Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Veronica Mars: Rob Thomas is a whore

Hey, Piz said it, not me. Far as I'm concerned, Rob Thomas is a good guy.

Spoilers for the "Veronica Mars" series finale -- and thank you very much, CW promo guys, for that taunting "season finale" ad right before it started, as if there's any value in pretending it's not dead -- coming up just as soon as I seal up our doggie door...

Sigh... Rob said he was very happy with how they ended the season, and he was right. These two episodes were easily the highlight of this self-contained bloc, and the finale was by far the best episode of the season -- probably up in my top 5 "Veronica" episodes ever. I still can't blame Dawn Ostroff and Moonves for pulling the plug -- the audience had very clearly rejected this show -- but I feel a lot sadder about it now than I would have if we had ended after, say, the Uganda episode, or even the Paul Rudd episode.

Or maybe I'm just feeling sad because of what Veronica did to Keith. My wife felt that was a lousy ending for the show, but it felt right to me. This began as a noir show, and while those influences waned in the later seasons (especially after Lamb died and Keith became sheriff), I was glad to have it back for the finale. Veronica's always had this bull in a china shop approach, and she's gotten away with it with few repercussions for herself or the people she cared about. Not this time. Great work by Enrico Colantoni as Keith began realizing he was investigating his daughter, and equally great work by Kristen when she finally came home after Jake Kane told her there was no fixing this for Keith. Veronica casting a futile vote for Keith and walking off into the rain is a bleak ending, but strangely appropriate. We're left dangling a bit on what will happen to Keith -- He'll almost certainly lose the election, but will he do jail time? Lose his PI license, too? -- but as series-ending danglers go, I've seen far, far worse ("Now And Again" being the one that messed with me the most).

And it also felt appropriate to return, at the end, to the show's other core elements: Veronica taking on the rich and powerful (both the fraud ring and, especially, The Castle), Veronica as a school outcast (and having an undeserved reputation as a whore), Veronica squaring off with Jake Kane and Clarence Wiedman, Veronica being at odds with law-enforcement, etc.

It was great -- and, since I either didn't notice his name in the guest credits or they kept it until the end, surprising -- to have Kyle Secor back. His delivery of "Veronica Mars? VERONICA MARS?!?!?!" was a thing of beauty, and the huge portraits of Duncan and Lilly in the mansion were both a callback to the show's origins and a reminder of how much Jake has lost. His daughter's dead. His son is going to be a fugitive for the rest of his life. His wife seems gone. Now he's just a cranky rich man with only his stupid secret society to take care of. I'd feel a little sorry for him if he wasn't, you know, such a bastard.

Along the way, we had characters who had either been too absent or too uninteresting returning to prominence and form: Weevil is planting a foot (probably on the injured leg) back on the wrong side of the criminal line, Wallace is flying model planes and making sacrifices for Veronica, Logan has violence issues, and Mac is using her mad computer skills to help Veronica (I can't remember the last time she did this on a case). After a season in which the supporting cast felt adrift and too often absent, it was nice to have them all back and all acting like I remembered them, and none of it felt like a reset button was being hit.

Some briefer, more specific thoughts on the episodes to follow:
  • I didn't see the point of the answering machine payoff in the first episode. If Veronica had the whole thing recorded on her Sidekick, what does it matter if the machine at the office did or didn't get it? (Also, one of my few nitpicks of the episodes: How do these techno-savvy fraudsters not recognize that Veronica could be screwing them one of 17 different ways with that Sidekick?)
  • Wallace wearing the electro-shock collar was massively creepy -- and made me even more invested in Veronica taking them down -- only to be surpassed in the creepy factor by Gory's confession about his dad and uncle and the woodshop.
  • And speaking of Gory, I suppose Logan's fate is also something of a dangler, but he's always had a death wish, so it fit.
  • One other complaint: Dick wallowing in guilt over how he treated Cassidy didn't really work (the character's been too shallow for far too long to make me care about his feelings now) and was abruptly dropped as soon as he found the Veronica/Piz sex video.
  • The sound on my DVR dropped out for almost the entire scene in the first hour where Wallace was told about The Castle. Was anything useful said? And did anyone not assume that the sex tape came from a Castle camera planted to keep an eye on Wallace?
  • Kristen sings one last time! Too bad it wasn't something more interesting than "Bad Day," even if that was appropriate (and funny) for the situation.
What did everybody else think?

