Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Veronica Mars - The Complete First Two Seasons|
Actor: Kristen Bell
Genres: Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 12/12/2006
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Deserves acclaim as one of TVs finest shows
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 06/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Warning: Some spoilers
You need to know this show. By any standard it stands as one of the best shows on television and as one of the most innovative since HILL STREET BLUES inaugurated the era of Quality TV in the 1980s. Creator Rob Thomas and the rest of the production team have created something not quite like any show that has come before.
The uniqueness of VERONICA MARS is not widely appreciated, even by its fans. In trying to describe the show to others, fans inevitably resort to comparisons, something I have been guilty of myself. Most often, people refer to BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, in that both shows feature a diminutive blond in a high school setting doing heroic deeds. No doubt BUFFY is the major influence on the show. Two actors who played major roles on BUFFY--Charisma Carpenter who played Cordelia and Alyson Hannigan who played Willow--have recurring roles on the show, and BUFFY creator Joss Whedon himself both appeared in a cameo and supplied the most praise-worthy review of VERONICA yet in his ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY review of the Season One DVD: "Best. Show. Ever." And after its first season, Salon.com gave their award for the best show on TV ignored by the Emmys to VERONICA MARS, an award called The Buffy, named for the greatest show ever persistently ignored by the Emmys. Nonetheless there are some major differences between BUFFY and VERONICA MARS. First, like most shows on the WB, BUFFY was overwhelmingly white and comfortably middle class. VERONICA, on the other hand, was set in Neptune, California, which is, as Veronica says at the beginning of Season One, "a town without a middle class." If you attend Neptune High, your parents are either millionaires or work for millionaires. This gives the show a social and class tension fairly unusual for television, though that tension isn't exploited as often as it could be. Furthermore, Neptune High is ethnically diverse. The wealthy kids are almost all white, while the poor include some whites, a lot of Hispanics, and a lot of blacks.
A second major difference in the two shows is in the two leads. Buffy is a super-empowered chosen one, given by magical powers strength and power to fight and kill vampires and demons and her task is essentially a violent one. Veronica, on the other hand, has no powers, is in no way a "chosen one," has no hand-to-hand combat skills, and apart from her trusty taser, has no weapons skills. If one looks at other great female heroines in the history of TV--Emma Peel, Wonderwoman, the Bionic Woman, Pepper Anderson, Dana Scully, Buffy Summers, Xena, Max Guevera, Sydney Bristow, and Aeryn Sun--Veronica stands out in her relative inability to kick butt. Even Dana Scully (whose lack of hand to hand skills were wonderfully parodied in a fantasy sequence in which suddenly she did) was very good with a gun. Instead, Veronica is street smart in a way that none of these others--not even Pepper Anderson or Max--are. She is brainy both in a bookish way and a practical way. She is constantly out thinking her rivals. One of the complaints that many gender studies people make about characters like Buffy and Xena (though I think they are wrong) is that their resorting to violence actually makes them artificial men, undertaking a masculine solution to problems (some even call them transvestites). Regardless of the merits of that kind of position (which I think are minimal at best), Veronica is immune to that critique. The closest she comes to gunplay in two seasons is removing the bullets from a bad guy's gun.
Other parallels are equally unhelpful. She is sometimes compared to Nancy Drew, but other than the fact that both investigate mysteries and eschew violence, it is hard to see other parallels. Nancy Drew has more in common with the comfortable parlous mysteries of Agatha Christie, while Veronica is more spiritually akin to a Raymond Chandler or the psychological messiness of a Ross MacDonald.
But I can understand why the show is compared to BUFFY. Like that show, VERONICA MARS is a character-driven long narrative arc series, that flips from humor, to intrigue, to heartbreaking drama with ease. Like BUFFY, VERONICA MARS is not afraid to go for the hurt, killing or damaging characters, delving into emotionally painful moments, and violating your expectations. And like Buffy, Veronica can make bad choices. What you love about Veronica, however, is that no matter how life flattens her, she just gets up and reasserts herself. Her resilience is my favorite part of her character.
Anyone who hasn't seen VERONICA MARS should definitely get this two-season set. The writing on these two seasons is amazingly consistent and there is wonderful carry over from Season One to Season Two. In fact, there is a sense in which the conflicts in Season One are not fully resolved until the final episode of Season Two.
The spoiler paragraph:
Season Three will represent a major change for the show. Veronica will be attending nearby Hearst College where presumably she will at least be joined by Wallace and probably by Mac (NAPOLEON DYNAMITE's Tina Majorino, who is rumored to be a permanent cast member next year). Will Veronica and Logan find true (or at least epic) love? And just what was in the briefcase (Enrico Colantoni has revealed that what was actually in the briefcase as they shot was a batch of his favorite cookies that the cast surprised him with, but obviously that isn't what was "really" in the briefcase)? Time will tell. The one bit of nervousness I have about Season Three is that the show has been renewed for 22-episodes but with only an initial 13-episode order. This isn't very unusual. Most seasons, for instance, ANGEL operated under this arrangement. Usually the network will make a mid-season announcement that the additional 9 episodes have been picked up. Hopefully they will have not just a full third season, but a fourth and fifth for what is in my opinion one of the truly great shows on television. I've argued with friends for the past few years that on many levels--especially character development and extended narrative--television is vastly superior to movies these days. VERONICA MARS is exhibit A."
