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April 13 2006

Veronica Mars is no Buffy. What it was that Buffy had that is missing on Veronica Mars.

I do love Veronica Mars, but I can't really argue with the points the article makes. VM tends to be much more about plot rather than character, where Buffy was a nice mixture of both, rarely sacrificing one for the other.
The second comment over on the linked post pretty much nails it. If you read nothing else, read that.
I watched S1 of Veronica Mars on DVD, though i was going to wait for S2 on DVD as it was on the same time as Lost and i chose Lost.

I liked S1 of VM, really, but it was nowhere near BtVS. A problem i had with VM was its reliance on the "who killed lily kane?" stuff. While that may be great for the season, once you know and then watch it all once more and catch the little clues and whatnot, then that's pretty much it. I don't find VM anywhere near as rewatchable as BtVS is.
Another thing about VM that bothered me a bit were the characters who weren't Veronica. In S1 some of them felt like they were there to be suspects, and others just never connected. Mack just kind of pops in and out, not part of the group.
I could go on like this, but the point is that the article is right. Veronica Mars is no Buffy.
I don't mind that VM's characters have down-to-earth lives, goals, etc. It's not a fantasy show. The fact that they're not heroes in a mythic fight against Evil doesn't mean they "lack soul and an overall moral compass". I find that a silly statement about a show that portrays, among other things, such an amazing father-daughter relationship.

ETA: bix, I just got that you meant this comment. Yep, that gets to the heart of the matter.

[ edited by jam2 on 2006-04-13 08:20 ]
The one nitpick I have about the show is that the characters never seem to grow. They always seem make the same mistakes and never learn from them. Its not a big problem but in the future if every character reverts to status quo, people may lose interest in the story. Hopefully we'll get to see what Rob Thomas has planned for third season.
I agree with Jam2 . More than witty and sarcastic, the storyline and the characters Veronica Mars are cynical, so I donīt see any space for a calling, heroics (other than the day-by-day type) and spirituality in VM. Itīs not a show about metaphysics like Buffy. I really enjoy both shows, but they see the world diferently.
So the complaint is that the VM characters lack a "higher calling?" That's real life, at least for those of us with atheistic worldviews. Which probably explains the disagreement over the significance of it.
Yeah, I sort of resent the assumption that VM should be like BTVS. This comparison, due primarily to the intelligence of both shows in their recognition of the complexity of teenagers' lives, is one that troubles me, especially as, if the show were more like its blonde girl predecessor, it would be vilified for imitating. It's a singular thing.

In addition, I think that Logan is the most fully realized and complex male teenager I've seen in...a long time. He may seem sans morality, but he wears his true emotions under cellophane--so obviously raw. I find the inability to see this character's subtleties as the viewer's problem, not that of the writers or the actor.
There are so many things missing in the whole "Buffy Vs. Veronica" comparison. It's getting kind of absurd since Veronica Mars, especially in its second season, isn't NEARLY as good as Buffy was in its worst year (pick and choose which for yourselves).

And there's really no other basis for comparison. If you think about it.

Both heroines have blonde hair and are in high school and are occassionally witty. Uhhhhhhhh... huh?
I think the second season of VM has been very flawed so far (though it's definitely been picking up, recently), but there's no *way* that it's worse than Buffy's first season. Or third season.

I was hoping no one would voice their pick(s) for Buffy's worst season. Because that's not what we're talking about.

VMars this season has been such a mess. It has sporadically bordered on emotional but the supporting characters are NEVER as compelling as Veronica, so this whole Weevil/Logan thing is like seven snores. And conceptually, it's all over the place.

Did you guys notice that tonight's episode INTRODUCED SUSPECTS THAT WE'VE NEVER SEEN ON SCREEN BEFORE, but who had apparently been around the show's characters LONG before the present. It was like a fubuducking COLD CASE episode with all its flashbacks.

I'm really not mad. I'm happy to have a show I enjoy watching at all.

And I love you guys all very much.
I agree that the way the question is posed is irritating - the shows are so clearly different that I'm not sure why, other than lazy journalistic space-filling, this comparison keeps being thrown out there.

Still, if the writer is seeking to understand why as a subjective matter she likes VM less than she liked BtVS, I can relate. I sat down with the VM Season One DVD boxed set with such high expectations. After 14 or so episodes, it continued to leave me more or less cold. Cool intelligence, perhaps, but little heart. IMO. Now maybe that's a trait of film noir, but while I can stomach a 95-minute hardboiled world, I don't care to watch one over the space of 20-plus episodes. Just a personal preference, I suppose.
SoddingNancyTribe, I agree with you. I think the storylines have gotten a bit too dark for the world the show has created. There's sooooo much plot crammed into each episode that it's been beyond exhausting, and detaches us so far from the characters we grew to love in the first season.

A once-great show.
Ah, well, TheZeppo, I hate to throw your agreement back at you, but I haven't seen the show beyond the first 14 episodes, so I can't comment on recent developments. And I guess I never grew to love the characters to begin with. But thanks for the support! :)
Eee, sorry.

Well, by the end of the first season, at least for me, team Veronica took us for the right kind of ride and we were rewarded by the end. HOWEVER, I watched it while it was on, meaning I was lucky enough to avoid all the hype. So... it might be better that way.

Watch it as its own show (obviously).
SNT - If you've only seen the first 14 episodes of season one you're truely missing out. You want heart? Just watch the rest. It's subtle, but when you catch on to it, the heart of that show breathtaking.

Season two has seemed a bit slow, I'll admit, but I still have faith. It's by far the best show on television that I've had time to watch.

A side point: I caught Buffy on DVD after it originally aired on television. I think I enjoyed it more because of that. With VM, all the annoying waiting between episodes dulls some of the punch, I think. And - jeeez - people on the internet can be so damn harsh. Sometimes, you love a show because you want to as well as because it's so damn good.
Okay. So this was posted on a site called "", in a section called "religion + pop culture blog".

What on earth was everyone expecting? It's a nicely written piece that comes from a very pre-defined angle, and angle that VM obviously doesn't really satisfy. That's what happens when, as a journalist, you approach a subject not open-minded and curious, but with pre-conceived notions, well-meant as those may be.