37 comments:

Mike Mac said...

RE: the answering machine... as I understood it, Veronica did NOT record the whole conversation, because of the short run time of the answering machine, but was able to trick the mob of identity thieves into thinking she had the evidence she needed. This wouldnt be a first.


Overall, I thought that if this were the last Veronica episode, it left on a high note and had just the right amount of closure without wrapping things up in a bow. Does Logan's fate matter as much as our knowledge that he was willing to accept it either way in order to stand up for Veronica? Ditto with Keith, and Wallace, and just about everyone on the show.

Sad, torn to pieces, to lose the show, but certainly pleased with the 2 hour send-off anyway.

Alan Sepinwall said...

RE: the answering machine... as I understood it, Veronica did NOT record the whole conversation, because of the short run time of the answering machine, but was able to trick the mob of identity thieves into thinking she had the evidence she needed. This wouldnt be a first.

See, but I assumed she recorded it on the Sidekick itself. Does it not have a voice-recording function? It seems capable of doing everything else.

Devin McCullen said...

The sound on my DVR dropped out for almost the entire scene in the first hour where Wallace was told about The Castle. Was anything useful said? And did anyone not assume that the sex tape came from a Castle camera planted to keep an eye on Wallace?

Well, I didn't, but I often miss stuff. In the scene you missed, the guy just asks Wallace if he's heard of The Castle, and tells him he's been tapped.

Anyway, yeah, the first ep was good, the second was outstanding. You always know a good VM episode when you think back on how many plot points they covered and are amazed they got them all in without seeming rushed.

They did list Secor as a guest star, but I hadn't put it together, so I was shocked by the Lilly picture (it also helped that it was pretty creepy looking).

I'm sorry this is it for the show, but given the ratings, what could you expect? I'm happy we got 3 seasons of it.

bill p said...

The audio on my DVR dropped out at the exact same point. "Have you heard of The Castle?" "..........." It was like those cellphone commercials.

Glad to see them finally making a Rob Thomas joke, even if it was one of the most shoehorned exchanges ever worked into a VM scene.

Kristin said...

And did no one else find the moment of Veronica shaving her legs with a Venus razor a little shoehorned in? That was a weird, bizarre nothing of a scene all to show the Venus in action?

Anyway, great pair of episodes. Good send-off because it made me sad there wouldn't be more next season. Nice to go out with really good episodes and all the characters getting a chance to do their thing.

I like that Weevil will never be able to rise above his thug background. I like that Logan will always come to Veronica's defense, even if she doesn't want him to. I like that Wallace walked into that warehouse and sat through zap torture for Veronica. I liked that she and Piz were merely still just messing around, rather than getting it on.

Oh, Veronica, how I'll miss you.

Jaynee said...

Ugh. I HATED the season (series) finale on so many levels. Yes, it's began as a noir show. But why oh why did they mess with the characters so much? Dick (in a box) was the most grossly changed and it was downright annoying. Why on earth would Rob Thomas allow him to briefly be guilty or emotional for TWO EPISODES when Cassidy has been dead all season? We should have seen even GLIMPSES of that during this whole season.

And to me the second episode DID feel rushed when you consider it was technically a "two-hour" finale. I mean, they didn't even BEGIN to wrap things up until 3/4s of the way through that second hour!

I do agree, though, that Enrico MADE that episode. Love him.

Maybe I just hyped up the finale too much before watching it. I was expecting greatness and feel like the rug got cut out from under me.

DonBoy said...

Yeah, this got us back to the point that's always been the payoff of the arcs: everything looks like fun and games until someone loses a metaphoric eye. We're not kidding around here, little girl.

Secor was credited at the top of his ep, so you're lucky you missed it.

I was convinced, by the way, that Wallace was turning double agent -- presuambly with Veronica's, but not the audience's, knowledge -- because of the jump from the second asking of "what item did you bring in?" to him reappearing outside. Remember, in a mystery, if we didn't see it, it might not have happened. But I guess not.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"I like that Wallace walked into that warehouse and sat through zap torture for Veronica."

