10 years ago I discovered Veronica Mars.
At the height of my obsession with Season 1 of the show, I was simultaneously recovering from major jaw surgery (which also necessitated another minor surgery after the crazy complication of a loose screw!) and studying for my General exams for my PhD in Sociology. That meant I was pretty home-bound, and, yes, lonely. Veronica Mars gave me not only something to look forward to each week (these were pre-DVR days so I literally had a date to watch the live show each week) but a community to connect with in the form of Television Without Pity. When I say there were days I thought I saw Logan Echolls’ yellow car driving around New Jersey, you might get a hint of my obsession.
So why did I love VM so much? The snappy dialogue was a big part of it– the witty way you’d love to talk on a daily basis was how Veronica, Logan, Weevil, et al spoke. I also loved how interwoven the narrative threads were, with weekly mystery characters coming back when it came to the series-long mysteries. And TWoP sometimes helped me appreciate what the writers had done even more. Oh, and of course, the ROMANCE. LoVe not only gave me my first relationship acronym but my first scream-at-the-screen reactions (balcony kiss, anyone?!). When I say Veronica Mars was the first show I ever loved in an epic way, I mean it.
But that’s why anyone might appreciate the show. I think for me personally I liked that Veronica was essentially a very smart, tricked-out armchair sociologist (with a taser, natch). Additionally the actress who played her, Kristen Bell, was basically my age from a similar suburb of Detroit where I was from, so I had this weird parallel-lives interest as well.
I religiously watched Season 2, and while I liked it, in the end it can’t compare to the highs and shocks of Season 1 (I think this is true for most people, but it was especially true for me since I had passed my exams and was recovered from surgery). Although the Season 2 finale is pretty incredible TV… By Season 3 I was in the thick of both my dissertation fieldwork and my own romantic crisis and I missed several episodes. It was an unsatisfying conclusion to what had been a torrid love affair.
When the now record-setting Kickstarter campaign launched I donated the first day. I was pregnant for the second time and knew I likely wouldn’t be getting to a theater anytime soon, so I made sure to give enough to get the DVD mailed to me. I somehow thought I’d have postpartum time to (re)watch the three seasons on DVD; postpartum period#2 (and I imagine any subsequent ones) is much busier than the first, so that fell by the wayside…
About a year later, after finishing all seven seasons of West Wing with my husband, I suggested Veronica Mars. It was hard to describe the show that had meant so much to me and it was a bit of a tough sell when I described it as, “Well, it’s about a high school girl who happens to be a teenage detective and she’s really, really smart.” But hubby agreed and began requesting episodes every night of what he (in a Logan Echolls-tone) called, “TEENAGE DETECTIVE!” [complete with jazz hands]
We got through half of the first season before we moved in early June, upending our lives across state lines. We then watched a few more episodes before I had surgery in early July. And that’s when Veronica came back into my life in a bigger way. While I sat on the couch and he got me my meals we binge-finished Season 1 (staying up late when I should have been asleep recovering!). We did the same thing for Season 2 and he loved how I cheered when Duncan left and pointed out all the Beaver stuff going back to Season 1. I had more fun with Season 3, especially picking out the guest stars who would go on to become bigger stars– like Matt Czuchry and Diana Argon. At least this time the unsatisfying end to Season 3 was assuaged with the MOVIE (and I finally watched the FBI alterna-Season 4 and am glad the movie went in another direction).
The movie is basically every fan’s fantasy. I say basically because while I digged it and it made me smile in a nostalgic way (I especially appreciated the whole “teen PI” narration riff at the beginning given my husband’s interpretation) it didn’t move the character Veronica forward. It’s a smart reunion, but more like a party in many dimensions.
Cue the books! As I readily admit more than anything I am a book person. I like a good TV show for sure, but books have always been my thing. Movies not so much, and especially at this moment in my life (1.5 hours is a long time to commit when you have a a toddler and a preschooler!). The day after I watched the Veronica Mars movie in July I gulped down The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. (I was still convalescing!) It’s known that Mars creator Rob Thomas started conceiving of Veronica as a book character so it’s not surprising the whole enterprise has gone this route.
First of all, I can’t recall the last time a BOOK made me gasp aloud. But when (spoiler!) Lianne Mars reappears, I did just that. Because I am such a book person I always have an idea in my own head of what characters look or sound like, but because VM people are so a part of me I read the book with them in mind, which was a new and fun experience (complete with intonation). I think it was also wise to keep Logan away in this first one, but I was thrilled with his return in book 2, Mr. Kiss and Tell.
Two quibbles with Mr. Kiss and Tell. 1) I can’t believe Graham (speaking of, how many TWoP-ers would have killed for this noir job?!) and Thomas skipped over the fact that Mac’s old college boyfriend was the guy who exposed V to the porn site. No mention of their break-up? Also, let’s introduce some new people.Not everyone only ever hangs with their high school crew and Leo as love interest can go away now please and Mac and Wallace can get some new steadies… I’m guessing in Book 3 we get more on who attacked Keith in the movie. I loved the pace of 2, the drudgery of detective work, and that thankfully Veronica did not end up in any mortal danger.
Given that the books are canon (I was gleeful that I got to explain a term to my know-it-all husband…) I wonder how many will come out before another potential movie gets funded? Or is this the way forward now? And these books defy categorization for me, falling somewhere between mystery/fan fic/YA. All things I generally love though, so me and my Kindle don’t care!
After this latest surgery (hopefully my last for another decade!) these books woke my mind up again. They got me blogging again for the first time since May. And now that I am moved and recovered, I plan to blog personal things like this at least once a month, in addition to my other writings.
If you never watched Veronica Mars I’m impressed if you made it to the end here, and perhaps I’ve convinced you that, “A long time ago, we used to be friends…”