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17 September 2006 @ 09:31 am
Things I have been watching: Veronica Mars  
tersa and I have just finished up season 1 of VM on our movie night. I skipped this show the first time around because my friendslist* was "Logan Logan Logan/Veronica", and if there is any single character trope I hate in modern television, it's the Bad Boy Asshole you should feel Sorry for because of his Inner Wounds. Jess sent me fleeing from Gilmore Girls never to return, and I only found Spike interesting when he decided to try to be good, and then only because he didn't generally whine or angst about his past but was "I was an evil bastard and killed a lot of people."



The show does occasionally come up to my limit, and briefly tipped over, but it is saved by the fact that Veronica is insane, and watching Logan run into the buzzsaw that is Veronica's crazy is quality entertainment, as he is repeatedly baffled, dumped, and finally arrested.

I think I have a more pathological interpretation of VM than most, but the show didn't work for me until I took "Veronica is crazy" as a central organizing principle. I didn't believe that the shallow and naive Veronica of the flashbacks was the same person as the year later uberdetective Veronica; so Veronica's crazy, and this is an example of pathological obsession. Similarly, the fact that apart from her parents, she can only deal in human relationships in the context of favors done or owed might have been irritating, except: Veronica is crazy! This also made her hooking up with Logan believable, as he had just done her a major favor and thus was on her gameboard.

My darker take on the show carries over elsewhere; while I loved Keith Mars's relationship with Veronica, I thought he was a crap sheriff and deserved to lose his job. This is probably because I have seen far more people fucked over by police getting locked into a wrong theory on 'instinct' than I have seen rich people get away with murder because they are rich. And given that all the significant evidence was discovered later by his daughter, his focusing on the Kanes was all about his issues and nothing to do with evidence.

They seemed to realize this very late in the run and shoved in a scene to give Keith some actual evidence, but said scene required that you believe that a high powered technology executive who had already proved himself quite familiar with lawyers (and would later prove himself steely-minded enough to call his personal security to initiate a coverup while he's actually sitting beside the newly discovered dead body of his daughter) and who knew that he was lying (to cover up an affair) would allow himself and his wife to be interviewed for hours on details instead of calling his lawyer.

In fact, the forcing of characters into OOC actions for plot thrills is what keeps the show from greatness for me. Not all of them are as bad as when Veronica's temporary boyfriend turns into a cackling supervillain in the last five minutes of his time on the show, but it kept happening and pulling me out. And it made the season finale a real letdown. I completely approved of her father saving Veronica; it honored their relationship nicely, and was a tip to the reality that teenage girls can't be superheros all the time. And her disintegrating into hysteria at the very last was fine, because she couldn't do anything and was in the middle of the fire. And I can even see why, for both legal reasons and her general distaste of the physical over the mental/social, she might not opt to beat Aaron's head in with a tire iron while he was conveniently unconscious. But the sudden descent into horror movie bimbo behavior annoyed the fuck out of me. Instead of heading off into the woods where he'd never find her and walking over to another house, or simply picking up one of the many objects on the deck and smashing the sliding door in to get to a phone, she shrieks and runs around.

However, there are some things it does very well, particularly in comparison to Buffy. It sets up parallels without needing to beat your head in with them the way Buffy did; for example, we just watched the second season corrupt real estate mogul story. It was content to set up the teacher who is too moral to dump his losses on another and the mogul who takes the money and dumps his family without a thought, and lets you work out the parallels and moral yourself. Buffy would have felt the need to have a conversation between two characters about how isn't it sad how Teacher X lost his money, good people can't get rich because they can't leave their morals behind, like Real Estate Mogul guy. Orr a cut from the teacher's picture of the sailboat to Rich Real Estate mogul sailing in the Caribbean.

It also has some very pretty symbolism. The triune setup of the bus crash, with the poor kids in the bus, the 09'ers in their limo, and Veronica standing aside from them both on the motorcycle was very nice.


*Sometimes I think fans can be their show's worst enemy. Apart from Loganphilia, the fact that I've seen exactly one Supernatural post that talks about even plot, and zero meta ones amid a thousand "Sam and Dean are so HOT!" has led me to conclude the show itself is crap.
 
 
 
Loligololigo on September 17th, 2006 04:56 pm (UTC)
Here, let me help Mely pimp Supernatural with a handy link to all her SPN posts. Meta galore!

(Now aren't you sorry you brought it up? ;-D )
Lauratavella on September 17th, 2006 05:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Mely was the one plot one I remember seeing, and does make me open to the possibility of revising my opinion. I'm still not feeling the intense urge to check it out, because the horror/religion genre is very not me, but if Mely likes it, it probably isn't crap.
Lauratavella on September 18th, 2006 07:32 am (UTC)
...actually, reading her posts, I'm confirmed in my suspicion that it'd annoy me, even if it's not total crap. Weak female characters, appropriation and whitifying of bits from other cultures, and portrayal of the Real America as all white.
Cyrano: blipvertcyranocyrano on September 17th, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC)
Have I never talked about Supernatural on my LJ?
(And if I did, did I talk about how hot Sam and Dean were?)
I don't recall.
Lauratavella on September 18th, 2006 05:45 am (UTC)
It's possible you did and I missed it!
Kyra: [SPN] Whateverreikah on September 17th, 2006 05:04 pm (UTC)
Because the fact that you, personally, haven't seen them cearly means they can't exist.
Number One Spoonherongale on September 18th, 2006 01:42 am (UTC)
Come on, Tav makes a very valid point.

