Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Veronica Mars, FBI?

Some people have been asking what I know about this Hollywood Reporter story about "Veronica Mars" doing a time jump to season four so that Veronica will be training at the FBI Academy in Quantico.

Getting details on this one has been hard, because no one wants to talk on the record, and Rob won't talk about it period, but here's what little I've been able to gather:
  • If this happens, Veronica won't be studying at the FBI Academy; she'll be a rookie agent.
  • All of the actors are still signed for next season, though I can't imagine all -- or even most, or maybe even anybody save Kristen Bell and maybe Jason Dohring -- surviving into the new format, unless Veronica gets assigned to the FBI's Neptune office. (Logan's rich and has nothing better to do than follow Veronica from place to place, assuming they ever get back together.)
  • The comparative success of the Pussycat Dolls show has made the chances of "Veronica Mars" returning in its current incarnation all but impossible. On the other hand, I know at least one decision-maker at the CW who's intrigued by the possible new format, and everyone there wants to stay in business with Kristen if they can.
So that's what I've got. Now three questions for you, my little research monkeys:
  • What shows have done a significant mid-series time jump? So far, I've got "Alias," "Galactica" and "Wonder Woman" (which shifted from WWII to the '70s between seasons). I don't count a show that just did a time jump for the finale, like most of the "Trek" spin-offs.
  • What shows have been successful after so thoroughly changing their premise? I guess if you count "All in the Family" and "Archie Bunker's Place" as one show, that counts, which leads me to...
  • If the CW decides they want a new title -- under the theory that new viewers aren't going to come to a fourth year show, even one that's been totally revamped -- what would you call the new show? And I'll pre-empt all the "Silence of the Lamb" suggestions right now. RIP, Lamb.
Fire away.

45 comments:

Zodin2008 said...

For the higher ups at The CW to really be 'sold' on a NEW Veronica Mars, they may have to consider changing the title, who knows? I do know if Veronica is a 'rookie' agent, the show should either be set in Washignton, D.C. or where she might ultimately be assigned to--say San Diego or Los Angeles field offices?

Obviously, if they go with San Diego, it will be very easy to keep a good portion of the cast if they choose to.

Frankly, most of the supporting characters (outside of Logan and Keith) are very underdeveloped (in comparison to say Buffy which did a better job establishing Giles and the Scoobies) so if Veronica is back in Southern California, I would consider just keeping Keith and Logan (Keith could still be Neptune sherriff only appearing some of the time or now maybe he works in SD?).

If the show actually moves to DC (which is an idea I like), they will probably cosnider saving money and pulling an "X Files" to now film in Vancouver--it would also mean an entire new cast with maybe one character surviving. Logan is the obvious choice or maybe a less obvious keeper is Mac (Tina Majorino).

My idea for how Mac ends up in DC is 4 years later, she ultimately MARRIED the environmental boyfriend of hers and they got environmental jobs in Washington together. Or jobs with PETA?

To me, Wallace has become extremely useless and was never full developed the right way, anyway. Piz is going to the "Grey's" spinoff anyway and I found his character annoying and no one would notice if the new girl is gone. Weevil will probably end up back in jail. Mac and Logan are the supporting characters I would make the biggest push for to keep.

ooda said...

I'd say Mac is content with her Big Love commitments, so I don't know how much they'd fight to keep her (then again, I don't know if it's her, the writers, or HBO that's to blame).

But I'd say the only definite as of now is that the show won't be set in college. They really need a shake-up, and if it does turn out like how they're saying, then I'll start watching again (season three was too pretentious for my liking).

Matt said...

Keith needs to be kept. One of the key things of VM's appeal is the father-daughter relationship, and axing Keith turns it into just another procedural.

As for "significant mid-series timejump"--I assume you mean a year or so more, not with a premise involving time travel, and acknowledged (e.g., adorable baby-adorable sassy toddler transitions don't count).

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Veronica Mars fan (I've really tried to give the show a chance though) but I've always been happy for the fans that its come back every year.

At this point, though, I have to wonder...what exactly does it take to kill the lowest rated show on tv?? This show has been given so many chances it's ridiculous. I know most of the fans think they'll take the show any way they can get it, but this just sounds like a terrible idea. Alan mentioned the time jumping aspect of Alias and that show definitely suffered a creative slump in its third season. Plus, the switch from SD-6 to the CIA (not to mention the later switch to APO) didn't do the show any favors either. If The CW picks up this new show it will be a sign of total desperation.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested to see what Veronica Mars, FBI agent will be. Yes, time jumping can be a difficult transition, but I think keeping Veronica in college would be even more so. I just want the show to return next season!

I do worry that Rico and Jason will not return if Veronica gets revamped. I think both characters provide Veronica with a nice counter that can match her smarts and quips.

dez said...