That was a nice callback to the first episode -- which, IIRC, opened with Veronica rescuing Wallace from the flagpole. It also illustrated how much Wallace has grown since then, and how much he's willing to do for Veronica...last season's finale suggested that Wallace's life would have been much worse if not for her, and this episode suggests that he's well aware of it.

Mike Mac said...

See, but I assumed she recorded it on the Sidekick itself. Does it not have a voice-recording function? It seems capable of doing everything else.

While I don't have a Sidekick myself, it looks like that is exactly the case... it can do EVERYTHING BUT voice-recording.

Even the $450 Dwayne Wade model doesn't list this under the features. Strange.
http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/phones/detail.aspx?tp=tb2&device=d8c993f7-02a7-4416-9f51-19662f3498f0

I can't believe I just spent time on that. I'm going to miss this show.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Thanks for the research, Mike Mac. Huh. Presumably, though, her cell service has voicemail, so the payoff still didn't make any sense. I mean, it shows Veronica's savvy in that she was able to bluff these rich kids, but it doesn't make sense within the world Veronica lives. It just didn't seem necessary. But it's a really minor quibble in the middle of two very strong episodes.

Jaynee, these episodes were not made to air together. It was just the way the scheduling worked out. They wrapped up the first mystery near the end of the first hour, did the cliffhanger with the sex video, then paid that off at the end of the second. The pacing seemed perfectly fine, even with the double-feature scheduling.

R.A. Porter said...

My wife watched and really enjoyed. She thought the finale was great and was happy to see the return of some of the great characters. I didn't watch and didn't care to. I only half watched the Paul Rudd episode. It wasn't because I was too sad it was ending, because based on this season it was time to shuffle off. And then it hit me.

Piz.

Veronica used to be a girl I'd want to know and even hang with once in a while. I mean, there'd be shenanigans aplenty with Ronnie. I've never been a 'shipper, but at least with Logan one could see why a confident, strong, intelligent, independent girl might be interested. A little walk on the dark side and all. But Piz? Seriously? That made me completely rethink Veronica Mars as a person. If I knew Piz, I'd pants him just to make him cry. If someone I knew dated him, I'd shake my head in dismay and walk away. And that's what I did.

Clearly, I have issues with emos. My wife doesn't get my hatred, and I'm sure no one else will either, but man that dude's a weenie.

Anonymous said...

How did the last twenty minutes of the first hour get resolved? My DVR cut that part out!

kat said...

I will SO miss this show.

How people gave up on it is a mystery! Even at it's worst... VM was better than most stuff on tv.

I thought last night's two episodes were terrific. Veronica was in rare form... so much like the first season. Gosh I wish I was as quick witted!

I really liked the ending. It was real and made me say, damn, I can't believe it's over :(

Kristin said...

Piz is not an emo. He's just a boring, dull, kinda safe guy. And after dating the mess that is Logan, going for someone like this, if even just temporarily, makes sense to me as a girl.

When she told Logan she wasn't having sex with Piz, it showed us that this was true. Piz was no love-of-her-life type. What girl hasn't tried dating the 'friend' who has a huge crush on you just to see if you're missing something?

And I think she was starting to figure out that she wasn't missing much. Piz is not enough of a match for her. She needs someone smarter, tougher, and bolder.

But as a rebound relationship, he makes sense.

R.A. Porter said...

Kristin, from my wife's take on my Piz-hatred I thought it might be a boy-girl disconnect. Now I wonder if any other boys hate him as much as I do. :)

Sean said...

It's also strange that they never actively looked for the Castle camera in Piz/Wallace's room. And what was Gory's motivation to defame Veronica? Surely using Castle surveillance for such horndog activities would bring undesired attention their way (as it did).

Lindy said...

I actually liked the first hour more than the second. Even though the return of Jake Kane was awesome, I thought the Castle was too over-the-top -- shock collars? video surveillance? total confessions? Veronica sneaking into a secret initiation with a camera, again? Maybe I'm just burned out on conspiracy theories, but it all seemed too elaborate and omnipotent. But the episode still worked because it brought out so many good moments between Veronica and her supporting cast -- especially Keith.