Veronica Mars: The High School Years Prove High School Is He
Andrew | Chicago, IL, USA | 05/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's strange how the reception Veronica Mars the show receives is similar to the treatment Veronica Mars the girl gets. Veronica Mars is a show on a smaller network (UPN, but now it is, most likely if it gets picked up for a third season, moving to the new CW) that is surrounded by more popular and higher-budgeted shows like Lost, 24, Desperate Housewives, and such. While it gets ratings that are mediocre at best, she has some very ardent fans. Veronica (Kristen Bell) is a young girl living in a very rich San Diego suburb called Neptune where she is an outcast from a lower-middle class family. Still, she has some very loyal friends, like Wallace Fennell (Percy Daggs III), a new kid from Ohio who gets himself duct taped naked to a pole on one of his first days of school after angering the local bike gang. Said biker gang is led by Eli "Weevil" Navarro (Francis Capra), who also befriends Veronica when the two realize that they can have a mutually beneficial relationship. There's also Cindy "Mac" MacKenzie (Tina Majorino), a computer geek and fellow outcast/lower-middle class student who is picked on for not being rich. Finally, her father, Keith Mars (Enrico Collantoni), a private investigator, and the former sheriff, has a very strong relationship with his daughter (one very rarely seen between fathers and daughters on television). Though Veronica does have her share of enemies, ranging from the incompetant new sheriff Don Lamb (Michael Muhney) to Vice Principal Van Clemmons (Duane Daniels) to many of the rich kids, known as 09ers (due to the fact that they live in the wealthy 90909 zip code), who used to be her friends.
You see, in her sophomore year in high school (a year prior to the show's pilot), Veronica was part of the in-crowd. While her family wasn't rich, they were doing pretty well. Her father was the sheriff, her mother Lianne (Corinne Behrer) was still living with them, and they had a nice house. Veronica was dating the son of the richest man in town, Duncan Kane (Teddy Dunn), was best friends with Duncan's sister Lilly (Amanda Seyfried), and was very popular. Then, Duncan broke up with her out of the blue, Lilly was murdered and Veronica's dad accused Duncan and Lilly's father Jake (Kyle Secor), the man responsible for making so many people in Neptune rich. He is beloved in Neptune, and the people of Neptune wouldn't accept him as the murderer. Keith was removed as sheriff, Veronica became an outcast, and Lianne skipped town. Now, old friends like Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), Lilly's old boyfriend, despise her, and the two Mars still in Neptune are struggling to make ends meet.
The series begins at the beginning of Veronica's junior year, and the popular, bubbly Veronica is gone and has been replaced by a sarcastic, jaded, outcast who is derided by many, feared by some, and even respected by others. She uses her vast intelligence that went unused during her time on the cheerleading squad to help her father solve crimes as Keith's new assistant. Furthermore, she helps fellow students with problems, provided they can pay her enough. While the idea of a teen sleuth sounds cheesy, and I know it does, because that was my initial reaction to hearing about this show, the detective element is handled excellently. But in addition to the plots, the character development is superb. Logan is a great example; Veronica introduces him as the school's obligatory psychopath, and at first glance, he appears that way. But as we learn more and more about him and his home life, we begin to see that he isn't everything we originally thought him to be. Duncan also has some hidden demons that he needs to slay, and as his full character is revealed, we find ourselves reevaluating past feelings about him. Of course, Veronica is more than just the damaged goods she originally appears to be.
In addition to being an entertaining drama/detective series, the show deals with themes of being the outcast in high school, class wars, and justice, which often intercedes with the class warfare. With the richer citizens of Neptune able to buy their way out of penalties, the poor often feel contempt for their rich neighbors, which nearly escalates to civil war in the second season. The best part is that both sides are somewhat at fault. Sure the 09ers are jerks to the poorer students and are able to sidestep certain land mines that the poorer students have to endure, but often the lower class kids respond with their own kind of justice, whether it be from the PCH Bike Gang, led by Weevil, or property destruction, to grade sabotaging.
The first season is great; while many shows try to find their footing in their first seasons, Veronica Mars is able to jump right into intricate plots and character development, allowing for a level of quality that some shows don't achieve until their third seasons. And it only continues to get better. The second season involves a much grander mystery with numerous mini-plots tied into the main story. The first season did have subplots, but most of them didn't have to do with the main story. Although, it did lead to one of the show's only problems; the second season was perhaps TOO ambitious, and some things got pushed into the background for too long, then drawn out for a little too long, but the season was still amazing and much better than a lot of other, more popular shows. One other thing regarding the second season was the identity of the killer. I am very conflicted towards it; on one hand I liked it, but on the other, I found it almost too hard to believe (the season one culprit was also a left field pick, but it worked without question, whereas in season two, it is a little hard to buy the person as the killer). Many fans were split over the revelation, with some claiming that the person is the only plausible answer while others are threatening to stop watching due to feelings of betrayal. I guess you'll have to watch and decide for yourself (though it should be known that it wasn't a random decision; Rob Thomas and company had the answer to season two planned since before the end of season 1). Also, check it out because it's great television, not just to decide which camp you fall into.