(And those comments? When did the words "atheist" and "spiritual" become mutually exclusive?)
VM feels more like a JJ Abrams show than a Joss Whedon show to me, but it is better than anything Abrams has done. The show is called Veronica Mars, and it is completely about her. Supporting characters don't appear in every episode, and some disappear for several at a time. In Buffy, we saw Xander and Willow for 287 of 288 eps., no matter how much Buffy complained about being alone she never really was. The shows are in many ways apples and oranges except for the fact that they star strong, young, female characters. Hopefully VM will get to continue and will grow as Buffy did in consistency after its 2nd season.
Supporting characters don't appear in every episode, and some disappear for several at a time.

I think that might be partly to do with the show's budget.
So the complaint is that the VM characters lack a "higher calling?" That's real life, at least for those of us with atheistic worldviews.

Actually, what has irritated me about season 2 of VM is this exact thing -- last season, Veronica did have a "calling", or at least a higher purpose. She was determined to bring Lilly Kane's murder to justice, re-unite her parents, vindicate her dad, find her rapist, regain Duncan's... affection. She was moved by these desires that were intimate and intense and made her one of the best characters on TV. It's not the mystical nature of the calling that's important, it's the fact that the main character has solid motivation for everything she does. She has to care; otherwise we viewers don't care.

This season, Veronica seems very adrift. The mystery of the bus crash is motivating her, and the show tries to show how deeply she feels about it (particularly in the latest ep), but frankly, it's not as personally compelling as, say, who killed her best friend and ripped her family apart. She has been disconnected and somewhat affectless, which is realistic for a California high school senior, but boring on TV. The biggest thing this year to involve her was the plotline about Meg's baby, and that was one of the silliest things I've seen on the show, ever.

I adore BtVS -- no surprise -- and truly think in most ways it's superior to VM. But maybe that wouldn't be so easy to say if VM season 2 was not such a disappointment after last year. I also have issues with a lot of other things about the show, particularly the confusing and random nature of the main mystery, but mostly it's all about Veronica and co.
I do think that it's a shame that Veronica Mars is getting the constant comparisons to BtVS, although given the obvious links such as Alyson and Charisma, not to mention some Whedon guy making an appearance (did he write a couple of episodes of Buffy or something? Memory fails me) it was inevitable, I guess. It has led to VM getting an unfair standard to reach each week though. A new show being compared to Buffy right from the start is like a new band being expected to live up to Led Zepplin, Nirvana or the Foo Fighters during their first gig.

That said, even removing the direct comparisons, I don't enjoy VM anywhere near as much as I did Buffy. Not even close. It's an okay show and I try and catch it each week but I would be lying if I said that i'd seen every episode. Some weeks it just completely slips my mind, although the Saturday morning timeslot that Living TV has given it doesn't help. I'm not always even awake by the time it starts.

Truthfully, the show isn't really my sort of thing anyway. I started watching it based on Joss recommending it but it's a little too down to earth for me. I usually like my series to be a lot more scifi or fantasy based, 24 being the big exception. If I lived in the US there is absolutely no chance that I would choose VM over Lost, for example.

I'll probably keep watching Veronica Mars for as long as it is on but I won't be buying the DVD sets and I won't shed any tears if there is no season three.
My problem with VM is that it positions itself in high school and yet presents high school students with such knowledge of evil and corruption that it beggars description. I don't know any kids like these, at all, so that always intrudes into my enjoyment of the show. Now, I know that this is supposed to be noir, yet the reality is that kids really aren't like this- they are supposed to embody adult traits in the show, but then, what do we have the adults there for? I thought S1 was excellent, having said that, and agree that you need the see the remaining eps past the first 14 for the full beauty of the way it all resolves to hit you, but S2 has floundered to me and I have stopped watching. I do not think we shall see S3. And I am tired of Logan, really and truly.

But I do agree that the supporting characters have shown none of the growth we saw in the supporting characters of Buffy, many of whom became the main reason we watched the show. Had SMG left the show, I think we would have continued to watch (with a new slayer and a change in the manner in which the Scoobs interact with her); if Kristen Bell leaves VM, there is no show.
Yeah, I agree that VM season 2 hasn't quite caught light as far as the arc goes but I think within the confines of the show the character development has been just fine and some of the stand-alone episodes have been brilliant (I really enjoy seeing how she puts one over on her 'mark', reminds me of 'Hustle' or the best heist movies).

Clearly the article's author is looking at the show from a religious perspective (and that's cool) but as the article's comments mention, VM is not about a higher calling or the big questions of existence. Like noir since the genre first appeared it's about grubbing around in the underlayers, scratching a living, trying to stay as moral as possible in a world of dubious morality. It's about the darkness in all of us (whereas Buffy was much more about the light).

I do agree though that VM has a less well defined through-line than Buffy did. Buffy was basically a rites of passage show about a young girl becoming a young woman and her various trials along the way. One of my few complaints about VM is that Veronica herself seems pretty much 'done' i.e. she's already more grown-up and competent than a lot of the adults in her world and also has stronger moral convictions than most which means that (as was mentioned above) most of the development in the show is plot driven (though, in fairness, it's hard to do otherwise with a mystery where the plot is usually more important than in other types of story).

(And those comments? When did the words "atheist" and "spiritual" become mutually exclusive?)

Totally agree bschnell. The author seems to have made one of the most common errors religious people make about atheists, which is to say, assuming we're all empty inside and see the universe as purely mechanistic. I do believe the universe is mechanistic (i.e. ruled by consistent physical laws without supernatural intervention) but I also have what I would describe as 'spiritual' feelings almost every day, most often when I look at the natural world (and since I was a child i've been profoundly moved by something as simple as a photo of the Earth from space - to me it seems to capture a lot of the most important aspects of us as a species i.e. that we're all living on the same ball of dirt together AND that we are capable of reaching for the stars).

And yep as Simon mentions, long absences like Wallace's earlier in the season are mainly down to not being able to afford all the actors.

