Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Bleh. I'm in a reasonably shitty mood. Today my rheumatologist, who is by far my favorite doctor and the only one who treats me like an actual person rather than a fascinating specimen, informed me that she's leaving in June. Immediately after that, the senior doctor came in and started bombarding her with a bunch of questions about me, as if I wasn't even in the room. (And since some of the questions boiled down to "is her heart about to explode?", I kind of wish he'd waited until I was out of earshot. I know that my heart might explode, but I don't really want to think about it any more than is strictly necessary. And no, "explode" is not the technical term.) And I'm not making enough progress on my dissertation. And I'm pretty sure I'm annoying and everyone hates me.

I think I may be premenstrual.

So today I am going to post about Veronica Mars. Have I mentioned that I love Veronica Mars? It's like the antidote to every crappy, male-centered teen drama that I also love.

The basic premise of Veronica Mars is this: Veronica is a high school junior who lives in Neptune, a sunny, Southern California town populated by rich people and the working-class folks who work for the rich people. The children of the two groups do not get along. Until last year, Veronica's father was the chief of the Neptune police, and she was in with the rich, popular crowd, mostly because she was best friends with uber-rich-kid Lily Kane. Then, in rapid succession, a number of terrible things happened. Lily was murdered. Veronica's father apparently botched the investigation in particularly spectacular and embarassing fashion and lost his job. Veronica's mother, apparently unable to handle the humiliation and loss of status, took off and hasn't been heard from since. Veronica's father set up as a private detective, but it doesn't pay very well, so the family had to sell their home and move to an apartment on the bad side of town. All of Veronica's friends ostracized her. And at a party she only went to in an attempt to show she was still standing, someone drugged and raped her. Now, she goes to school and helps run her dad's private detective agency. Every week, there's a mystery that is solved by the end of the episode. But there's also a season-long arc as Veronica attempts to figure out who raped her, who killed Lily, and what the hell is going on with her missing mother.

If this all sounds pretty dark, it is, sort of. But it's also a funny show, and Veronica is a great character. For one thing, she's the rare "smart girl" on T.V. who actually projects intelligence. But also, her wariness and sarcasm seem earned. In flashbacks, we see the more innocent Veronica of a year ago, when she was the earnest good-girl foil to Lily's wild child. If she's not that girl anymore, it's because she can't be. Veronica isn't cynical, but she's trying desperately to salvage her dignity and make sense of what's happened to her, and she hides behind sarcastic one-liners because she can't afford to show she cares. There's a real undercurrent of pain beneath the glibness.

So this show is the anti-O.C. For one thing, Veronica, the protagonist, is certifiably female. She is surrounded by supporting male characters, such as her father, her friend Wallace, her sometime-ally Weevil, her ex-boyfriend (and Lily's brother) Duncan, and Lily's ex-boyfriend Logan. But the show is named for Veronica, and it's told from her perspective. She does not merely exist to be someone's girlfriend. Also, this is a teen show that is not, fundamentally, about romance. There are and have been romances: Veronica used to date Duncan, and she has a crush on a cute policeman. But at the moment, Veronica is focused on surviving, on solving the mysteries in her life, on helping her father, on standing up for what's right... that kind of thing. Watching other teen shows, you'd get the idea that dating is the only concern in a high-schooler's life.

So anyway, the show has terrible ratings, may be canceled, and will almost certainly not be coming back for a second season. Probably, it will be like Firefly: one of those shows that people discover when the DVD comes out. I can live with that, I guess. But I'm going to be really irked if they take it off the air before we find out who killed Lily.

Comments:
Well, I don't hate you, or think you're annoying. So there.
 
I think it would be pretty silly for UPN to pay that much attention to the last-place ratings, since that happens with all their shows, the chances of them coming up with a replacement that kills "House" (Which I'm kinda glad is winning overall, so at least American Idol watchers who stay tuned in see what good writing is like) or whatever is nill to begin with.

Don't know if you've seen this:

http://forums.televisionwithoutpity.com/index.php?showtopic=3122604&st=0&#entry2458589

I do think they'd do better if they broadcast the show letterbox; the HDTV versions floating around the internet are a lot more cinematic and a lot of the aesthetic is lost with the camera pushed into everyone's faces with the pan&scan.
 
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