All of the actors do a great job bringing their characters to life. Bell and Colantoni are amazing as the father/daughter team, and whether they are together or separate, they both can perform at a large range of emotions. All of the regulars are equally or nearly as good, and a good 95% of the guests are great as well despite the fact that there were very few big name stars (the network did require the creators to use some stunt casting, like Paris Hilton or America's Next Top Model contestants to get ratings). Though, a few (relatively) bigger names like Alyson Hannigan and Jonathon Taylor Thomas did show up. Other great guest stars include Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Kevin Smith (of Clerks fame), and Arrested Development's Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat. In recurring roles, Harry Hamlin, Lisa Thornhill, Alonna Tal, Charisma Carpentar, and Steve Guttenberg all give performances that are comparable to the regular actors.
Sadly, the show gets ratings that can be described as "mediocre-at-best", which led to a budget cut for the second season, as well as a few "suggestions" from the network to improve ratings, such as introducing a "new female friend" for Veronica. That "friend" was Jackie Cook (Tessa Thompson), who actually started off as an enemy to Veronica (as well as the audience) for the first half of the second season. But the show was able to overcome these challenges and continue to be one of television's best, if not underappreciated (from a ratings perspective; critics love it), shows.
The bottom line is this; if you've never watched an episode of Veronica Mars, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. There are very few shows on TV right now that can be as funny and dramatic as this show, and when I say that, I mean that it is funny and dramatic almost simultaneously. Very few other shows on TV have as much heart nor will draw you in like this one. You will fall in love with some of these characters and boo others for the way they treat the ones you love."
Veronica Mars: Best show on TV offers up both incredible sea
A. G. Corwin | 05/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Veronica Mars is one of the rare breed of shows that comes along every few years. It has a premise that is original, writing that breaks the mold with its intelligence and sly, clever humor, fantastic acting with interestingly written characters, and most of all, dramatic story arcs that actually surprise the viewer. All combined you have a series that makes for great viewing and keeps you absolutely hooked, and is hands down the best show on TV.
In the space of little over a year, high school student Veronica Mars (the fantastic Kristen Bell) endures more tragedy than any teen should ever have to face. Her best friend, Lilly, is savagely murdered, her first love dumps her without explanation, she is raped at a party, and she is almost killed herself while exposing Lilly's murderer. Not enough? After that her new boyfriend gets charged with murder, a bus she is supposed to be on goes off a cliff killing 9 of her classmates, biker gangs are dealing drugs for the Irish mob, a creepy Mayor is doing some very not so nice things to kids, and her old boyfriend goes on the run from the cops. By this point, most people would draw into a shell and let tragedy dominate their lives. But Veronica Mars is not most people. Tragedy redefines her, and gives her purpose, strength, and the gritty and fiery character that audiences love.
Acting as Neptune High's private detective by day and helping her father (Enrico Colantoni) piece together mysteries at night, Veronica is determined to find the truth behind Lilly's murder, the bus crash, her rape, and many other shady incidents and make sure that those involved pay for the crimes. Over two seasons this search for truth will bring her into contact and conflict with sometimes boyfriend Logan Echolls (an exceptional Jason Doehring), gang member Eli "Weevil" Navarro (Francis Capra), best friend Wallace (Percy Daggs III), computer hacker extraordinaire Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie (Tina Majorino), ex-boyfriend Duncan Kane(Teddy Dunn), creepy mayor Woody (Steve Guttenberg) and too many others to name. Veronica Mars is the embodiment of the phrase, "a mystery, inside an enigma, wrapped in a riddle." Every show contains new intrigues, plots, schemes, and more red herrings then you can possibly count. Nothing in Neptune is ever exactly how it seems.
Season one is fantastic, and if it can be believed, season two is even better. The dynamic cast continues to flesh out and make their characters more real, and the writing is more consistent. This show is so complex and interwoven its necessary to watch the episodes in order, making it hard for new viewers to get into the mysteries, but once they give it a try, they are hooked. That's why its great both seasons are being offered as a package deal. Compared to the non-existent extras on the first season, Season 2's DVD set is chock full. According to the website TvShowsOnDvd, these include a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes and gag reels. This is the first must have DVD set of the year, and is timed for release with the fall TV season, where Veronica Mars will be back in action on the CW for a third year. This show and this set are Highly Recommended.
S. L. Cronin | New Zealand | 01/16/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A great series, Veronica always finds herself in some mystery or trouble, always something happening. Some great characters and an exciting script."