Maybe they can call it "The Quantico Files." Or "FBI: [whatever city is the setting]." Or in keeping with reductionist TV titles: "The Rookie."

I love VM, but at this point, I'm not sure I want it to come back, especially if they're still going to have the budget restrictions they have now. I'm tired of wondering where Wallace or Mac have gone when Veronica needs them most, and although I like Jason Dohring, I don't care if Logan is back or not. Feh. Way to kill a smart show, CW!

Zodin2008 said...

dez makes an excellent point about the budget constraints.

It's almost become way too distracting each episode to see which supporting player is not going to show up. Mac and Wallace disappear for large numbers of episodes at a time and frankly, it's way too noticeable.

Where Rob Thomas made a huge mistake is he should have focused a little less on the "will they or won't they" stuff between Veronica and Logan (which was annoying at times) and not even bothered bringing Weevil back this year, maybe spent the Weevil $ on more Mac episodes.

(I honestly couldn't care less at this point how much I saw wallace).

dan said...

The FBI has been to Neptune before for an investigation (Lucy Lawless).

I could see Veronica being sent back to Neptune to help the local Sheriff investigate a major crime.

Lindy said...

Is it just me, or is the CW in trouble? Their most popular scripted shows (Smallville, 7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls) are aging, and they don't seem to have anything in the pipeline to replace them. Their new pilots all bombed and their younger shows are tanking in the ratings. I've liked Supernatural the few times I've seen it, but its awful time slot (opposite Grey's Anatomy AND CSI, yikes) prevents it from becoming even a modest hit.

As for Veronica Mars, I love the show but I'm surprised renewal is even being considered at this point. I've been operating on the assumption that the show will be gone after this season, it's just not pulling in the ratings despite finally having a decent lead-in. It's definitely not a show the network can build on at this point. I'd tune in for a revamped VM, but I have to admit the concept makes me worry. All I can think is "Alias, season 3."

Anonymous said...

I loved VM the first two years, but I think it's been screwed up beyond recognition this year and it has had all the chances that it deserves.

Adam said...

Does Laverne & Shirley's move to Los Angeles count?

Zodin2008 said...

Geez...am I the only person who enjoyed "Alias" season 3? I guess so!

I would take "Veronica" back in any form, another year at Hearst or Veronica as a rookie agent with a new supporting cast. I would watch Kristen Bell spin dialogue if she were reading the frakking encyclpedia.

lady t said...

I think that part of the probelm with VM this season is the CW sandbagging the show by insisting on not having a season long mystery arc(a hallmark of VM)and by having plenty of stand alone shows for "newcomers" to catch up and get into it.

What was the brainstorm behind not having a season long mystery,I wonder? "Aw,people are not going to watch a show every week to figure whodunit in the first episode! They won't want to figure out clues and stuff." Yeah,because that's what hampers shows like 24,Lost and Heroes...NOT!

This has been an awkward season of VM but I feel that there's still some good in the cast and the writing to give it atleast another season here.

jim treacher said...

The FBI thing is interesting, and of course if it's the only way the show will survive I'll take it, but it'll be too bad if Bell has fewer opportunities to be a total goofball. The only title I can think of is The Echolls Files, which doesn't really work.

"At this point, though, I have to wonder...what exactly does it take to kill the lowest rated show on tv??"

If the critics start hating it as much as everything else on the CW?

jim treacher said...

P.S. I thought the "no season-long mystery" thing was from Rob Thomas, for story reasons?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yeah, it was Rob's idea, but one of those things I don't think Dawn Ostroff objected to very much.

Season two had a lot of problems, don't forget, and many of them related to the two season-long mystery arcs. I thought the shorter arcs plan was an interesting experiment that didn't totally work, though there were strong episodes in both storylines.

DonBoy said...

It's "Mars and Venus", Venus being the name of her (male!) partner or mentor. I can't say I'm proud, though.

Tobias said...

This point was originally made -- I believe -- by someone on the TWoP boards, but I think it bears repeating: one of the advantages of a jump forward in time would, I'd say, be to re-create some of the season one feeling of a backstory gradually revealed to the audience. I'd be up for that, I'd say...

Anonymous said...

I agree the CW is in serious trouble. They should just cancel Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, and 7th Heaven. Beauty and the Geek should become a year-round show and lead in to a new drama on Tuesday nights. Sundays should be used as a rerun night.

Right now they have way too many old shows on that network. They need some new blood and they have to start getting rid of some of the dead weight.

Elwood said...

[i]24[/i] has done time jumps between seasons. 18 months between S1 and 2; 3 years between S2 and 3.

[i]Rome[/i] moves forward with almost every episode...5 years or more with the most recent ep. I realize this is a necessary device to show all fo the historical high points before the series closes, but still.

