logan apart for most of the year, and whether they're dating or just trash-talking each other, the show's not nearly as interesting without some major Veronica/Logan interaction.

Elsewhere in TV land (and did anybody catch the "Inside TV Land" special with William Shatner? because that guy may be stranger in real life than Denny Crane, and I love it), I haven't watched "Lost" yet, but "South Park" was an inevitable let-down after last week. Other than the George Clooney Oscar speech joke -- which was funny both because it was true and because it showed Trey and Matt aren't afraid to fuck with anyone, including the guy they owe their careers to -- the hybrid/smug joke felt labored, so the only fun was listening to Ike talk about being baked.

And only a week late, I was proven right about Lisa getting bounced from "American Idol." Again, didn't see the results show, but I doubt I would have been that shocked by Kat being in the bottom two. Weird shit happens on nights when everyone is good or everyone sucks, and she doesn't have the obvious fanbase that people like Taylor, Chris and Pickler have. (Guys generally don't power-vote for this show, so being a smoking hottie will only carrie you so far.) I suspect, however, that this should galvanize anyone afflicted with the McPheever to get off their ass and dial a few times next week (Undercover Black Man, this means you), so I'm not worried yet.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did you get a chance to watch "Scrubs?"

David J. Loehr said...

Kudos on the Avenue Q reference. Of course, now that'll be in my head all day...

Alan Sepinwall said...

No "Scrubs" yet. I took the opportunity to download this week's episode and the one I missed two weeks ago via iTunes, but then my computer was tied up all night burning home movies to DVD, so we decided to save 'em both for tonight.

As for Ave Q, you're talking to a man whose ringtone is "The Internet Is For Porn," and who actually came up with bowdlerized lyrics to "My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada" just so I could sing it to my daughter without corrupting her little mind too much. It's really ruined my ability to watch "Sesame Street" with her with a straight face.

undercover black man said...

So now I need to actually call in and vote for Katharine McPhee? Sorry, ain't gonna happen. Just because I carve statues of this woman in my mashed potatoes doesn't mean I'll waste my time and money phoning in. I have to draw the line someplace.

I'm more concerned about how my other faves, Taylor and Paris and Elliott Yamin, will cope with "country night" next week.

At least Taylor can reach into his Ray Charles bag. I suggest a rip-roaring version "Hey Good Lookin'." But for the life of me, I can't think of a country tune that'll show off Elliott's chops.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Idol voting is free unless you text-message, and I think there are some computer programs (DialIdol.com) that let your computer autodial for you.

I think Elliott would be more likely to dip into the Ray bag than Taylor; Taylor has the more Ray-like voice, but he also leans more towards up tempo songs that let him do his Pee-Wee Herman big shoe dancing. (BTW, how much is Chris kicking himself for wasting "Walk the Line" on '50s Night? I'm sure Staind or Nickelback or somebody has covered Elvis or Chuck Berry in the past.)

And, in general, you don't need to worry about Taylor at all; by most reports, he, Chris and Pickler are so far ahead of the other contestants each week that he would have to molest a puppy on stage to land in the bottom three anytime before we're down to four or five contestants.

nemme said...

I think Veronica Mars will work really well in a college setting. I know that it's inevitable that VM will be compared to other high school shows like 90210, but it's in a totally different league.

As your collegue pointed out yesterday, this show really is all about the noir. I thought the scene in the frat house even looked better than the high school scenes, and I really hope the show is renewed.

a fine showcase for Jason Dohring, who's becoming so good that Veronica may need to investigate a case of show-stealing.

For me, season 2 has been much more about Logan than Veronica. Only in the last couple of episodes have I started to see the Veronica I loved so much last year. Duncan really dragged her (and the show) down.

The other thing we're missing with the dearth of Logan and Veronica scenes is that they bring out the best in each other, acting-wise. I think that's a big reason of why they work so well together.

Kenji Fujishima said...

Alan:

I watched South Park last night too. I agree it wasn't as sharp as last week's "Return of Chef" episode, and I felt some of the vulgar fart humor in it felt just a bit shopworn and routine (for this show, anyway). Nevertheless, I found it fairly entertaining overall, and I also enjoyed the George Clooney bit. Here's my question: what do you think about Trey & Matt's message, that while hybrid cars are undeniably good for the environment, the self-proclaimed "progressive" people who show them off are engaging in a form of smug superiority? Are they onto something, or are they just being, as one IMDb user suggested, trying too hard to be hip? Because I've encountered some users on the South Park boards responding to the episode last night who found nothing of substance or truth in that message. Just wondering...

Adam said...

Would Johnny Cash's cover of NIN's "Hurt" be considered "country" for Chris-defending purposes?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Technically, no, since the original isn't a country song, and Chris has been getting away with this stuff by choosing songs where the original fits the theme but the cover doesn't. Of course, with this show, who the fuck knows? They did Country Rock Night during season two, and not a single contestant sang something that would be considered country rock. (The closest was Reuben Studdard's massively unironic version of "Sweet Home Alabama," which if you get technical, was southern rock, not country rock.)

Maybe Chris can sing the theme to "Monday Night Football."

Alan Sepinwall said...

Kenji, I don't know any hybrid car owners myself, so I can't say whether they're smug fart-lovers (though, really, what man doesn't love the smell of his own farts?). I don't know that Trey and Matt have a problem trying too hard to be hip; I think they try too hard to seem like they have more common sense than anyone else in the world, and to make that point, they often make both sides look like complete assholes. This one felt like that.

Bryan Harris said...

I'm not sure if I agree with the idea that Logan is an essential VM character; he's become so much of a device for fangirl pandering that his scenes are interminable to sit through (a sexy bad boy who's Secretly Tortured and gets to put down all the other characters with impunity? Why don't they just drop the pretense and have him change his name to Spike?).