Veronica Mars is one of the most engaging, scintillating, hilarious shows out there and I am starting here with where it all began, the Pilot. In the Pilot we are introduced to titular character Veronica Mars a sharp, sassy, witty teenager (played by the equally so, Kristen Bell) who resides in the seaside town of Neptune, which harbours more secrets than most. Veronica moonlights as a private investigator helping out her father at his detective agency, Mars Investigations, as well as taking on her own cases, including solving the supposedly ‘solved’ murder of her best friend Lily Kane. I had caught glimpses of this show since it began airing here but had unfortunately never watched all the episodes until I got hold of all three seasons on DVD last year, now I can’t get enough.
SPOILER ALERT (Skip the next two paragraphs if you want to avoid spoilers)
Veronica Mars is a sassy, angry young woman who seems to be somewhat of a loner, an outcast, who doesn’t care what other people think of her and is always ready with a witty retort. Veronica wasn’t always like this though. Throughout the episode we learn that Veronica was once one of the popular kids (the 09’ers), her father Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) was the local sheriff, she was in a relationship with Duncan Kane (Teddy Dunn) son of software billionaire Jake Kane (Kyle Secor), and her best friend was Duncan’s sister Lily Kane (Amanda Seyfried). Everything was perfect until tragedy struck. Lily was murdered in her own home. This is the beginning of an unfortunate chain of events for Veronica. Her father became convinced that Jake Kane killed Lily. The accusation did not sit well as Kane is adored by Neptune (after all he made them rich), leading Keith to lose his position as Sherriff. Things were made worse when the new Sherriff Don Lamb (Michael Muhney) gets a ‘confession’ from supposed killer Able Koontz. Following this Veronica’s mother leaves them, Duncan breaks up with her, and Veronica is ostracised by her former 09’er friends. On top of all this she is raped at a party only to have the new Sheriff Don Lamb (Michael Muhney), who is a tosser in more ways than one, not believe her when she reports it. Words cannot describe Veronica’s ordeal.
In the present Veronica is starting her junior year at Neptune High and makes a new friend in Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III) after cutting him down from the school’s flag pole after a run in with the PCH Bikers. Veronica agrees to help get the bikers off Wallace’s back in an elaborate and entertaining plan to switch the security footage with some footage that let’s just say is not exactly flattering for the local sheriff’s department. At Mars Investigations, Celeste Kane (Lisa Thornhill) turns up wanting an investigation into whether her husband Jake Kane has been having an affair. Veronica decides to work on the case and learns some startling information, leading her to believe that Able Koontz is innocent and begin her own investigation into Lily’s murder, including what exactly was Lily’s secret.
The plot of the episode and the premise it sets up for the rest of the season are sensational. I was glued to the television screen the first time I saw this episode and in subsequent viewings since it has the same effect, it never gets old. The dramatic events of Veronica’s past and present really are gripping and provide lots of stories for subsequent episodes. Also, there are great hooks at the end of each act.
Although Veronica Mars is a drama featuring heavy storylines the show is also wickedly funny and it is this balance that I really enjoy. There are numerous moments of irresistible humour delivered by witty Veronica. One moment I enjoyed was when Veronica’s locker was targeted for a ‘random’ locker search leading only to the revelation of her ‘undying love’ for the vice-principal. Veronica is not the only funny one and clearly got her sense of humour from her father who also has a few funny moments, “Who’s your Daddy?”
I also love the portrayal of the father-daughter relationship between Veronica and Keith. There is an undeniable bond between the two that seems to have only grown stronger as things have gotten tougher. This is a real testament to Bell and Colantoni as the chemistry that they have between each other really does make it seem as if they are genuinely father and daughter. The scene where they are eating dinner and Keith professes his love of powered cheese really is revealing of how important they are to each other. It may sound ‘cheesy’ but there is no doubt that no matter what they will be there for each other.
The show was really well cast. Kristen Bell was the perfect choice for the role of Veronica Mars and I can’t see how anyone else could have played the role as well as her. In Bell’s own words, “I have some sass to me, and that’s exactly what he [Show creator Rob Thomas] wanted”, it is exactly that sass that made her ideal for the role. Enrico Colantioni of Just Shoot Me and Flashpoint (currently in its final season) is stellar as Keith Mars. He does a great job at portraying a father trying to do his best for his daughter while still having his own issues. Jason Dohring plays Logan Echolls once friend now enemy of Veronica. He too does an excellent job at playing the “obligatory, psychotic jackass”, you really do find yourself disliking the character as much as Veronica does. Darrian Norris, whose voice you may recognise as Cosmo from The Fairly Odd Parents, has the minor role of attorney Cliff McCormack. Although this is a minor role he really is quite funny.
I cannot recommend this show enough. The potent combination of intriguing mystery, gripping drama, and witty comedy really does work to produce an irresistible series. If you have never seen Veronica Mars or maybe have only seen a few episodes here and there like me, why not watch the pilot? I am sure you won’t regret it.
Veronica Mars – Pilot
Created By: Rob Thomas
Cast: Kristen Bell, Percy Daggs III, Teddy Dunn, Jason Dohring, Francis Capra, Michael Muhney, Enrico Colantoni, Amanda Seyfried
How to watch: Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season on DVD, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, thewb.com, Check your local listings
All Images © Warner Bros. Entertaiment