I'm okay with the change in format, if it means keeping VM on the air for another year. It would be nice to see Kristen Bell play close to her own age (26) as well.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

It's hard to view this as anything but a Hail Mary attempt at getting enough episodes made to limp into syndication...but if that's the case why not do another year at college? Does anyone involved really think the FBI jump would lead to the show running for more than one more season -- a season with that funky "we're shaking things up in hopes that this won't be our last season" aroma (cf Angel, Homicide)?

All that said, I adore the show and would watch it no matter what happens, just about. If there is a fourth FBI season, I'd be entertained if they approached it the way 24 did its fourth season -- with most of the old cast members, other than the lead, offstage at the start of the season, and slowly coming back into the mix as the season progressed.

Anonymous said...

The WB actually tried the time jump once. "Zoe, Duncan, Jack, and Jane" was set in high school. When the show returned for its second season it was renamed "Zoe..." and set in college.

And it still flopped. In fact, I honestly can't think of a single instance in which a major revamp of a show has EVER worked.

Zodin2008 said...

It just worked to perfection on "Battlestar" in Part 1 of season 3. That's a very recent example of time jumping actually working.

That being said, I would take "Veronica" back in any form...there are so few shows that match the dialogue and have a lead as entertaining as Kristen Bell.

Anonymous said...

Why not send her undercover back to Neptune High?

There are several reasons that wouldn't work. But I have to say I can't really see her in suits all the time like FBI agents always are on TV...

I'm definitely in the bring-back-veronica-in-any-form camp. I think they HAVE to include Keith, and that shouldn't be too hard to do. I don't really see how they can keep Logan, though. Sure he's rich enough to follow her wherever he wants. I just don't see how they could string each other along romantically for so many years.

Zodin2008 said...

I agree...I would rather Keith over Logan, if given the choice.

DonBoy said...

In fact, I honestly can't think of a single instance in which a major revamp of a show has EVER worked.

But if they do work, and the original show wasn't catching on, you might forget the original entirely. For instance, the first season of Facts of Life had 7 girls, but it didn't become a success until the Blair-Tootie-Jo-Natalie format. VM has a higher bar to be labeled a "success", though.

Pete said...

Veronica Mars is my favorite show. However, I am very much against this FBI idea. It won't be the same show. The only thing that will be the same is Bell and that just isn't enough. Since Wallace and Mac basically aren't on the show any more and Piz and Parker really haven't been developed I would not be against a season that shows her summer internship at the FBI. However, jumping ahead and completely changing the premise of the show from a smart teenish drama to what amounts to The Closer with a cuter lead just doesn't do it for me.

Anonymous said...

I have faith that Rob Thomas and whatever is left of the cast could do a fine job with the new premise. I'm not ready to let these characters go!

Isabel said...

I heart VMars and will watch no matter what. But yeah, it seems like they are jumping the shark with this one.

And I imagine only Keith and Logan would stick around.

Anonymous said...

Fact is, the show just hasn't been that good this year. VM has been unsympathetic, and the romantic relationship is becoming irksome. She has gone from an almost real person with a wry ironic streak to a walking one-liner provider.

Sigh.

The only way this show will survive is if it becomes CSI: Neptune.

julied said...

Crazy idea: This weekend I got suckered into yet another local PBS station pledge drive. Over, and over again they talked about how public broadcasting is the "only place where you can find quality programming." So, that's when I decided this: "Masterpiece Theatre: Veronica Mars."

I am tired of having the "will they/ won't they renew the show annual crisis." My nerves are frazzled.

I wish they could bring the show to a medium NOT (as) dependant on advertising revenue. Hell, I would make massive pledges every year to get this show back on the air- tote bag, or no.

Anonymous said...

Revamps work when they are done on a show that isn't working and needs a new start for its second season.

But VM is going down the Alias route. Taking a show with devoted fans and rebooting it to get higher ratings, not seeing higher ratings, and rebooting again, not seeing more ratings, rebooting, etc.

Lynn said...

I'm in the "please bring Veronica back in any form" camp. I'm skeptical about Veronica as an FBI agent, though -- part of the appeal of the show is her moral greyness and her willingness to break the law in pursuit of what she believes is a higher purpose. FBI agents are more limited in their methods than PIs, and that seems like it will sap VM of a lot of the fun.

J said...

Probably just easier for sitcoms than dramas, but Valerie dumped its lead, changed its name (The Hogan Family), and later jumped networks.

Undercover Asian Man said...

