Friday, February 17, 2006

The Martian Invasion

I'd like to consider myself someone who pays more attention to television than the average person. And it's with that conceit that I can present my newest TV obsession: a little UPN hour-long called "Veronica Mars." I'd heard last year that this show was supposed to fill the Scooby gang-shaped void that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" left when it went off the air in June of 2003. And though I liked "Buffy" a lot, I was skeptical of some other show starring some other diminutive blonde solving some other mysteries in some other thinly veiled California city. After all, this Veronica bitch was on UPN, which sags even below the WB in terms of programming quality.

I was wrong.

Last year, this show ousted "Arrested Development" from the number one slot in the results of Kristin Veitch's online "on the bubble" poll, in which E! Online users — TV fanatics, all of them — vote for which low-rated show least deserves cancellation. And I feel like the coach potatoes-in-the-know voted correctly. "Arrested Development" is a good show, for sure, but "Veronica Mars" might be a better one, in that it's based around real, human characters and thusly has a chance at appealing to a broad audience. The show expertly sews together plot threads from some of my favorite shows — "Buffy" and "Twin Peaks" among them — and then pads the whole creation in this imminently likable high school drama facade.

And while the show is generally excellent, I feel that one would have to praise its lead, Kristen Bell, in particular. This girl delivers lines that would have dropped like a brick out of other actresses' mouths. She plays Veronica just like she should — alternately intrepid and sarcastic and mopey and sweet. A Nancy Drew updated for life adolescent life in the new(ish) millennium. She also has the odd talent to resemble a handful of other petite blondes, depending on the lighting provided in a given shot.

(

Actresses resembled so far:
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar
  • The girl who played Anya on "Buffy"
  • Maggie Grace
  • Naomi Watts circa "Mulholland Drive"
  • Rachel MacAdams (blonde version)
  • Lela
  • Joanne Nail of "Switchblade Sisters"
  • Julie Benz
)

And maybe it's that she can emulate the best qualities of these other actresses that Bell can make a high school student's investigation into her best friend's murder seem plausible. For the moment, the hours I would have otherwise spent writing for this blog has been whiled away watching Veornica trot around Neptune, California, the show's fictional take on San Diego. And I've really been enjoying my time there. I only have a few episodes left before I discover the identity of Lily Kane's killer in the season finale, so while my enthusiasm is still an explosive levels, let me recommend this show to anybody who enjoys engrossing, well-written television.

Go out. By the first season on DVD. You owe yourself a good mystery.

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