SPN fandom is very obviously a shipper's paradise. She did not say that these posts don't exist, just that the signal:noise ratio of plot posts: shipper posts amongst the sample audience that matters most to her-- her FRIENDS-- does not exactly suggest that SPN fans are in it for its intellectual rigor.
Catie: [DCU-A] Robin -- Computer Geekcatystorm on September 17th, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC)
Pff, shallow people. I love Supernatural for the 'figuring out which monster o'the week' angle. It doesn't hurt that Sam and Dean are way easy on the eyes, but I don't think that affects all my guy friends who love the show.
Lauratavella on September 18th, 2006 02:12 am (UTC)
I have nothing against shallowness, I've made a few "Mmm. Aliens bad. Doctor pretty." (tm Mags Halliday) comments on Doctor Who, for example. It's just that to really love a show I need some plot and writing meat and symbolic deliciousness to go with my pretty.
hegemony hedgehogagrimony on September 17th, 2006 06:13 pm (UTC)
I /love/ Supernatural. It is a testimony to how pacing can be manipulated to deliver, in a scant hour, as much build up and suspense and atmosphere as one can get from a two or more hour long movie. It has all the classic earmarks that make horror/suspense such a thrill to watch while managing to avoid the overt goriness (not that there isn't blood or gore involved ever, but it's of a necessity minimal due to being prime time network television) that so much of horror relies upon these days.

That they revisit tried and true urban legends and the like to supply their 'monster of the week' episodics is pretty darn keen. They have managed to take some very well tred tales and turn them on their side in an interesting and 'I really didn't see that coming' kind of way.

Plus, I like the way they explore common television themes (family, devotion, love, failure, success, etc) without ever making it into A Very Special Episode territory. I love the family dynamic that's unfolded. Plus, they manage to do it in a setting that feels very much like it could really honestly be Our World.
Lauratavella on September 18th, 2006 02:20 am (UTC)
See, this is the sort of post that if I had seen more of early on, I would have been likely to check the show out.
si_anenomesi_anenome on September 17th, 2006 08:20 pm (UTC)
Hurry... the next season is starting soon. :)
james_nicolljames_nicoll on September 17th, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)
Not all of them are as bad as when Veronica's temporary boyfriend turns into a cackling supervillain in the last five minutes of his time on the show

I am drawing a complete blank here. Can you give me a hint?

BTW, I think it's hilarious that Keith and Veronica have no problem violating their SOs' privacy. Like father, like daughter (And VM is just as bad, if not worse, as her dad about jumping to conclusions about Who Dun It).

I notice that even in S2, the actors playing the bike gang have not learned how to fake delivering a beating. It's very funny.

Lauratavella on September 18th, 2006 02:08 am (UTC)
The guy she was dating for a few eps in the beginning/middle of the season? Who turned out to be a druggie who had a plan of VM-level elaborateness to run off with a shipment of Mexican steroids to fund his new life with his dodgy girlfriend?
james_nicolljames_nicoll on September 18th, 2006 02:26 am (UTC)
Oh, right, IceTwin. I had him filed under loser and not villain.
Lauratavella on September 18th, 2006 05:47 am (UTC)
He's kinda dual-class there.

And yeah, VM's as bad about jumping to conclusions -- was it twice within three episode that she assumed Logan Was Guilty of something and stopped speaking to him at the end of the season -- but at least she did maintain the possibility of other people being responsible, with her "everyone's got a file" and "everyone's a suspect" credos.
james_nicolljames_nicoll on September 18th, 2006 06:38 pm (UTC)
The thing is, it's entirely reasonable that Logan might some day kill someone. It's not like iron self control is one of his trade-marks (Mind you, it is one of Duncan's and he's not much better).

What's your position on S1 and S2 spoilers?
Lauratavella on September 18th, 2006 09:29 pm (UTC)
S1 is fine, S2 I don't know whodunnit on the bus (if it doesn't turn out be Aaron as Veronica is assuming by ep 3), but I know all about the Baby Thing and the outcome there.
Al Pettersoneyelessgame on September 18th, 2006 07:58 pm (UTC)
Veronica's pretty manipulative. But then the show started, in season 1, right after a succession of horrible shocks had just happened to her -- someone rufied and raped her, her mom left, her dad was humiliated and lost his job, her best friend was murdered, her boyfriend and her boyfriend's dad were both suspected of the murder. And you're surprised she's retreated into a bit of sociopathy as a result?

No, she's not very likeable, and the sort of person we'd run screaming from in real life. But she's damned clever. (Cf. 'House' for unlikeable protagonists.)
james_nicolljames_nicoll on September 18th, 2006 09:13 pm (UTC)
The thing is, we see Old Veronica through New Veronica's eyes and who knows how reliable an observer she is of herself? She thought of herself as sweetness and light but had no problem dropping the hammer right away when she caught Logan smooching/being smooched by Rap Producer's Daughter.
Lauratavella on September 20th, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, I like Veronica, manipulativeness and all. I just think she's crazy.

She so completely deserved being foiled by the Kane security guy who told whathisname's daughter the truth, though.
Angelachotii on September 18th, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC)
Totally OT!

Hiya,

Was it you who, some years back, wanted a paperback of M. Pierce's The Pearl of the Soul of the World but couldn't find one? I found one. I admit, it's the only one I've EVER seen (though I have the trilogy in bound, Book Club Edition form). D'you still want it (if it was even you? As I say, it's been years.)
Lauratavella on September 18th, 2006 10:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Totally OT!
Ooh, I might be. Let me check to see if I gave up and brought the hardcover.
Chris Rettstattrettstatt on October 3rd, 2006 12:14 pm (UTC)
I came across your journal this morning and enjoy your take on...well, just about everything I've read here so far.

Hope you don't mind if I add(ed) you.
Lauratavella on October 4th, 2006 01:09 am (UTC)
No problem.

Like the icon, btw.