I always thought that the main problem with the show's appeal was the very name "Veronica Mars". When it first came out and there was a publicity push, they would emphasize the "Mars" and "Neptune" play on words. This was a great disservice as it painted the whole series as some silly bubblegum flavored puffery, rather than the darker and smarter series it was (at least in year one). It's like they went out of their way to alienate males and older adults, just like the name "Gilmore Girls" assures no teenaged-to-20's male would ever be caught dead watching that show.

People who looked past the name and now watch the show have probably already adjusted mentally to the whole Mars/Neptune/Uranus (Jason Dohring) thing and don't notice how unnecessarily silly it all is, but I can see how the vibe of just this little bit of cutesiness did enough to cripple the show in it's formative years.

For me, Season 2 was so obscure that it actually embarrassed me that I tried to push other males to give it a chance. I still get crap for it. I watched some of this season, until it seemed like the whole adolescent love theme was going to dominate - a sure sign of pandering and panicking about ratings. It's not worth sitting through the lovelorn junk just for their very good one-liners.

If they go the FBI route, and thus logically can't keep the cast of characters, why not blow it all up and start from scratch? Just make a new show staring Kristin Bell, forget all the "Mars" stuff. The new show can 'wink' at the audience with guest appearances of past "Mars" people, but can also leave behind the stink of planetary cutesiness to try to find a new audience with a fresh start.

Anonymous said...

It's been said before, but how is Veronica going to become an FBI agent when she's now helped two fugitives escape the country? Not only that, but can someone really go from being a freshman in college to an FBI agent in four years? Aren't the requirements, y'know, rigorous?

A couple of people on TWoP have come up with some plausible and possibly interesting plotlines: like Lynn Echolls' body shows up and she's only just died, or Keith dies and Lianne is implicated and Veronica has to investigate. (Personally, I'd change the latter to: Lianne dies and Keith is implicated - that would keep Keith as part of the plot but could be the source of some good drama.)

But most of the good suggestions I've seen could just as well work if Veronica took over Mars Investigations. Veronica just loves flouting rules too much to fit in with the FBI, and she's already on their radar as an alleged law-breaker (not to mention, the kinds of cases she'd be put on as a federal agent would probably preclude most of the rest of the cast from being involved). I don't really want to see her become a blonde, perky version of Fox Mulder, thanks.

Other said...

Other TV time jumps? Let's see, The Flintstones sprung forward a decade and a half with the debut of The Pebbles and Bamm Bamm Show in the early '70s. Trapper John, M.D., leapt ahead TWO and a half decades from 1951 into 1978 when Wayne Rogers declined to reprise his M*A*S*H role stateside and the then-modern-day Pernell Roberts was brought into to replace him. Dallas of course fell BACK a year when Patrick Duffy returned to the cast a year after being killed off in TV wife Pamela's dream.

But most bizarre, Gimme a Break! moved ahead several months after its fourth season cliffhanger, involving the quickie Las Vegas wedding of blustery series star Dolph Sweet's underage TV daughter. When Sweet died in the off-season, there was just no way to resolve the wedding storyline without that father character's input, so it was decided to pick up the series past the point where all those issues had been resolved and the "Chief" had finally given them his blessing. The teens stayed married and it was explained that Sweet's character had passed away sometime later.

Dennis Wilson said...

Hey, the Blogger dropped my sig! That was me above with the Trapper John entry, et al.

Anonymous said...

didn't six feet under do a time jump from season 2 to 3 like a year maybe.

@donboy: i like the title "mars and venus"

Mel said...

I just keep getting stuck on how on EARTH the FBI is going to let her apply for a job (or even an internship!) when they have investigated her as a suspect in a kidnapping case...

Tosy And Cosh said...

What I like about the FBI idea is that it could play to the idea that Veronica really is some sort of prodigy. The show has never made an overt point of it, but they really do present her and her abilities as remarkable, and I would love to see them delve deeper into that idea, the idea that she is the equivalant of a LeBron James in the world of detecting. And I think an interesting overall conflict could be set up between her youth and lack of experience and uncanny abilities.

Ed said...

Don't hate me. :)

Saved by the Bell when Screech returned as a teacher?

ooda said...

Anonymous said...
didn't six feet under do a time jump from season 2 to 3 like a year maybe.


Yeah, I forgot about that one. Wasn't it based around the time when Nate and Lisa got married, and Maya had grown up a bit?

But to the other Anon, I have the same feelings exactly. She was too much of a beloved aunt this season (at least the amount of time I could tolerate watching).

Anonymous said...

>what would you call the new show?

TVSPKAVM al-la Prince?

{TV show previously known as Veronica Mars...}

Anne said...

I am a huge Veronica Mars fan and would watch it no matter what. I think if the writers do it correctly the FBi could be a great thing for Veronica.
One thing I want to know is why does the CW show all other shows a couple times a weak and never did this for Veronica Mars. They have not done enough advertising to make this show work.