Part of me wishes Veronica had been sent off with a less ambiguous victory, but the ending was indeed very noir and true to both the show and the characters. Conspiracy burnout aside, these two hours left me even sadder about the cancellation.

Lindy said...

One more thing -- I agree with you, Sean. It seems like Gory would get in trouble for circulating Castle surveillance tapes to his non-Castle buddies. I assumed for a while that the fake ID ring was linked to the Castle and that the tape was released as revenge, but it seemed like Gory was just distributing the video because he felt like it. And if they tape all of the Castle guys' dorm rooms, this can't be the first time they've caught a couple on tape, why circulate this one?

Pete said...

I never cared who Veronica dated. She could have gone out with Vinny Van Lowe or even Dick and I wouldn't have cared. I watched the show for the mysteries and the big Lebowski lines. I hated Piz because I thought the money would be better spent on more Wallace, Mac and Co. That was proven in the final episode where Piz barely shows up and Wallace and Mac are featured prominently.

I thought the ending was appropriate. I was prepared for this to be the end after this season had been all over the place, it just seemed right. After watching last night I was genuinely sad that it was over. Those two eps had what I loved about this show and why I will miss it. I never get sad when shows I watch get canceled but I was sad over this.

Some other thoughts:

- If you are in a secret society, emphasis on secret, why would you release a hidden camera sex tape? No good can come of it. It can always be traced back to you eventually.

- How did Weevil let them into the computer room? Did they give him his job back? Can that card reader make full access cards as well as full money cards?

- I don't think Keith goes to jail. It was too late to save the election for him since the charges were filed and the article written but I think Jake uses his pull to make the whole thing go away.

The Venus razer line was part of a series of product placements and mentions that led up to the "Rob Thomas is a whore" payoff.

I would have liked to have seen a season with Vinny as sheriff. He was always funnier than Lamb.

Blogger is also a whore. I have been trying to post this for a half hour and keep getting errors.

R.A. Porter said...

Not exactly "breaking" news, but Rob Marshall doesn't seem done yet: Veronica movie?

julied said...

Question, are we to believe that Wallace did actually run over that homeless man in Chicago? During his interrogation, didn't he say something about his father breaking the law for him?

Anonymous said...

I loved season one, really liked season two, but was somewhat ambivalent about season three.

One thing that bugged me about season three was there was no mention or investigation of the Aaron Echolls murder.

Did I miss something?

Christy said...

Loved the last two episodes enough to make me sad it is gone.

I agree Piz was wimpy. But it seems to this old girl that a lot of the young adult males promoted as sexy in commercials and such are testosterone lite.

Do you figure it was all the product placements that allowed them to bring in the entire cast in the final episode thus giving Piz less prominence?? And giving the line to him was, therefore, choice?

dez said...

My wife felt that was a lousy ending for the show, but it felt right to me.

I'm with the Divine Ms. M. It was a good ep, but as a series finale, it sucked because I WANT MORE! AUGH!!!

Undercover Asian Man said...

These past few episodes, particularly the very last one, clearly demonstrated the reason why I liked and hated this show.

Every scene with Veronica and mystery solving had me alert and interested. She is most interesting when acting on her own, within her own context as PI or daughter. It is the story of Veronica I care to watch.

Every scene with Veronica as girlfriend or former girlfriend made me moan. It reduced her to subservient side-character. It makes her seem like every other love-lorn, "Tiger-Beat" reading teen out there, instead of the girl who gets a PI license at 19 and throws herself into danger because she is compelled to seek truth. That this same girl would throw herself at either Piz or Logan, two one-note losers who are both WAY to co-dependent to be attractive to an independent woman, betrays the other Veronica I like much better.

Rob Thomas is a whore. I hope he learns a lesson from the rise and fall of Veronica Mars. Stay true to your characters and story. Don't sell out and give Veronica a teen soap anchor-around-the-neck tone because some dumb network thinks its needed. Doing so bought you one additional season, but at the cost of the characters' integrity and also Rob's own.

If he would have chosen to stay true to his story telling ideas and characters, and rejected the pedestrian-mind meddling of uncreative accountants, VM would have probably ended after Season 2, without the ruination that was Season 3 that, by itself, takes this show out of the pantheon of all time greats.

