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04.21.2005

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tv talk: out of this world: veronica mars by Yee-Fan Sun |  1 2
continued from page 1

In the year since, Veronica's become a whole new girl. She's got a new 'do, a new wardrobe, a new attitude and a new mission. Her dad's started up his own private investigator business, Mars Investigations; under the guise of helping him out, Veronica works with him on some of his cases, and takes on quite a few of her own. Meanwhile, she still hasn't given up hope of finding Lilly's real killer or tracking down her missing mom, despite the fact that her dad keeps warning her to let both of those mysteries go.

Whew -- got that? If all that sounds like a lot to process, bear in mind that all this happens in the first episode alone. That the episode isn't a crazy confusing mess is a testament to just how well-crafted Veronica Mars is. While it's not terribly difficult to make a complicated storyline, it's a tricky thing indeed to take those gazillion little pieces and make it fit together into a logical, believable whole. The first episode gives a big hint of show creator Rob Thomas' skill, but it's as the season progresses that you really begin to appreciate how elegantly all these disparate elements to the main story are slowly brought together, even as new facts and faces are constantly introduced. It's the rare show that can make a character do something that really, genuinely surprises you -- and have you believe wholeheartedly that the character's actions make complete sense. Nowhere is this aspect of the show's considerable charms more evident than in the character of Logan Echolls [the excellent Jason Dohring], Lilly's volatile ex-boyfriend and Veronica's nemesis, who starts off seeming like your stereotypical cocky mean rich kid and gradually becomes one of the most fascinating, unsettlingly appealing characters on the show.

The Buffy comparisons are, of course, impossible to ignore, but ultimately, it's the non-superhero-ness of Veronica Mars that makes this show especially great. Sure, Veronica's had some particularly crazy happenings in her life; certainly, the fictional town of Neptune, California has a kind of comic-book contrived feel to it (though in a fun way); yeah, most seventeen-year-olds are more likely to be working retail after school rather than lurking around motel parking lots with a camera and a big zoom lens. But Veronica's certainly not chasing around after demons with a pointy stick or getting personal messages from God; she doesn't have super-strength or magical spells or a direct line of communication with the powers that be. As sharp and determined as she is, Veronica's mostly just a regular teenager, clinging to childish fantasies that her parents will still get back together, learning that people aren't always what you expect, and being reminded constantly that no matter how smart you are, there's still a lot you don't know. Veronica's strength comes from stuff that's pretty accessible to ordinary mortals -- she thinks deeply, follows things through, believes in herself. In the end, the thing I really love about Veronica is that she kicks ass in a way that any of us could aspire to.

So forget about the dopeyness of the mere idea of a teen private eye; this is smart, addictive TV at its best, featuring a deliciously twisted brain-teaser of a mystery and characters you wish you could hang out with for longer than the 40-minutes they're on screen each week. Despite less-than-spectacular ratings, the show just got the go-ahead for season two. So what are you waiting for? Start tuning in now.

Veronica Mars airs on UPN, Tuesdays at 9pm ET/PT.

o

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