Personally, I really, really hope we get a season 3 to find out if there's anything Rob Thomas can do to move beyond these criticisms and take the show up to the level Buffy reached.
I only started watching VM because of the high praises from this site. And I even followed the instructions and watched season 1 first (in order on dvd)...keep in mind I have yet to see season 2 because I didn't want to pick it up in the middle. (Also keep in mind that I couldn't read most of the posts here for fear of a season 2 spoiler)

My point is simple, VM is not Buffy. Buffy had me on the first episode and VM had me by about mid-season. But what this thread made me think of is the fact that it even took almost an entire season of Angel before I was drawn in. Lets see what happens moving forward...
I do think that this season's arc is nowhere near as strong as last years. But I love VM a great deal. I don't think you can compare a complete run of a show, BTVS, with the season and a half of a new show, VM. The complete deal vs. a work in progress is always going to be lopsided.

Now if you compare the quality and consistancy and season theme of S1 of Btvs and VM, imo VM wins. S2 of Btvs vs. the almost complete S2 of VM, imo Btvs wins. But then this season isn't over yet.

I know people compare the two because it's blonde schoolgirls with a life outside the norm of others their age. But that's really for me where it ends. It's all apples and oranges, metaphor vs. reality. Can't do a proper comparison. I like them both for their own qualities and trying to put one down, or raise one up, in comparison to the other I feel does both a disservice. It's like the old "my vampire is better than your vampire" arguements of times past. I always liked both for different reasons. Same with these shows.
One of the reasons I find VM compulsive watching is because of the emptiness within Veronica herself. Her intense unhappiness. I couldn't believe any of the romatic moments because I couldn't see that they actually fulfilled her in anyway. What the writer of this article dislikes is what I like about the show. But that said, yes, it isn't as compelling this year.
Well. I've never watched Veronica Mars, but considering there's been so many Whedon fans of the show, I've always considered it. But now that I find that the comparisons to Buffy seem to be in mostly dialogue, I think I'm okay in passing. Because honestly, my love for Buffy comes from my love for the characters, and the way the writers loved them, and cared to develop each and every one. Many times over.
"My problem with VM is that it positions itself in high school and yet presents high school students with such knowledge of evil and corruption that it beggars description." Dana5140

I'm not sure how many 17-18 yr olds you know, but as a mother of a recent high school graduate, I can assure you that he has a very comprehensive knowledge of evil and corruption, both real and imagined, and can very adeptly apply this knowledge to what he is viewing. Part of his senior English course consisted of deconstructing texts (novels, films, TV shows, advertisements) and he can readily apply these skills to shows he watches. He is also able to apply his life experiences (regardless of how 'limited' some people view them) to these same shows, and make quite remarkable readings of same. Young people today are more 'worldly' than the generation before, and should in no way be denigrated for their youthfullness - they are probably more able to understand evil and corruption in our world today, than my generation ever were.
Anyhow, there's no spaceship in VM, so Firefly is better than VM.

Wait... am I missing something?
And people always seem to forget that VM is in a heightened reality anyway. It's in a noir setting full of evil and corruption, and so the characters are written with that in mind. Just like Buffy's reality of Sunnydale and demons wasn't our world, the same can be said of VM's Neptune.

I would also argue that the only character there's no growth/change in is Veronica herself, because living in Neptune makes it impossible for her to do so. She's stuck there, using skills she honed after Lilly's murder (which she tried to drop once it was solved, but couldn't), to make money off her fellow students, cross ethical lines, and not get close to anyone.

She's cynical and jaded all to hell, and the only way she'll start to live and be a complete person, is if she gets out of that town where she'll start to feel comfortable opening herself up.

But she'll never get outta there, so she's screwed.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-04-13 15:26 ]
I think VM is better.

VM doesn't abuse plot the way Buffy did. Even the writers admit that Buffy was a bunch of maguffin to get a character to a certain spot.

VM takes a plausible but intricate plot and analyzes where it takes the characters. It's much much more organic.

Also, y'all are being snooty today.

And LOST is nonsense.
Chirp, I'm not sure exactly where we are being snooty. In fact most of us have stated that we actually like Veronica Mars, even if not as much as we did Buffy. It is allowed to prefer one show over another without it being "snooty". That is just called personal preference.

The point that most have been trying to make is that you simply cannot compare the two shows, beyond the most superficial of levels. Buffy was a fantasy show, VM is much more real world. It stands to reason that Buffy's plot would have to be that much more fanciful but that does not make it a "bunch of maguffin". It makes it a fantasy based television show.

Also, I would say that simply saying that Lost is nonsense is probably the snootiest comment made in this thread so far. Especially as that is far from being true. Again though, that is just your personal opinion. Does stating it make you snooty? You tell me.
Heh. Nice one, Chirp.

Primeval: He was being sarcastic.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-04-13 15:59 ]
I find the BtVS comparisons in articles like these kind of amusing. Even if Veronica and Buffy may share blonde, quippy heroines, VM and AtS really have far more in common with their noir setting and attitude.

It seems a bit iffy to say that Veronica can't grow or change just because she's doomed to stay in Neptune, though. Is she ever going to become a "complete person" in Neptune? No. But Angel was hanging in L.A. for five years, living in a world that he acknowledged as harsh and cruel, often taking two steps back for every step forward he managed, and he crossed an ethical line or two while staying pretty distant from people. But I can't think of Angel as someone who didn't change for those five seasons, even if it was pretty much a given that he was never going to be "complete."

I find it amusing that Veronica and Buffy get compared just by nature of being blonde and quippy. I think Angel and Veronica have far more in common with each other...both AtS and VM are more "adult" shows by nature of their noir setting. Personally, I really enjoy the entire idea of high school as noir, and the noir storylines accompanied by the San Diego beach and palm trees really tickle me. But it seems to really rub others the wrong way because it's so out-there, and some people (like the writers of the article) just don't seem to get the entire point of the noir feel. Berating it for not being enough like BtVS is ridiculous.