I've lost a lot of respect for Rob Thomas as a story-teller, knowing his integrity as an artist has a price tag, and do not look forward to any of his new projects because of this. Unless he stays true to himself, he will remain a one-hit wonder who will be given other chances simply because he has demonstrated an ability to be another's lap-dog.

Dan Coyle said...

Now and Again?

"FIND THEM! Find a scent, find a trail- FIND THEM!"

Oh man, Alan, don't remind me...

R.A. Porter said...

(Uh, don't ask why I always mix up Rob Thomas's and Rob Marshall's names as I did earlier. I'm completely mystified by it.)

Rob Thomas isn't a one-hit wonder. He created Cupid, Jeremy Piven's tragically killed show. Though casting Paula Marshall should have been perceived as an omen.

theblankscreen said...

Alan

I will miss the show...not on the strength of this last season...but over all.


When it was cooking on classical gas...this was the sharpest, best written observered show on telly....

The last few episodes...sorry Alan... they where really lame.

Mystery? ...no.
Surprise? ...no.

It was nice to see VM as the underdog...rumors about her...people talking about her etc etc...but I felt all this did was highlight the very thing that made VM great...and the very thing we have been missing for most of the season VM was the outsider... riducled, mocked, despised...these were the ingredients missing from the entire season.

I was completely invested when she was in danger through the emotional vunerability of the video tape...

theblankscreen said...

...and as i hit the publish button on a draft....

but really i felt this was overall a sleepwalking season for the character...

The network wanted something different. Rob tried to facilitate them. and i think the show feel bewteen 2 masters.

When it was good..... it was great...


So long VM rest in peace with Buffy .

Sean said...

Undercover Asian Man, I used to say that film was the most collaborative medium, but that was before I watched a lot of hourlong television. A quality TV program has to be one of the toughest rows to hoe, and we see evidence of that everywhere -- spotty seasons of 24, the fact that HBO showrunners take such neverending hiatuses (hiati?), flame-out sophomore seasons, etc. To call Rob Thomas (and this is not about Thomas/VM fandom as much as they are just the case in point) a lapdog because he chose to act creatively and collaboratively and preserve VM into a third season on essentially a new network is preposterouly out of line with the practical realities of the TV business. Not only are TV shows relatively autonomous business units/employers that showrunners feel compelled to maintain because of the people they employ (and VM is a big part of the San Diego film scene, as I understand it), but Thomas lucked into amazing chemistry -- Bell/Colantoni as father-daughter is one for the record books, Bell/Dohring is something else and Daggs, Majorino, Capra and Hansen are big wins too, adding up to what may have been TV's strongest ensemble, plus a fine damned writing staff. That Thomas was willing to try to prolong the magic on the CW for a slightly different demographic under different network mandates is hardly ignoble. "The ruination that was Season 3 that, by itself, takes this show out of the pantheon of all time greats?" "I've lost a lot of respect for Rob Thomas as a story-teller, knowing his integrity as an artist has a price tag, and do not look forward to any of his new projects because of this." Come on. We're not talking about Heroes, or the last two seasons of X-Files, where there's a struggle to achieve "good." Veronica Mars is/was always good, and in art, the perfect is the enemy of the good. Hermetic Comic Book Guy/TWOP bullshit doesn't apply.

Jennifer J. said...

Alan, your column about VM really speaks to me. I loved this show even when it couldn't be what it was in the first season. Even though the show wrapped its season beautifully, I'm bitter the CW didn't have the grace and class to give it a true series finale. Seeing that season finale teaser by the CW was just a stab in the heart.

I'm sad to not have the show anymore even if networks gave it sooooo many "fair shakes." I'm sad b/c it had the best father/daughter relationship on TV. I will miss their dynamic and how. My father and I have a very similar relationship (minus the P.I. biz, but of course) which makes the show's ending really hit me even harder.

I cannot wait to show my husband the thing of beauty that is VM, Season 1. He got hooked at the end of last season (I told him he would.)

Goodbye, Veronica Mars. Goodbye, Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni, Percy Daggs III, Jason Dohring, Francis Capra, Tina Majorino, Ryan Hansen, the Kanes, Sherrif Lamb, Deputy Sacks, Leo, Cliff and, gross, even Vinnie (the thought of him as Sheriff...hilarious and disgusting!) Thank you for all you've given us.

