Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Veronica Mars: You give love quadrangles a bad name

"Veronica Mars" spoilers coming up just as soon as I have a teen movie marathon...

I already dealt with the whole FBI thing in this morning's column. If Warner Bros. hadn't sent me both tonight's episode and next week's, I would be very ready to see the end of "Veronica: The College Years," because this one was a big flat dud, but next week's is a lot of fun. But we'll talk about the awesomeness of Mr. Paul Rudd next week, while right now we're stuck talking about some "Afterschool Special"-level speechifying about racial profiling and the Iraq war, plus the latest non-interesting development in the love quadrangle. (This show and "Battlestar Galactica" are really scorching the earth for all future TV quadrangles, aren't they?)

In fairness, I rather liked the Keith fake ID plot, and not just because I was glad to see Jack McGee employed during the "Rescue Me" hiatus. Keith runs a much tighter ship than Lamb, so a sheriff's department culture clash seemed inevitable. Plus, it provided some good conflict between Keith (back to being the establishment) and Veronica (still the outlaw), as well as some long-absent Keith/Wallace interaction (as well as him busting on "Stosh"). I also liked some of the non-quadrangle aspects of the party, like Dick getting his comeuppance and the inevitable meeting of Mac and Max.

But the mystery of the week was a snooze, and I'm long past caring about Logan and Veronica. The idea of Piz kissing Veronica into submission was a bit surprising, I'll give you, but I can't even get too invested in that because I know in the back of my mind that it's an incredibly slim chance that the show will return next year with Veronica still in college (and therefore, with this relationship in any way a factor).

I'm trying not to sound too harsh, because I really do like next week's show, but this wasn't exactly triumphant return. What did everybody else think?

33 comments:

jim treacher said...

Maybe you don't like watching Kristen Bell kiss the shy boy, but some of us can still dream...

Anonymous said...

I thought the "Afterschool Special"-level speechifying of the underage drinking was a bit much, as well. Both Keith and Veronica consistently broke the law as private investigators and did all types of things and took advantage of all types of people. The type of moral superiority that Keith seemed out of character on an issue like fake IDs, especially when he consistently sent his own high school aged daughter into far more dangerous situations than a sixer of PBR.

Scooter McGavin said...

I though it was a great episode, it had me laughing most of the way threw. I just wished the Ronnie/Dick elevator scene was longer (and Dick would be my friend on MySpace). Plus I love the return, albeit short return of Principal Clemmons. And the cheif from Rescue Me was great too, seriously, you can't go wrong with combining the two best shows on TV.

Carmichael Harold said...

Maybe absence makes expectations grow higher, but this seemed like an episode written by the teen soap equivalent of Donald Kaufman. Or perhaps Rob Thomas is just trying to make the likely end of VMars less painful when it happens. In any event, I'm pleased that next week's episode will be better, because this was disappointing.

DonBoy said...

Of all the arguments against 19-year-olds drinking in a bar, "He might walk out into the road and get hit by a car" has got to be way down there. Better morals of that story might be "cut off a customer who's that drunk", or possibly "a driver should be able to avoid hitting someone who wanders into the road that far ahead of the car".

Mac said...

And even if the show comes back next year, the guy who plays Piz, whatshisname, was in a pilot so I assume he's done with the show.

Anonymous said...

The heavy bits fell flat, especially the "America" speech, but I liked Keith and the bartender, and Dick is such a sleazy loser I couldn't help but laugh.

Best of all, though: "Say 'what' again!"

Rick said...

The episode was uneven, but when it hit I thought it was really good. Also, given the track record for season three I was SHOCKED to see so many supporting cast members in one episode, let alone in one scene.

Also great were the several(?) call backs to storylines going back as far as season one.

Tina said...

Alan, I'm with you, and more. To me that was the worst VM episode so far. It was excruciatingly boring, poorly written and directed, with horrendous acting from most day players. But the worst offender prize goes to the dialogue, usually guaranteed to be good-to-great in a VM episode -tonight there were clunkers galore. I couldn't be happy that most of the cast was used because of the badly plotted relationship stuff. Even the callbacks managed to get past stuff wrong: why bring up VM S1 trivia as the Pirate Points only to get it wrong; Mac never hiked, even when she was dragged to all those camping trips by her family? Glad to hear next week is better, but it is obvious that creatively the show is on its last legs.