Now, if we were gonna compare AtS and VM, I could get into that. Say, for example, the problem this year with Veronica being "disconnected"...I'd far prefer it if they actually ran with it. Like, say, the way Angel's storyline was handled in S5? With Connor gone, the show ran with his feeling of disconnection and made the season about it. In VM, with Lilly gone, the show tried too hard to outdo itself, trying to convince viewers that Veronica really did care about the bus crash despite all evidence to the contrary. I would have been fine with it if they'd played it the way it really was: that Veronica couldn't care about any other mystery the way she cared about solving Lilly's murder. If they'd run with the feeling of disconnect the way AtS S5 had, it could have been fine.
I think you just pinpointed my problem with the season, meimi--Veronica's driving force for the mystery is survivor's guilt. Whereas last year it was love. Love for Lilly, love for Duncan, for her father, and for her mother.

It's just harder to connect to the former for an extended period of time.

And, the "Meg was the only one who survived the crash because she was carrying Duncan's child and then she died and Duncan foolishly left the country to get the child away from her abusive grandparents" was just so soap opera and pointless, and it makes me sad that that was thought to be a good idea.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-04-13 16:10 ]

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-04-13 16:15 ]
I'm with those who consider the comparison to be unfair: Buffy had an ancient calling thrust upon her and was slowly learning to accept her role as a hero (at the end of her first season we see her trying to 'quit'). But Veronica's situation was the reverse, in her first episode we learn she has lost everything: her best friend has died, her boyfriend has left her, her Mother has left, her Father has lost his job, and she has been raped. Frankly I think it would be more reasonable to compare Veronica to Mal than to Buffy.
Primeval: He was being sarcastic.

Uuuh ... yeah ... I knew that ... obviously! I was just being sarcastic too! Couldn't you tell???

Sorry about that, Chirp. The sarcasm went right over my head. I'd blame it on having a hard day but I'm really not, hehe. Guess my sarcasometer is running a little low on power today. ;)
I read an article once (I think there was a link here actually) where it said Veronica Mars exists because of Buffy. Mainly because UPN got the last two seasons of Buffy they were given credibility and the Buffy audience allowed them to make the kind of show Veronica Mars is, which is vastly different to kind of show UPN used to be doing.

So while it may not be fair to compare the two, it's easy to see why the comparisons are made.

Personally I don't watch the show. I gave it a chance, watched the pilot, didn't do anything for me. At the end of the episode I didn't really care about the characters.
Yeah meimi, Ats and VM have quite a lot more in common though I also think (now anyway, after having my mind changed a bit by a previous discussion) that a Buffy/VM comparison isn't totally without merit since as well as having young, blond, sarcastic female protagonists and being set in heightened realities both shows are subverting traditionally male dominated roles and empowering young women in the process.

(as far as comparing shows though then I think that is a bit unfair since VM's just starting and Buffy had 7 years and an extended mythology in Angel to really reach us)

pat32082, i'm going to show my true cynical colours now because I saw it more as anger that drove Veronica in season 1. She'd had her best friend, her Mum, really her entire life torn from her (not to mention that, as far as she knew, she'd been raped) and I think she was really pissed off and kind of keen to find out who was behind it all (though she was also honouring Lily's memory by finding the truth).

(and I agree that the Meg storyline had a kind of 'Dawson Mars' feel to it though I liked the manipulations and machinations that led to the climax, she so played them all ;)
Won't weigh all the way in on this, mostly because I think the constant comparisons between one show and another border on the juvenile. One show is one show, the other show is the other. Period.

But I simply can't ignore meimei and Saje's Angel comparisons. I HEARTILY agree that VM shares more in common with AtS that with Buffy. And more importantly, I just can't stay out of any discussion that has anything to do with AtS these days.

Oh yeah, and I happen to be one of those extremely spiritual atheists that the author apparently doesn't believe exist.
GaladrielOz, I have a set of 25-year-old twin boys and a 21-year-old son, I have a mom who is a retired high school teacher, and both my older kids are high school teachers. I grew up with and around high school teachers. I still say the level of evil in this show is not realistic; I do not say kids don't know about the bad things in this world. I just think that using these rich corrupted kids does not work well for me- this is very much the kind of stuff you see in noir, in much older people, but for kids, not so much. In this show, things like date rape is a common occurance among the wealthy; everyone is truly messed up, no one is happy, ever, and there is no metaphor. :-)
The way I see it, if this can make sense at all, is think of your first pet. Oh how you loved little Toto or Fluffy! You had such good times together and then they went to live on a farm. You still thought about them and loved them, looking at old pictures of you together. You always thought of them when people talk about their pets and at first didn't want another pet ever. Then one day out of the blue, you fell in love again, you weren't looking for it, it just happened. You may have felt guilty at first. Then you realized that Toto would want you to be happy and that you weren't replacing him just loving someone new. It is a different love and not to be compared. Fluffy will always have that special place in your heart, but you still have to live your life.
Well, I'm joining this debate late, and I think most of the important points have already been made.
Basically, where I see overlap between VM and BtVS (and therefore a basis for comparison) is that both feature smart, snappy high school heroines, and both shows use genre as a metaphor for high school's drama and angst (high school as hell, high school as hard-boiled noir setting).
Beyond that, they're different shows. And because of the difference in genre, as others have pointed out, it's a crazy comparison to talk about VM's lack of metaphysics or higher callings and purpose or all those things that really don't belong in a darker, more noir-ish show.

I love VM, I love Buffy. VM has never come close to my Buffy love, but then, no show really has (even those shows, like the Wire, that I acknowledge are "better"). I do agree with Pat32082's comments above that this season has been a little lacking in the emotional resonance of season 1 because Veronica lacks that connection. Whether she was motivated through anger or love last season, she had an incredible personal stake in what she was investigating, from the loss of her best friend, to how the cover-up had cost her father her job and disintegrated her family, to her own date rape. This season, there's less connection to the kids on the bus, and the survivor's guilt she feels (or even the fear that she really is indirectly responsible) doesn't seem quite as deeply felt.. I'm still loving the season, and it's picked up a lot in recent episodes, but it's not quite as stellar as the first season.

