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August 27 2006

(SPOILER) A review of the Veronica Mars second season DVD with a Buffy mention. Mike Moody of the Brownsville Herald loves Veronica Mars, and like others, thinks it is the second coming of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

This link does contain spoilers for season 2, so I thought I would throw that in there. Veronica Mars season 2 came out on DVD on the 22nd.

Wow, and I was just researching release dates for season 1 in Australia! Which doesn't seem good, if anyone's interested.

That review is positively glowing. While I do indeed love the show, nothing compares to Buffy in my heart.
I have to say, the DVD gag reel with Alyson Hannigan, Joss Whedon and Charisma Carpenter was very funny. But I think the funniest part was Kristen Bell trying to say cheeseburger instead of cheerleader.
I was just watching the 6th (and last) disk of the Veronica Mars DVDs last night and I agree that Joss and Alyson really were the stars of the gag real, but there were some other interesting extras: a day in the life of Kristen and an interview with Rob Thomas. I think the lack of commentaries is really sad, that is always my favorite thing about any DVD set.
I'm waiting for my DVDs to cross the Atlantic - sounds like it'll be worth the wait.
Someone gave me the first two episodes of Veronica Mars, and I liked them well enough. However, I'm following my new strategy - do not buy DVDs or begin watching a TV show until it has been cancelled. Saves on the heartbreak.
I've been told (by someone who does not have a Whedonesque membership) that Rob Thomas has done commentary for the DVDs at his site, in fact the pilot episode commentary is here:
It's unfortunate that the dvds do not contain commentaries but they have to do that to be able to release them so quickly. My hope is that when the show is released on HD DVD and/or Blue Ray, they will include commentaries and maybe some of the things that the fans have been doing to support the show.

From talking with a few of the guys from the show, they all seem to think that season 3 is going to really be great, maybe the best so far. They are pretty confident that this may be the year that the ratings finally catch up to where they should be. I think the new show format will help with getting new viewers involved. Another Joss appearance wouldn't hurt either :)
There was a thing in my boxset of upcoming seasons, and the last two pages talked about HD DVD TV boxsets, and it mentioned Smallville and The West Wing. I think they'll be coming for HD DVD if they're from Warner Bros.

Here is the link to the site mentioned in the boxset insert.
I'm glad to see VM get the praise it deserves as it's certainly one of the best shows currently on TV. But the Buffy comparisons make me squirm a bit, because it's different from BtVS in so many ways, the primary one being that it focuses way more on plot than on characters. I think VM does have much tighter plots than BtVS ever did, but from a character standpoint (which is much more important to me) we have an entirely different story. I'll leave my problems with VM for another post though. It's a good show in its own right and deserves all the positive attention it gets, although I could do without the constant "this is the upgraded version of BtVS" comments.
Well, mine needs to come in the mail TODAY! I've hooked my office mates, and they all want to watch my season 2 before season 3 starts :)
Does anyone know when Series 1 and 2 will released in the UK/Ireland?

Also, this is the only thing I've found to satisfy my good TV cravings since Buffy. I've enjoyed a lot of shows but I LOVE BTVS and VM.
The US season 1 DVD set is labelled as region 1 (of course) but in fact it's coded as region 0 (i.e. plays anywhere), and it plays just fine in the region 2 DVD-ROM drive on my computer.
Some general spoilers if you haven't watched season 1.

I think the shows are similar but not in the way that it is sometimes represented in articles and on the web.

For me, I find a familiarity between Buffy and Veronica. Sometimes Kristen Bell will say a particular line and it actually sounds to me exactly like something that Buffy would have said.

Also, I find some similarities between Buffy/Angel and Veronica/Duncan. I tihnk Veronica always felt like Duncan was the one she was supposed to end up with. Buffy seemed destined to be with Angel. In each case there was a petential showstopper keeping them from getting together. At the same time Buffy/Spike seems very much like Veronica/Logan. As fans, most of use rooted for these two relationships. Also, both female leads had self doubt about why they were in these relationships. Each one also seemed very fragile. Just my thoughts of course.