Undercover Asian Man said...

Why set the next series with the FBI when we can watch Veronica become a member of the U.N. and broker peace in the Middle East using a tracking device and some gum? That "Can't we all just get along' speech had me cringing at how phony the show treated race relations and anger.

Keith acting as "The Man" is lame and boring. They've made him a eunuch, where once he had a real dangerous edge to himself and his work. Next Week: Keith saves cats stuck in trees, warns of dangers of violent video games.

Sure sign that a show has run out of ideas and is willing to betray all its established history of credible story telling: Love Triangles. Nothing but love triangles. It's Joan of Arcadia syndrome all over again.

Way more criminal than giving away fake ID's is shooting someone anywhere close to an unprotected face with a paintball gun. I play paintball, and those shots at that range could easily be seriously damaging, especially anywhere near the eyes. If they wanted realism, those kids would have been FREAKING OUT after the first shot she took point-blank. And Veronica should have turned them in for assault with a deadly weapon as a way bigger concern than assuring good take-out food. What those kids were doing was way worse than spray-painting, and would have had the whole police station on high alert after them.

I don't care how much promise next week's show is supposed to contain, this series has run out of interesting things to say with these characters in this environment, less it fall into self-parody (wherever Veronica goes, grisly death is sure to follow, etc.).

As I said before, if they are going to try to reboot the series using the FBI backdrop, just blow up Neptune in total and announce a new series starring Kristen Bell as someone else.

Kris said...

Wow. Everyone really didn't like this episode. I didn't think it was that horrible. Maybe because I was glad to see Logan have a normal relationship with someone else that was good for him. Plus, I've felt so badly for Piz and his big old crush. It was nice to see him go for it. Not sure what is going through Veronica's mind...seems like she was more lonely than anything and Piz was a good guy to grab on to.

I was also glad to see some realism between Veronica and her dad. I mean, eventually she had to get caught doing something bad by her dad. Plus, they are obviously setting up some kind of conflict for her father as interim sheriff.

It seemed more of a between episode...setting up new storylines and possible tensions. The mystery was extremely secondary to that.

I was just glad to see Veronica back on the air.

Curious George said...

You know, I try to give this show a little suspension of disbelief because of its very nature. But as the above folks have said, Keith Mars' actions as sheriff were just dumb. They were written by someone who knows nothing about how sheriffs departments operate or prioritize case intake. I don't expect TV writers to be experts on these subject, but I hope that they would make a tiny effort to see if their characters are behaving the way a real person with that occupation would.

This worries me. If this is how they handle Mars as Sheriff, how the heck are they going to handle his daughter as a fed?

Anonymous said...

As a former hardcore fan of VM, it saddens me to see how awful the show is now with its lame jokes ( the dialogue was disappointing tonight), romantic quadrangles with very little chemistry, Keith as sheriff busting kids for drinking and fake ID's (it was done more interestingly in season 1), characters who serve no purpose beyond setting up romantic obstacles and offensive storylines.

I actually remember season 1 and that Dick is a person who drugs women against their will, in order to have sex with them. And I remember that Veronica knows this as well. Too bad Rob Thomas, and the critics in the media who continue to describe her as a "role model" for young women, don't seem to remember that.

I did like seeing more of the old supporting cast, like Mac and Wallace, but I really miss Weevil. And I miss Jason Dohring having an interesting role to play. What a waste. I will watch one more episode because I like Paul Rudd, but I think this show has had all the chances it deserves.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Rob has said that the 10-minute FBI trailer will definitely be on the season three DVD.

Jon Delfin said...

Was there a B (or C) story about Coach Barry's widow that landed on the cutting room floor? Tracey Needham was listed in the top guest credits.

Tobias said...

Count me in on the "didn't hate it" camp. Liked the fake ID plotline; liked seeing Wallace; enjoyed the bits with Dick. I think I prefer this quadrangle so far to BSG's, though that's not exactly high praise.

