Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Veronica Mars - Season One

"Veronica Mars, she's a marshmallow."

Last year I started noticing reviews with phrases like “smartest teen-oriented drama since Freaks and Geeks” (Variety),. “has all the sass, strength, resolve and ingenuity of any of literature’s classic detectives” (Hollywood Reporter), “teen noir with a moody blend of adolescent angst, family drama and mystery” (TV Guide), and “imagine one of those hard-boiled detective movies with Lauren Bacall doing the sleuthing instead of Humphrey Bogart” (USA Today). They were describing a new show on the UPN network that centered around a 21st Century Nancy Drew named Veronica Mars. So I decided to check it out and got hooked. What I discovered, and what somehow still remains the best kept secret on television - Veronica Mars rocks! The first season is finally out on DVD so I decided to check it out and watch the entire first season from the beginning.

Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) used to be in the cool crowd, that was before her boyfriend Duncan Kane (Teddy Dunn) dumped her, her best friend Lily Kane (Amanda Seyfried) was murdered, and her father Sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) was fired for trying to implicate the immensely powerful Kane family in the crime. Veronica now ostracized, walks the halls of Neptune High as an outsider who lives by a simple rule “get mad, and get even.” Her father has moved into private investigation and Veronica helps from time to time.

At school Veronica offers her detective services to students for a price. She will solve you average high school crimes like who kidnapped the school mascot, just who is part of the secret society known as the Tritons, who’s been kidnapping the dogs of wealthy students, and how the school elections were tampered with. Sound familiar, well let’s just say not all of her cases are so run of the mill.

Aside from uncovering the truth about Lily’s murder, finding her mother and the truth behind her disappearance, and discovering what really happened the night of Shelly Pomeroy’s party, Veronica will also poke her nose into cases ranging from blackmail, murder, suicide, a serial killer, rape, school bomb threats, incest, the worst game of strip poker ever. Not your typical Nancy Drew, but then nothing about Veronica Mars is.

Kristen Bell is terrific as the young strongly independent sleuth who although wise beyond her years is still lonely and susceptible to the mistakes all teenagers make. Her close circle of friends includes her Watson, Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III) who is the requisite best friend and support, and the computer expert Mac (Tina Majorino) who has her own mystery for Veronica to solve.

The supporting cast is quite good. I especially like Coltantoni and the father daughter relationship and banter the two so easily fall into. Also good are the gang leader Weevel (Francis Capra), Michael Muhney as the rather dimwitted but political hobnobbing new sheriff, and Jason Dohring as Logan Echolls who has one of the best recurring jokes of the series - watch for it.

Great guest performances here with some familiar faces. Rounding out the Echolls family tree are Harry Hamblin, Lisa Rinna, and Alyson Hannigan. Pretty damn good casting job! Paula Marshall and Joey Lauren Adams are terrific in guest roles and part of the faculty of Neptune High.

Aside from the 20 minutes of extended and deleted scenes and a slightly longer intro version of the pilot we get ‘nada folks. Also the set-up of box set is a little tricky in that if you want Disc Two you have to remove Disc One first, and so on.

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