Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON ONE, EPISODE EIGHT 'Like A Virgin' (2004)

Needless to say...in my dreams, she's not wearing a bra.  But
then, sometimes in my dreams, she turns into a giant bird and
pecks at my eyes....
"Meg, you're the last good person in this school. I believe cartoon birds braided your hair this morning. If you want, I can find out who posted that test for you. It'll clear you name, and make somebody pay...unless there's a fairy godmother already on it."

1) While it is true we get two new character introductions--Alona Tal's Meg, who will become very significant towards the end of this season, and Erica Gimpel as Wallace's mother Alice, who becomes extremely significant to Keith Mars' character arc--I can't help but point out the second appearance of Daran Norris' Cliff McCormack, who plays a part in this episode's B plot surrounding Abel Koontz. I really, really like Cliff...he's funny, and an excellent foil for Veronica.
2) I enjoy how, in the last scene before the credits (we're still in The Land of The Extraordinarily Long Teaser), Veronica is basking in the chaos caused by the Purity Test Purchase scheme...until she sees that it hurts someone she cares about. That slow transition from schoolgirl taking some pleasure in karmic payback to the private detective seeker of vengeance for Meg is another indication of why Rob Thomas needed Kristen Bell for this series to work.

3) And here, at the 9:30 mark, we are introduced to Tina Majorino's Mac. Mac becomes the Willow to Veronica's Buffy very, very rapidly--there's a large chunk of Season Two where she pretty much replaces Wallace whole--and, much like Alyson Hannigan in the Whedon-verse, Tina Majorino injects some serious nerd cool into the series.

4) Alona Tal does fulfill a vital function in this season--namely, she gives the 09'ers a human face. Up until this point, all we've seen of them outside of the series regulars are a bunch of douches up to no good--Tal is an inherently likeable actress, and that likability rubs off on Meg to give Veronica an ally on the inside. Granted, next season she gets pretty badly messed up, but now...

This may not be The Face of Evil...but Christian Clemmenson
makes you believe it is.
5) Since this episode revolves around reputations, we get a fairly keen insight into how Veronica feels about her present reputation--and it's very telling that the only time she's upset by what is being said about her is during a scene with Wallace where she learns what his mother thinks of her.

6) To this day...whenever I think of Enrico Colantoni, the first thing that pops into my head is the scene in this episode where he bullies Alice Fennel's tenant into moving. At turns ice-cold and humorous, Colantoni thoroughly sells us on how Keith Mars is Not A Man To Mess With. The sight of him howling, mad eyed and pointing at the con man, who is practically driven to tears, is priceless.

7) The final resolution as to who put up the Purity Test website is subtle, and serves to shore up the cred of the person behind it--and since the true, nasty villains are exposed as not being connected to this mastermind, it assures us that this person will be back.

8) I know that the scene with Abel Koontz is there mainly to set up what will be a major thread in the overarc's second act...but get a load of Christian Clemmenson. Starting out as cordial and buying into Veronica's deception, he effortlessly becomes more and more sinister until he mocks her for not knowing certain facts about background. Clemmenson (who will go from here to become a sideshow in David E. Kelley's Boston Legal) is truly scary in this moment.

9) I know I have praised Bell in the past for her acting...but as much as I understand how Clemmenson's performance should be enough to send Veronica into a teary panic attack...well, I don't buy the teary panic she evokes.

Every hero needs a nerdy, technologically gifted sidekick,
Veronica...here's yours...
10) You know...I'm somewhat shocked at how much each episode is crammed with. Between the A and B plot, and the Keith Mars/Alice Fennel subplot and all the introductions, I didn't realize this is missing such major characters as Logan and Weevil.

Overall...a whole lot happens here, and a whole lot of it is good on so many levels. A definite improvement after the 'very special episode' of last week.

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