The main storyline, for me, never quite worked, mainly because of the father/restaurant owner category. He went from a near-constant state of anger to making the Big Speech at episode's end, without much middle ground.

Not one of the stronger episodes of the show, but I liked more than I disliked.

Pandyora said...

Not an amazing episode by any stretch, yet it was filled with some quality lines. The Pulp Fiction "say what again, I dare you" line. Wallace's "we don't all look alike Mr. Mars" line.

In Rob Thomas's defense, its must be hard to put together a "triumphant return" when the network cut short your season and put you on a multi-week hiatus.

I'll take these episodes for what they are - the last gasp of a well-made, laugh-out-loud funny teen soap that should have found a larger audience and a more supportive network.

dez said...

Put me in the bored silly camp. I was so bored, I missed what happened to Mac's boyfriend. Er, what happened to Mac's boyfriend?

I hope next week's ep is as good as you say, Alan, or I might stop hoping for a fourth season of VM because if it goes anything like this ep, I'm bailing out.

Kris said...

Alan, that's cool news about the trailer. I will rent the DVD from Netflix, then, just so I can see it! Thanks for that tip. :-)

Dark Tyler said...

Wow, when I compared this show to The O.C. yesterday, I didn't have The O.C.'s season 3 in mind, but there you go.

Loved MacMax, though.

electricia said...

I can't believe no one has mentioned the cake (unless I missed it in the comments)! Oh, the cake. With Logan and Parker's picture on it. When did Logan and Parker go have a Sears portrait taken, and more importantly, WHY?! And why would Parker make such a point of being nice to Veronica, then give her the cake with Logan's face on it?

Oh god, the cake.

Also, didn't Veronica break up with Logan? So why the heck is she pining over him anyway?

I didn't hate the episode, but I didn't think it was great, either. I agree that shooting people with paintball guns and causing thousands of dollars worth of damage should have been a bigger deal than it was.

Why did Veronica even bother helping out the restaurant owner's daughter (aka bargain basement Eliza Dushku) after she'd been nothing but heinous to Veronica?

I thought the Mars Attacks cartoon was fairly amusing.

filmtx said...

Overall, I really liked the episode. It did seem a little tolerance-preachy. But at least the show had the cajones to address the issue. I laughed out loud several times and cringed at least, oh, TWICE. But I think the show's quality is still better than most of what we see on tv, especially on CW.

Isabel said...

You're killing me here.

I thought the fact that I was rooting for Piz was a sign of good writing.

But yeah, we all know that VM and Piz won't be together for long. So why bother?

It was awesome to see so many other characters though.

Pete said...

I can't claim to know how a police department works internally. However, in a college town after an underage kid stumbles out of a bar and gets hit by a car I would expect that would be a big issue in the community and something the cops would be under considerable pressure to work out.

Yes, the fake ID thing was done much better in S1. In fact that is possibly the best Mars episode ever.

While Veronica did break up with Logan, after everything they have been through together I can understand her being upset with seeing him with someone else. Especially someone who Veronica is quasi-friends with.

My favorite scene was Veronica talking to the class and the kid heckling her. That was hilarious.

Was it a great episode? No. It was uneven and not having an arc mystery left a lot of time that was not filled well. However, it was still better that 90% of TV drama episodes this year.

Anonymous said...

I thought the episode was an embarrassment. Really. What happened to this once great show? Plots were bad, dialogue was grating, and characters seemed to be reinvented right in front of our eyes.

And I'm sorry, but this is one fan who is not going to use the excuse that Kristen Bell is so talented that I'll watch anyway. She may have been good, but she's been phoning in her lines for a while. Last night was beyond obvious. And frankly, Alan, is saddens me to see you as such a defender of this show and Rob Thomas. He's used up his nine lives.

Lindy said...

I'm glad to hear next week's episode is better, Alan; even though I didn't hate this one it was pretty forgettable. I actually thought the fake ID plotline was kind of fun, although perhaps not as smart as I usually expect from this show. (Did anyone else get the feeling that MADD bombarded the show with letters after Veronica gave her friends those fake IDs? Maybe the showrunners were trying to avert a PR crisis.) Really, any Wallace screentime makes me happy at this point.

