Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thank you, Rob Thomas.

Fear not, no spoilers here.

I've mentioned my nerdy obsession with Veronica Mars before, but not lately. Here's a little explanation. I'm insanely in love with the first season: the characters and their relationships are vivid and perfectly acted, the writing is uniformly smart and witty and warm, and the central mystery is expanded and resolved in such a thoroughly satisfying manner that it adds up to, in my mind, one of the finest blocks of television I've ever seen.

Season Two is patchy. Things get off on the right foot (that first episode back is one of the best VMs ever), but gets a little wonky by the midpoint. There are so many threads and subplots muddling the new "big mystery" that it turns into a confusing and frustrating ride. It's still compelling, sure, but by the time the big revelations occur, it's a massive letdown. (Am I alone in thinking Season Two's greatest moments are always set to perfectly selected pop songs? My three favorite Season Two moments: Dead body washes ashore [The Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?"], Veronica and Logan run from crazy child abusers [Air's "Run"], Prom [M. Doughty's "I Hear the Bells"].)

Rob Thomas and co. tried to remedy this situation in Season Three by creating an initial "big mystery" arc of nine episodes, then two mini-arcs to round-out the season. (At least that was the initial plan. Now it looks like Mr. Thomas might tweak the formula again by finishing the second arc, then running a series of stand alone episodes.) This season hasn't been without its growing pains (really, what was all that bidness with Logan in Mexico? Laura San Giacomo? Really?), but it's been a sturdy run that absolutely killed with the most recent episode. Tuesday's show, which saw the saga of the Hearst Rapist concluded and the introduction of the next mystery, was so twisty-turny-watching-through-your-fingers-brilliant, with a legitimately rewarding payoff, it felt like Season One all over.* Here's hoping it keeps up the momentum. The show's going on hiatus until mid-January, but the first nine episodes will be running in order over the holidays. If you've missed them, fire up that Tivo and get busy. Or add the first two seasons to your Netflix queue. Or use the ITs to catch-up. I dunno. Just don't let this series escape you.


*
Perhaps my favorite summation of the episode came in an e-mail from Nayiri:
Re: VMars, Keith [her husband] comes home from class in the middle of it, and usually I don't talk to him (aside from maybe saying hello) until it's a commercial break, but Tuesday night I was scampering around the middle room and clutching pillows to my bosoms and yelling at the TV. And then he came in, and then I started frantically telling him everything that he missed (the whole season) and hopping from one foot to the other like I was holding a lot of pee.

Yup. Sounds about right. And one more picture, 'cause the t-shirt is too goood not to:

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