Veronica Mars is witty, engaging and packs an emotional punch, with creative storylines, three dimensional characters and snappy dialogue that will leave you wanting more.
With elements of the noir and old school detective shows, Veronica Mars is a high school drama with a difference – teen detective Veronica will stop at nothing to uncover the murderer of her best friend Lily Kane. With a premise like this Veronica Mars could have easily become another show like 90210 or Gossip Girl with their focus on the interactions of teenage Americans. Even saying the phrase teen detective doesn’t do the show justice, with its connotations of Nancy Drew and childish play. However, the writing of the show stops it from becoming facile or superficial. Throughout we are reminded what the show is really about – at its heart Veronica Mars is dramatic, sometimes dark, and always engaging.
Season One of the show starts a year after the death of Lily Kane, with her apparent murderer on death row, and Veronica (Kristen Bell) ostracised from the popular ‘09ers’ she once was friends with. Her father Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) has been ousted from his position as Sherriff because of his approach in questioning Lily’s parents, and now works as a private detective. We follow Veronica as she solves episodic cases and tries to unravel the lies and mysteries that surround the death of her best friend. This isn’t a show for the faint at heart. It isn’t afraid to explore dark themes or the shady side of the glossy lives of the rich and famous. Date rape, alcoholism, and domestic abuse are all explored in the first season, in a way that packs an emotional punch. ‘A Trip to the Dentist’ is one of the most fascinating episodes of any television series that I have watched, it had such an impact on me, that even years after watching it for the first time I still get shivers watching it. Likewise, the season finale is dramatic and closes up the big mystery in a way that I never expected – it leaves you guessing right until the end. Yet the darkness in the show is complimented by the humour, and never gets to the point of depressing the audience.
Characterisation and dialogue is what sets this show apart. Dozens of videos on Youtube are dedicated to the witty comments and interactions between all of the characters. The dialogue is always on point, and each character has their own distinct voice. Veronica is a hero that you can identify with and who is brilliant yet fallible – part of the strength of the show is the fact that she doesn’t do the right thing all the time, and while she may solve the cases set before her, she can’t fix everything. The acting in the show is also top quality with a stellar cast. Kristen Bell is a fantastic actor, and although she has had a slightly disappointing film career, television is where she shines, most recently in House of Lies. Veronica is undoubtedly one of Kristen Bell’s best characters and Veronica Mars showcases some of her best acting. Jason Dohring’s Logan Echolls is well nuanced and engaging, with multiple layers below the “Psychotic jackass” exterior (Veronica’s words, not mine). He is an extremely underrated actor, and I wish that he was in more on TV, his most recent outing being the cancelled Sarah Michelle Gellar show Ringer. The interactions between these two actors are rife with chemistry and snark which I feel is unparrelled on TV. Enrico Colantoni is brilliant as the caring and brilliant detective, and the relationship between his and Bell’s characters is a wonderful portrayal of a father and daughter. Another standout is Darran Norris (best known for his voice acting) as the public defender Cliff McCormack. Every on screen moment of his is gold. The show boasts a wealth of guest stars before they made it big, and some fantastic cameos including Joss Whedon, who called Veronica Mars “the funniest and most romantic show on TV,” Paul Rudd, and Micheal Cera.
With the Veronica Mars sequel movie going into production this summer and slated to be released next year after their phenomenally successful Kickstarter campaign, now is the perfect time to catch up on this incredible show, which in my opinion should never have been cancelled.
Veronica Mars seasons 1-3 are available on DVD distributed by Warner Bros.