Tamar said...

Any chance you'll do a post-series interview with Rob Thomas? I'd love to know what he'd envisioned happening next. Will Logan have a showdown with the Russian Mob? Does Rob think Logan would survive? Will Veronica change her semi-illegal ways now that her behavior has brought her father's career down? Will Piz give Veronica the "You're still in love with him" speech to match Parker's speech to Logan in the finale? Does law-flouting Veronica run up against the rules-and-regulations aspect of the FBI in her internship?

Y'know, stuff like that. The closure we'll never get onscreen. It would be awfully nice to know what's in his head.

(Or, well, whatever you want to ask. I'd mostly just be curious to hear from him.)

Syme said...

I too was disturbed that she'd not look for the camera first thing.

I'd assume the Sidekick would do audio recording but will allow the suspension of disbelief needed for the plot.

In short, there were lots of things wrong with the episodes, but so many bigger things right; the ambiguity, the dark close [but not a ending..]. It took me full circle back to the tail of the pilot as she drives away questioning what was next...

Gina said...

I actually found Dick's suffering was very fitting. From the start of the season Dick had been a wreak over his brother's death. Whenever he starts the drink he thinks of Cassidy. So leave the writers be.. I've grown to love Dick.

EugĂȘnio Hertz said...

Too bad that things ended up like that.

When veronica was about to face the biggest enemy she could get on Neptune, when she was mostly into hard action, the series just PUUFF...
into the air.

It was a moment for me to see Lilly´s portrait (painting). At that moment i really thought like "fuck this is going darker now".

Then, when she could cut a great deal (in advantage for her), she just let the hard drive go, and forgot that she still had all the data copied from the original hard drive, which she could really make clarence and lilly´s father to imitate dogs if she wanted to... that moment, she just knew it was too late for her father situation, and went away...

What happened to all secrets she had in possession? Wasnt Lilly´s father afraid of such info to be released and completely expose the "castle society"????

At the same time she found another enemy at school, that stupid boy who framed her, and by what he looked like, he was like all the time behing daddys money.

Piz was kinda out, and logan was kinda in her life again. Nerves were set on fire.

That stupid PI was almost elected as the new sheriff, her mother was away, and clarence was with his attentions on what veronica was doing from that point on.

But something has broken up. Audience as EVER was getting out of a good product, looking probably for something like YEAHHH YEAHH YEAHH ZEROES series.

And then the definitive 4th season went out to our live on our wishes...

What a hell of a ride that 4th season would be. Declared enemies, problems all around, missing relationships, espionage, tension, secrets.

WOULD REEALY be the great ending for the show. Fuck that pilot as an fbi grown up... Veronica was best known as a mature teenager becoming an adult, and not a damn fbi agent.

Lucy Lawless could make recurring appearances, making veronica close to the FBI thing along the season, and veronica herself to continue her learning process to make the right bindings needed to make it through the criminal world.

Instead, it just ended somehow like the stephen king´s endings - "make yourself the ending as you like it to be"

Great moments. Great series. Everyone did it well, but this missing 4th season will be missed.


Thanks to all that read this post

Eugenio Hertz
eugenio_hz@yahoo.com

circelily said...

The UK is finally running this on free-to-view and as there have never been DVDs here, that is a beautiful thing that had me spinning to the Internets and devouring 3 years in 3 weeks. It was a hell of a show, and it really seems insane that it was savaged by so many of its former fans in what became its final year. Respect is due.

kj said...

I, too, watched three seasons of Veronica Mars on the computer in a span of a couple months. I thought season 3 was better than many of the fans who post here and elsewhere. While I prefer the central story arcs of season 1 and 2, I think season 3 was full of terrific character moments. And I liked that the season finale was suggestive without hitting the audience with a hammer. Series finales often fail because they try to do too much; the season 3 finale left strong possible plot threads open for a season 4, even though season 4 did not happen. The last two episodes provided a nice spotlight on all the old and new characters...
Ahh, I will miss my late night evenings watching Veronica Mars on the computer. I look forward to seeing much of the old gang reunited on next season's Party Down.