Oh, and Lovella, my Buffy love is completely that way. It was the first TV show I fell in love with (got obsessed with?) and it will always have a special spot in my heart because of that. I've learned to love some other shows, and I've discovered other shows are truly outstanding (before Buffy, I didn't have a TV, and really pretty much believed that all TV shows were crap, and you had to go the movies to see good art). Some are even better than Buffy. But so far, there are none i love quite so much - because, i think, buffy was the first... That, and there was such and emotional investment in/connection to those characters.
It's meant to be teenage noir, Dana. That's the point.
this is very much the kind of stuff you see in noir, in much older people, but for kids, not so much. In this show, things like date rape is a common occurance among the wealthy; everyone is truly messed up, no one is happy, ever, and there is no metaphor. :-)

No, the metaphor is noir. It's not meant to be realistic, but it paints high school as it sometimes feels to those in it. The same way that the most outlandish situations on Buffy could feel emotionally real (because let's face it - high school can sometimes seem like hell, and teenage years are a time when all the emotions are ramped up and everything becomes melodrama), VM uses film noir as a metaphor to get across that same heightened sense of melodrama and emotions and being outcast and general teenage problems. Ramped up to the level at which many high schoolers perceive them, rather than showing their actual, real-world level of importance.
I watched "Brick" last weekend (very enjoyable movie, if anyone is looking for a film to see), and it does very much the same thing, even more explicitly. It's pretty much Sam Spade crossed with John Hughes.

[ edited by acp on 2006-04-13 17:43 ]
Thanks, acp, I was about to mention Brick. I haven't yet had a chance to see it (it's not playing here), but I'm looking forward to it whenever it hits DVD. Glad to hear another positive comment about it.
Well while this article's main point, that VM characters need 'higher callings' seems fairly silly to me (but then, I suppose that's thematically to be at least half-expected on a site called '') I do agree with many of the other points, as well as those of many on this thread.

I like VM. I do. I think it's a good show. But I also know by now that I will most likely never have the fiery passion for that Joss himself apparently has. It's well-written, it has good people in the roles, it's clever, and it has surprised me on more than one occasion. I enjoy it.

But I just don't....FEEL it. I can't really fall in love with most of the characters or their world like I was hoping to. Like SNT I've had moments where I feel myself start to care less and less. Especially when I watch it on TV, with two weeks of reruns in between real episodes. I often have trouble remembering who was suspected of what and who had what connection to who. More of a 'DVD show' for me I think.

I also do thoroughly agree with the article's comment how a large part of the character line-up consists of bored, selfish rich boys. VM and her dad are great, and I like Logan, but that's about it. Duncan was (to quote Spike) as 'dull as a table lamp' and the others just blend in. Even the Wallace character still seems so...thin and uninteresting. (I still feel they don't know what to do with him) Most of the side characters aren't that interesting to me to tell the truth.

I don't know...I may rent the rest of S2 once it comes out, because the main plot is really losing me on a TV schedule. But even then I really think that 'liking it fine' or 'enjoying it a lot' is as high as goes for me. I don't think it will ever be 'loving it passionately!' or 'obsessing over it!' like it was for me with Joss' shows, or like it looks to become with my new favorite, 'Battlestar Galactica'. (Now THAT show blew me away...)

[ edited by EdDantes on 2006-04-13 18:04 ]
An interesting thread...most of the points I would make have already been presented so I'll simply state that while I love Veronica Mars, it isn't fair to compare it to Buffy. In my opinion, Buffy was the best show ever aired on American TV (and I suspect that could be generalized to the entire planet), Veronica Mars battles House for the title of "best show currently on TV". I would probably rank VM very high overall, but certainly below Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dead Like Me, La Femme Nikita, The Highlander and Homicide, Life on the Street.
EdDantes, regarding Battlestar Galactica. Could NOT agree more. Now that is a show that had me hooked from the start and there is absolutely NO chance that I would ever miss an episode, no matter what. Just way too good.

EDIT: Calledon, another Highlander fan, huh? Knew there had to be more around here than just me, hehe. :)

[ edited by Primeval on 2006-04-13 18:09 ]
I'm glad the discussion finally started drifting toward what VM is rather than what it is not. Obviously VM and Buffy are vastly different shows with vastly different agendas. I don't think there even needs to be emotional resonance in a show so heavily grounded in noir. In fact, I'm trying to think of a classic noir movie protagonist that had any real, lasting emotional impact, and I certainly can't think of any noir supporting characters that had any real growth. That just isn't what the genre does.

The defining aspects of noir are the detached and cynical protagonist who is smarter than those around him, the extremely convuluted plot that is several sizes too large for the story and probably contains holes, and the supporting characters who simply serve as a means to an end as the protagonist hunts down the antagonist/goal. Maybe you appreciate it, and maybe you don't.

On the subject of Brick I also saw it this last weekend and was pretty much stunned. I do not know what it is about the noir genre that draws me, but it does so with an iron grip and this movie had me by the throat.
Yeah, I pretty much agree with everything EdDantes just said. VM season one was fantastic, but I watched the entire thing on DVD in rapid-fire viewings (practically in one sitting). That makes it much easier to digest. Season two has lost me in many places. It's hard to keep track from one ep to the next who's who and what everyone has supposedly done. Maybe viewing it all in one sitting on DVD will help that... but I doubt it.

And Galactica is an amazing show. Best show on the air... err, when it IS on the air that is.

Oh, and count another Highlander fan right here.

[ edited by Haunt on 2006-04-13 18:14 ]
Well, I love VM!

This week may have introduced new suspects, but they'll be just red herrings. Either way, last weeks episode was possibly one the finest episode of any show seen on televison this entire year. Also, I've watched most of these episodes at least 2-3 times, and last seasons some of the eps upwards of 7 times. I do think this season, the writing has been a little sporadic, but overall, there has been a greater consistency of good episodes this season, I think then last season. Yes, last season had the great Lily mystery & the drugged rape, but there were an awful lot of mediocre MOTW's wedged in between great episodes. This season there have been a lot of plot twists, and intricacies; which we have to wrap up in 4 more episodes. I'd say they'll be some steller episodes. We have Haarons court case, which will most likely draw V and Logan together, not to mention, all the little mysteries that'll be tied together. The next month is going to be great.

Now, some of the stuff that has made this season not as great, I believe is the large breaks we had mid seaon for the Olympics, and a few re run episodes, as well as a time slot move. Anyhoo...

Just had to add, Lovella your little analogy there reminded me of a little bit of dialogue from my all time favourite comedy show SPACED. From the guys who made Shaun of the Dead.

