Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON ONE, EPISODE ONE 'Pilot' (2004)

"And the longest running gag on BETTER IN THE DARK
is born..."
"I used to think I knew what tore our family apart. Now I'm sure I don't. But I promise this: I will find out what really happened, and I will bring this family back together again. I'm sorry, is that mushy? Well, you know what they say. Veronica Mars, she's a marshmallow."
1) I am not a fan of 'taking a popular song and making it your theme song,' but there's something very, very right about using The Dandy Warhols' "We Used To Be Friends" as this series' theme--yes, the song was extant before the series, but it sums up one of the primary conflicts of the show perfectly....

2) As with all pilots, this one is terribly exposition-heavy--although writer/creator Rob Thomas takes the time to put the show's 'mini-done-in-one-mystery that slowly helps advance the main mystery' format firmly in place.

3) In a series full of rich supporting characters...I have to admit my total and absolute favorite is Daran Norris' Cliff McCormack, the lawyer who works with both Veronica and her dad. It's the combination of his game-show-host voice and his attitude that cracks me up every time. The dialogue, which is choice Thomas Chandler-manque, doesn't hurt, either.

4) Given that this was a series aimed primarily at teens, it's a very brutal one. The gruesome shots of Lily Kane's body, the tasteful-but-frank handling of Veronica's rape, and the footage of how a strip club gets out of paying fines for underage drinking pretty much bear out that this is meant to be a hardboiled detective show hiding out in a teen drama's body.

5) And speaking of the mystery-in-a-teen-drama's-body...this show's central backbone is the relationship between Veronica and Enrico Colantoni's Keith Mars. If these two mismatched actors didn't have the chemistry between them to convince us that yes, they're father and daughter and yes, they truly love each other, the show would have crumbled on the spot.
(Incidentally, Bell and her on-screen mother, Corinne Bohrer, do look scarily alike)

6) Another great chemisty choice--Percy Daggs III's Wallace, who acts as Watson to Veronica's Holmes pretty damn perfectly.

Okay, the screen cap doesn't make it look so hot...
but trust me on this one...
7) For those who have always wondered....33:14....that's the moment in the pilot when I fell in love with The Beautiful One...
8) Pilot director Mark Piznarski (who gets immortalized in Season Three, where one of Veronica's romantic interests is named for him) manages to successfully balance the tension between the sunny teen-drama-esque moments with the darker, moodier mystery moments.

9) It's interesting, given how their characters develop throughout the rest of the series, how antagonistic both Jason Dohring's Logan and Francis Capra's Weevil is. Logan, in particular, seems downright sinister in this early episode.

Easily the show's strength is the chemistry between
these two people
10) Thomas' script seems to be setting up a Wizard of Oz metaphor here, down to the catch phrase of Michael Muhney's Sherrif Lamb . I'm not sure if it works one hundred percent, given where this season's plotline goes.

Overall...I can forgive the fact that this is pretty much Veronica Mars: The Show Bible (the fact that this was originally a young adult novel Thomas tried to sell to Simon and Shuster really shows), since the show's casting and dialogue rings so amazingly well. This sets up what we're going to see over the course of the next three seasons pretty damn near perfectly.

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