Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON ONE, EPISODE TEN 'An Ecchols Family Christmas' (2004)

This may be a Christmas episode--but it's not one fulla cheer....
"Annoy, tiny blonde one. Annoy like the wind."

1) How can you not love an episode (and I love this episode--it's one of my all-time favorites, and arguably my favorite of the first season) that begins with a riff on my favorite number from my favorite Christmas Special, The Year Without A Santa Claus? Keith Mars loves the Miser Brothers, thus he is empirically proven to be a good guy.

2) Diane Ruggerio's script cleverly gives Veronica multiple incentives to take on this week's case-within-the-episode..and also gives her reason to interact with many of the supporting cast to a degree she hasn't before. This is a good thing because....

3) Francis Capra, Teddy Dunn and Jason Dohring are waaaay at the top of their game. They've got the rhythm of the show down dead, and engage in these great back-and-forths full of wonderful lines. Hell, the line I use as the header, which is Dohring's, ranks as one of my favorite lines in the series ever.

There's a good reason these 09'ers ultimately opted out of
rushing for Weevil's budding fraternity....
4) This is prolly the most we see of Lisa Rinna as Lynn Ecchols...and she's actually extremely good. I like how, even before she kinda, sorta apologizes to Keith for not staying in touch, you get the sense that this woman, of all the '09'er parents, is the one person who didn't resent him for doing what he did, who genuinely liked him and still does. Pity she's not much longer for this series.

5) Compare Lynn's interaction with Keith to the way Harry Hamlin's Aaron deals with him...yes, on the surface Aaron is just as warm and friendly as his wife...and yet, there's a sense of panic to the way he guides him to the door, a strange undercurrent of discomfort in his voice. Ladies and gentlemen, you have encountered your first clue in the overarc...and I doubt any of you realize that it was presented to you.

6) Emmanuelle Vaugier is in this as one of the women who is suspected of being Aaron's stalker. As always, she's not that great an actress, but...Emmanuelle Vaugier.

Yes.  I think she's hot.  Deal.

7) Since Veronica's case is more of a standard drawing room mystery, I love how Ruggerio ends up revealing the solution in her version of an Agatha Christie last act, with our heroine bearding the (not very convincing) villain in the scene of the crime. And since the Ecchols Family Christmas Party is going on at the same time....

8) The scene toward the end where Veronica confronts Jake Kane is something else--just as much for Kyle Secor's acting as for Bell's. There's obvious confusion in the way both of these people are interacting, and the way they get even more frustrated in the mass of accusations is magnificent. It's to Secor's credit that when he practically screams 'I don't know,' you believe him...and it's to Bell's credit that when she retorts 'I don't believe you'...you suspect she might believe him a little as well. This, and the little exchange with Celeste that follows, is another indication that Jake Kane is far from a one-dimensional monster....

The beautiful thing about this scene is that things end up
bloody and unpleasant for all three of these people given time...
9) There is a sense of profane beauty to the way the Stalker storyline resolves...but a beauty that is intentionally artifical. And the fact that the stalker turns out to be literally a nobody, someone who walks on at the last minute to stab Aaron...well, let's say we've just been handed another clue we won't even know we had until the end of this season.

10) If there is one sour note, it is the overtly affected performance by Kevin Sheridan as Sean Friedrich. It's so arch, so mannered that it's hard not to think he's the villain in Veronica's subplot.

Overall...as I said, this is one of my favorite episode--not just because it is fun and exciting, not just because it shows most of the cast at the top of their game, but because during this forty-some-odd minutes we learn a lot about a lot of these characters in their behavior and interaction with each other....and in the course of these interaction, learn some things we don't realize we learn until the resolution of this season's mystery has shaken out.

No comments:

Post a Comment