Daisy: In the end, our relationship was just like a sandwich toaster. You know, you just forget you've got one. And it just sits there on the top of the cupboard collecting a layer of greasy fudge. And even if you do see it you just assume it's broken, you think if it's working I'd be using it all the time, but you don't and it just sits there. Then one day, you get an overwhelming desire for toasted sandwiches, you know? And you get it down and it works, and you can't believe it, you know? And then you make every kind of toasted sandwich there is, you have toasted sandwich parties. You make Marmite and cheese, chocolate and...
Tim: Pilchards.
Daisy: Banana and...
Bilbo: Acorns.
Daisy: Acorns. And then as quickly as the desire comes, it just goes. And then you put the toaster sandwich maker away. And, you know what?
Tim: What?
Daisy: You don't miss it.
Bilbo: So what you're saying is 'Don't hide the toasted sandwich maker away, use him regularly and you'll get the most out of him'.
Tim: No, she's saying 'Chuck your boyfriend, have a sandwich'.

So you're saying you prefer your pets toasted nixygirl ? Duly noted ;).
Heh heh Saje, yep, that is exactly what I'm saying. ;-D
A vote for Highlander! Partly due to knowing my Dad used to like it and I would watch with him. Even wrangled a friend into seeing the movie.
If it comes to toasted pets though, I'm more of a Monte Cristo gal myself :)
"My problem with VM is that it positions itself in high school and yet presents high school students with such knowledge of evil and corruption that it beggars description." Dana5140

I would disagree with you, too. I have a 16-year-old who defies this contention about teenagers. When I was 16, I was like that, too. (I dropped out of high school to become a union organizer for 5 years and worked with some of the most notable people in US - and world - history.) Veronica Mars is also her current favorite TV show (as well as mine).

I, personally, love this season's complex story arc(s). Clearly the loose ends will come together. The story has obviously been painstakingly planned out from beginning to end. If any inconsistencies occur (and so far I see none), I'm willing to bet it's because of network interference rather than writer ineptitude. Networks always seem to be pressuring writers to dumb their shows down to play to the lowest common denominator (what I call the ADD crowd). I love this show because it isn't dumbed down.

It probably is unfair to compare it to Buffy. BtVS was unique. It was a fantasy representation of real-world problems and issues. It dealt with the continuous conflict between good and evil, yet thankfully blurred the lines between the two over time. Buffy's "higher calling" of saving the world was clear. That was her mission, and we were told this in many ways, over and over again. Veronica also has a "higher calling," but it's not written out for us in big bold (metaphorical) letters. Hers is to seek justice for people (including herself) who have been wronged in some way. She's not saving the whole world at once from seasonal apocalypses, but she is saving individuals one at a time.

Furthermore, there are bigger world issues that Veronica Mars does take on, such as class conflict, racism, homophobia, materialism, and corporate and political corruption. Instead of doing this metaphorically the way it's been done on Buffy, Angel, or Firefly, it's done in more real-life terms (and yet, the show isn't presented as a series of morality plays). BtVS never really dealt with class conflict (though to Joss's credit, Firefly and Serenity did).

The writing on VM is air-tight. I've rarely seen a show that crams so much story into one episode so consistently. It happened quite a lot on Buffy and Angel, but NOT consistently. The dialogue on VM is sharp and entertaining, and the characters have shown change over time (though not all of them have progressed at the same rate). It's true that the plots are not generally character driven as they were in Buffy, but so far, I haven't seen a VM version of "Some Assemby Required" or "Inca Mummy Girl." I think the last few episodes of VM have flowed more like Buffy episodes. In fact, during this week's episode, I said to my daughters "This feels like a Buffy episode."

While VM has all the quality (writing, acting, directing, compelling stories) of BtVS, Veronica is not going to be a cultural icon the way Buffy has become. She doesn't break any molds, but builds upon the foundation that was established by Buffy. There are no blonde vampires with souls, or magical scythes, or cute witches hellbent on destroying the world, or any of the other colorful elements of fantasy that distinguish it from all other shows. Few people remember the Olympic silver medalist or the second person to walk on the moon. Veronica Mars is Buzz Aldrin.
Did someone say "toast"? With strawberry jam please.
OMG, Monte Cristos are THE BEST!
Veronica Mars is Buzz Aldrin.

Well thanks for that image ; )
OK, I had to look up what exactly a Monte Cristo was; possibly a book about a Count of some sort, with turkey, cheese and ham placed in between its pages, dipped in egg and fried?

It's a literary heart attack on a plate! (boom boom) ; )

*runs away from stupid pun*
Mmmm... Monte Cristo.... I think I need to go make myself some lunch :-)
That's well said Nebula1400. I think she is a seeker after justice though it still comes across as dark and cynical at least partly because she often does it for money and doesn't usually actively look for wrongs to right. It's a staple of hard-boiled detective fiction though that the protagonist rails against the unfairness of the world and continues in their quest until some kind of balance - or at least resolution - is found (I think I remember Philip Marlowe, for instance, pursuing a case after the client had refused to continue paying him - he just had to find out the truth, though he'd never put it in such self-aggrandising terms - and Veronica's the same). Similar to House or Brennan from Bones (though probably to a lesser extent) she's elevated the pursuit of big-T (i.e. objective) truth to the point where it's a core element of her personal identity.

It's also true that it deals with a lot of 'issues' though, sad to say, because of the real world setting I hadn't really noticed this. Those kinds of problems (casual racism, homophobia etc.) are just part of the backdrop to any (even sort of) realistic drama. Strange but (IMO) true to say that the Buffy style 'issue at one remove' metaphorical approach actually serves to highlight the addressed problem more than a 'real' world setting where it just kind of meets our expectations and blends in.

As an aside, i'd hate to be the third young female protagonist show on the air because even fewer people remember Pete Conrad or the 'third man' on the Apollo 11 mission, Michael Collins ;-).