During the hiatus I definitely lost any interest I might have had in Logan/Veronica. I'm getting to like the idea of a rebooted Veronica Mars more and more, especially if it saves us from the Parker-Logan ridiculousness.

Undercover Asian Man said...

I just did a quick google search about some 'save Veronica Mars' campaigns. There was a group (the "Cloud Watchers") that spent all week distributing fliers in the major media cities reminding people that VM returned May 1st and that they could watch and enjoy the single, self-contained episode if they were new to the series.

Not only do I find the effectiveness of such campaigns to be laughable (they have pictures of these fliers available in tattoo shops and music shops, where they will be ignored just like the dozens of other fliers), but they pointed the scores of new viewers this stunt attracted to one of the worst episodes ever (preachy!!! holier-than-thou!!! teeny-bopper romance you've seen a hundred times before!!! Unfunny!!!), doing more harm than good.

And if I were completely new to the series, this episode would make sense at the most basic level, but be completely meaningless because I don't know who the hell Mac and Piz and Wallace and Test-Seller guy and Broody-Rich-Kid and Barely there Parker are and couldn't care less about their romantic life (hey, I personally am not new to the series and I don't care about this too, so think about how new viewers feel).

The Sheriff seems like a prick, it's hard to care about him unless you know of his journey and how he got to be sheriff.

New Viewer's Reaction: I was promised a snappy, witty show displaying writing excellence by this flier I was dumb enough to pick up and read (and follow blindly), and yet all I got was flat acting, the most groan-worthy plotlines (underage drinking = quadriplegic, hating = unamerican), and a whole lot of insidery self-references I don't care to research. I'm glad these Cloud Watchers left their URL on the flier so I can tell them how much they wasted my and now their own time promoting this particular show.

Seeing that all the 'grassroots' show-saving efforts were revolving around this "triumphant" May 1st return, the horribleness of this episode will probably be the final nail in the coffin.

Libby said...

I didn't think it was THAT bad, but, then, I was just glad those damn Pussycat Dolls were no longer on my TV. I love 'Piz' and was thrilled to see him get some action. Wallace was being a good friend to him, too. Didn't buy the restaurant dad changing his mind about the daughter's Jewish bf so easily though. And, what, Alan? No 'Gilmore Girls'? I cried my eyes out last night! It was awesome!

Kristen said...

I thought last night's was okay. The drinking plot seemed a little heavy handed for me and not worthy of VM.

But as for save the show stuff...Alan, I talked to someone who has never seen the show, read your column and said, "that FBI thing sounds like it could be really good." So, who knows? Maybe the network is willing to lose all the current fans to get a bigger number of new people.

Kathy said...

As a HUGE season 1 Veronica Mars fan, I find myself rather "meh" about its impending cancellation. Too bad.

But what I really want to know, Alan, is, did you watch Gilmore Girls??? Did you see the karaoke scene? And I know you're not a teenage girl, but did you squee a little bit just at the beauty that was Lauren Graham during that scene??

Donlee said...

I find the ratings system completely laughable. There are 110 million households in America. 5000 who are getting paid $50 a week decide what shows live or die. Save "fill in the blank" campaigns are ridiculous. Shows like "Family Guy" or "Arrested Development" could have millions watching, but if they're not in that 5000, it doesn't matter how many million more viewers they get, it won't be counted.

Kenrick said...

Yeah, seriously. I need to get a Nielsen box.

I thought the episode was ok for the most part, but the ending just killed it. I actually thought it was great that Piz finally made a move, but I cringed when Veronica kissed him back in front of the elevator. I was glad to see Wallace and Mac in the same episode - they're like the only two of Veronica's friends that aren't involved in the love polyangle, and thus are fun to have around on the show.

I'm totally for VMars to come back as an FBI agent next season. I don't know how much more of this relationship drama I can take. At least then the drama can begin anew. The "college year" hasn't been that interesting, so the FBI thing should give the show a fresh angle and it's always fun to see the future. I'd be satisfied with another two years of the show.

stevie said...

It was not the best episode, but it was no One Angry Veronica, if only for that line from Wallace when he saw Biggie Smalls on his ID: "You know, we don't all look alike, Mr. Mars."