(yep, I had to look up Monte Cristo too. Mmm, sounds bad enough for you to be really great eating. And nixygirl ? You just can't run far enough or fast enough to get away from that one. It'll haunt ya ;)
acp: I think the operative part of my comment was simply that it does not work for me. It obviously works for others. That's cool, and I am fine with that. :-) Remember, this is not a show I do not like- I think it is quite creative and in some ways operatic in its scope. There are eps that blow me away, like the one with the kid who finds out that his dad is, well, he finds out something about his dad- and then Veronica sits there and tells him how lucky he is, and then West Indian Girl comes on with about as perfect a song for a situation as there has ever been, except for maybe I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You at the end of Family or the Prayer of St. Francis.

My love of late has been for CSI, just the Vegas one, with well- fleshed out characters whom I care for. I love Sarah Sidle...
I cannot tolerate House, mainly because I am a doctor and he does things that would have him fired so fast it would make his head spin, no matter whether he is right or not. Battlestar Galactica is superb as well. I loved Surface, too, and am not ashamed to admit it.

And I really want to get a copy of Hex, but have no idea how.
I think the operative part of my comment was simply that it does not work for me

Totally fair, Dana, and a rebuttal for which there is no response :-)
Different shows work completely differently for everyone. I've only succeeded in winning one person over to The Wire so far, despite my vocal and hyberbolic insistance that it's the best TV show ever made (note I didn't say "favorite" - that honor still belongs to BtVS). Many others, meanwhile, adore American Idol or CSI, and I've never really understood why...
House is so entirely without ethics it's not even funny. Well, OK, it is sort of funny. Oh, who am I kidding ? It's hilarious ;).

(there is a serious point behind it, as Hugh Laurie has said in interview 'Would you rather have someone who's nice or someone who's right ?' though I can see why as a doctor it might be a bit annoying and a lot unrealistic. In fact, new drinking game, take a shot every time House does something he'd get struck off for and two when he commits assault in the process. I bet that'd ease your pain Dana5140 ;)

Also, if you have a multi-region DVD player (most can he altered with a simple sequence on the remote control) both seasons of Hex are available from the UK. Must confess I was so unimpressed with S1 I didn't bother with S2 (mostly good cast, great production values, I just thought the writing was a big let down).
Dana, I don't think I've ever heard a more perfect song for a situation, especially to end an episode, than Michelle Branch doing "Good Bye to You" at the end of Tabula Rasa
You know how some people are attracted to their complete opposites and some couples almost look like brother and sister? I think that factor works for TV. They either like a show because it reminds them of something they see in themselves or want to, or something they could never be or do like a singer or doctor. Or they just flip around the tube looking for somebody hot.

Even though I haven't had one in a while, because I am supposed to be getting healthy over on the Resolutions thread, I seem to remember a jam or sauce of some kind that put the Monte on a whole 'nother level.
Veronica Mars is no Doctor Who either. I'm tired of the comparisons between it and the hit UK scifi show.
Simon - you are a troublemaker with a capital T!
Calledon, Becoming II, 'Full of Grace'. Beautiful is the only word for it.

Lovella, I think that's very true though i'd go a little further and say there's always something of the viewer in a protagonist (even if they're in a role the viewer could never fill e.g. doctor, detective, assassin). Sometimes it's an aspect of the viewer they can't acknowledge in polite society (who wouldn't, at least on occasion, want to have House's apparent complete lack of consideration for social niceties ?), sometimes, as you say, it's something they just wish was a part of their character but to make the connection necessary to really enjoy a show there has to be something to latch onto. Although we should never underestimate the 'random hotness' factor either ;).

Also, can you even have jam with a french toast sandwich ? Reckon there must be a commandment against something that sounds so good ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2006-04-13 21:16 ]
Well, see, I lurves Tara tons so I Only Have Eyes for You really hits me hard- even if was originally written as pertaining to the TV set!

AS for House, it is not that he is not nice, it is that he is often unethical. As a person who teaches bioethics, it drives me nuts to watch what he does. Though the drinking game may indeed help assuage my concerns, but only if scotch is involved. And BTW, I play it as the Rachael Ray game- one drink for each giggle, two for each time she says EVOO, four for each time she says "How good is that?" and so on...
Okay, having just finished the DVD set for Season 1, I am on the VM bandwagon - I see why it's gotten just praise, and I'm looking forward to Season 2 as soon as the reruns start 'cos I don't want to go in in the middle.

That said, I also don't find it as personally compelling as I have Buffy, and haven't been sure why. However thinking about it after having looked at the article and some of the other responses, what I find missing is the sense of family and teamwork that was so much a part of Buffy. That and the humor. Whedon's work all has such a great blend of humor and drama and that's a great deal of why it's so repeatably watchable. VM does have humor, but it's not so much laugh out loud as Whedon shows.

These however are not meant as criticisms of VM. It is after all a very different show - the fact that VM is set in a more realistic universe makes it more difficult to bring in some of the funny and the character is much more of a loner. Buffy gets her team of slayerettes working with her from the start. VM starts out as an outcast and even though she gains friends she never has a team. Even her relationship with her father which is in a lot of respects great, has elements of distrust between them (at least in Season 1).
Can I just be the total 17 year old teenager I am and say I love Veronica Mars? Well I am. Saying it I mean. Obviously on some levels it's much easier for me to relate to this show in a more "real" way, then say, er, some of the older members on here. (Aaaah, don't keel me!) At the same time, I think there's enough material going on to appeal across all ages. Just as with Buffy, there are two ways to watch this show. You can take it on face level, or you can look beyond it. An oft-quoted quote of Joss's is something I don't really remember right now. Even though it's oft-quoted. Something about monsters. Who woulda thunk. Erm, what was I saying?

Anyhoo, as others have already commented on, both shows share fast and snappy dialogue. Iím totally enthralled in the current season. Do I feel the same sort of connection that I did with characters from the Whedonverse? Not quite. But itís getting there. Itís Jossís favourite show, people! You donít doubt the leader!

Iíd probably prefer for the characters to pepper their language with a few more ďlikeĒ and ďwhateverĒ Ďss. ( This is why I get my boyfriend to correct my grammar. Oy.) But I enjoy it much more because they donít. Anyone who doesnít believe that teenage kids can act/think/talk like that needs to get themselves back into high school. (Jesus, WHY? Iím not going back unless you pay me.) In summary, itís aaaaall about the noir, daaahlings. :p
Can I just be the total 17 year old teenager I am and say I love Veronica Mars?

As long as I can be the 37 yr old teenager that I am?
I love Veronica Mars too.

and now also...Monte Cristos!
I've been saying/thinking this since the middle of season one but you know what, at least we have something like this that is even remotely close. Other than VM, all I watch is Lost and West Wing (okay and the Daily Show). That's it. The rest of TV these days is like empty calories.

By the way, I believe Entertainment Weekly called Joss's love for VM "getting/bordering on a little creepy" so you can tell everyone's enthusiasm is fading.

added: oh I forgot Doctor Who. I am just falling of my couch waiting for season two. But it's also no Buffy, then again it's not meant to me.

[ edited by TaraLivesOn on 2006-04-14 08:25 ]
I can't be objective when it comes to this comparison b/c BtVS is really my favorite TV show ever, and it did things, reached emotions and heights, that I don't think TV ever has or maybe ever will reach again. And it's not my first TV love; as a kid, I adored ST:TNG and later on, I lived The X-Files for its first 5 seasons. Both of those shows I feel affection for, but I don't think of them as art. Buffy, to me, is art.

I don't know if Veronica Mars will ever get to that level or art, but it wouldn't hurt for her to have a calling. Buffy's calling, if you strip it of its mystical trappins, served a very simple purpose in storytelling: it gave her motivation. Every drama requires the main character to yearn, to care, to work against obstacles for a goal, and Veronica has not been very goal-oriented this season. I dunno, I guess I feel so irritated because I feel the show isn't living up to its potential. The first season was so wonderful, a
I find VM trite, the actors irksome, several plots outright cheesy, and the creator to be someone who writes to fans and not the show which just reeks of this desperation for fame.

And though this article casts Buffy in the brighter light, the comparisons between these two shows can stop ANY DAY NOW!

[ edited by syd on 2006-04-15 05:59 ]
Can I just be the total 17 year old teenager I am and say I love Veronica Mars?
As long as I can be the 37 yr old teenager that I am?

Heh, hope I can be a 17 year old teenager for a long, long time. ;-)

I feel the big love for VM, but I have to agree that the last ep seemed like they were trying to put a lot of new theories and suspects in at the last minute, which I didn't like. But, it ended so strong last year, that I have to think it will end strong this year, too.

The people who compared Veronica to Angel and to Mal made strong points: they are characters who live in NoirWorld, like Veronica, trying to make their way after they've lost everything. VM's only resemblance to Buffy is superficial -- looks, quips. I also vote in favor of the "teens do understand noir/evil" group -- I think the rich teens of Neptune in particular have been subjected to corrupting influences from their crazy-ass parents, more so than Veronica or the PCHers, who have their own brush with evil (namely, drug-dealing for the PCHers, a slew of personal losses for Veronica). All told, I don't find Veronica's NoirWorld to be so unlikely, at least as far as story-telling goes. I think it's more realistic than House, who damn near kills a patient every week (and at least subjects them to medical complications due to incorrect medication)! ;-)

Sharin' the Monte Cristo love, too. Mmmm!
What did Buffy have that VM doesn't?
That's pretty easy. Joss and Sarah!
"What did Buffy have that VM doesn't?"

My interest.

I'm just not feeling the Veronica Mars love in the slightest. I've seen a good few season one episodes now and the show just seems bland and uninspired to me. I've yet to see an episode where I actually cared about seeing how everything turns out in the end.

The characters are a little too "rich kid" or "street kid" cliche, which makes them unappealing to me. The reason I don't watch The OC is because I have no interest in watching spoiled rich kids going about their day to day lives. The added detective agency theme of VM doesn't help to make the characters any more interesting for me. The one exception is Veronica herself but that is largely to do with the exceptional Kristen Bell, rather than the character.

I personally think that the best thing would be if Veronica Mars did end this season. From friends who actually are fans of the show (not to mention comments made here at Whedonesque) I'm aware that the show has been losing it's direction and focus a little, leading to viewing figures dropping quite noticeably, and considering that we are only in season two that can't be a good sign. Also, Kristen Bell deserves better, in my opinion. Think how good she could be in a Whedon written role.
We have to agree to disagree, The Immortal, about whether VM is great TV and whether it is deserving of renewal or not, but I do have to wonder about one thing you said: From what I've read, VM is getting higher viewing figures, at least since it's back following Olympics and all those other pre-emptions. But, still a relatively small audience compared to the big networks.

And of course, every actor shines when they are fortunate enough to get a Whedonverse role! But I think not every actor is right for the 'Verse; the dialogue is so smart and snarky, you have to be really good at what you do to make it come alive. I certainly agree Ms. Bell would be great, and I'm sure Joss thinks so, too (or should I say, the rental car agency employee of the month!) ;-)

BTW (and off topic, sorry), Kristen was in a few eps of Deadwood last season, another show where you really have to bring it -- and she brought it! Sarah Pauley, who played the Alliance investigator of what happened on Miranda in Serenity, was also on Deadwood, as Miss Isringham -- great performance!

Hey, getting pre-empted every other week for sports -- sound horribly, horribly familiar? :-(
billz, I don't have accurate enough information to debate the viewing figures week by week with you too adamantly. I don't follow the fortunes of the show all that closely and, as said above, most of the info I do get comes through friends who actually do enjoy the show. With that in mind I tend to trust what they tell me.

That said, having just done a little checking up to make sure I wasn't entirely wrong in my assumptions, it does seem that the figures are not looking great for VM, with a steep drop for the first episode in it's new (or rather, old) Tuesday night slot (down to 1.7/2 from the previous week's 2.0/3). At this point in the season that can't be considered a good thing, especially as the figures are not stellar at the best of times.

Regarding your Deadwood comments, very true indeed.
Several people I know love VM. These are people whose opinion I tend to listen to so I gave it a shot. I can't put my finger on why, but the show just didn't hold my interest.

If you like VM you should be glad I don't watch it. Shows I catch from the beginning usually don't last. Long running shows I finally start watching are usually cancelled.

I didn't start watching Buffy until season 7 and Angel until season 5.

Firefly, on the other hand, I started watching from episode one. Well, what Fox called episode one anyway.

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