Rob Thomas also creates wide sweeping character arcs that remind of what Joss has done with so many characters. When I first saw Logan, I thought I am going to hate this guy forever. Can't help but wonder what is in store for Sheriff Lamb. Thomas's treatment of the Lianne Mars story line was really good too. I was surprised by the outcome.

In the end, for me they are both shows about strong female lead characters. They are both very wity with characters that seem to have to go through personal trials and are all the more interesting for it. VM may not be 100% Joss but it is the closest thing out there and succeeds for me on so many levels.
I agree with mikejer.

Veronica Mars is a good show in it's own right, and although some comparisons to Buffy are accurate (rare peek into teen culture hidden underneath a genre show), I think that Buffy is better written.

Veronica is not an upgrade, it is the start of something new and exciting that looks a little like Buffy did in 1998.
Amen, munn75.

I have only recently started watching Veronica, having imported the season one DVD. I've only watched about 5 or 6 episodes but I am very impressed so far. I can understand comparisons to Buffy in terms of quality, the age of the characters and the high school setting, but they are definitely both very different shows.

I think also that since the days when Buffy started, the bar for TV has been raised much higher. I do rate season one of Buffy very highly, but in comparison to most of the later seasons it is weaker, definitely more standalone than focused on season and series-long arcs. Other shows that have been influenced by the success and quality of shows like Buffy (if not the actual material itself) have then been able to have the confidence to create a unique vision right from the start and be able to immerse the audience in long-running arcs, examples including 24, Alias, Lost, Veronica Mars and even Angel and Firefly. If you compare the pilots of any of those shows to Buffy's, even though I rate Buffy as one of the best television shows ever, most of them had really stunning pilots and strong first seasons, and although the first season of Buffy was good I don't think it was as good as some others have been.

So I think VM has a little bit of an advantage in that respect, simply because it's coming along at a later time and can afford to be more original and unique. I'm really enjoying it so far and will probably get the season two DVD when I've watched all of season one.

I am quite disappointed at the lack of special features though. Surely it would make sense for them to plan special features during the season in order to ensure the DVD can still be released early but with more features. Other shows have managed this- such as Lost and 24, although perhaps they have much larger budgets in order to do so. Hopefully if the show continues and gains popularity we will see the number of audio commentaries and featurettes increase with each season. Or they will eventually release a series boxset with commentaries for older seasons.
Dear Joss,

I want to thank you for turning me on to this fabulous show. I love the characters and mini-mysteries and show arcs. As a Daddy's girl, I love the relationship between Veronica and Keith. The bad girl in me follows Logan's every move, and can't wait to see what he does next...
...which brings me to my one complaint: Joss, honey, you've steered me correctly again, but next time that you choose a show, can you please choose one on a channel that I can actually get? I won't relate the lengths that I went to to get to see what little I have of season two (although there's a guy at who may never work in customer service again); suffice to say, if VM was a flavor at the local coffee shop, I'd go broke buying it five times a day.
Thank you, Joss. I still love you despite that little setback.

Yours, from Texas, Charliegirl
Hey, the quality of S1 is debatable (I still love to watch it), but I'll hold up Buffy's pilot (Welcome to the Hellmouth and Harvest), up against any other today. It was fantastic. Truly a mini-movie. With classic scenes and intros. And it kicked off what the series was gonna be.
Well, I understand the comparison...sort of.
I think probably if Buffy and Veronica had met they'd like each other a lot. Not to mention they'd have some awesome dialogue!!
They are both strong young women...who aren't afraid to kick a little butt! But more importantly, I think that they are both, in the middle of all the craziness, trying to figure out who they are as young women.
There are obvious demons in Veronica...unless you count Aaron No slayer strength. And she hasn't come back from the dead..yet! Give her time!
Interesting that Moody claims Rob Thomas cited the influence of Buffy on VM. I could swear I read an interview with Thomas where he says he'd never seen Buffy when he created the series. But maybe he means the general influence of Buffy on television that made a smart, funny, demanding show about a tough high school girl possible.

I also agree with mikejer. VM is very well-written, very absorbing, but it doesn't reach as deep a place as Buffy and AtS did. And, I think that is because it isn't as much about the people and the relationships. Whedon shows are all about the group dynamics. VM, even though she has her friends, is in a lot of ways, much more isolated. Her relationships are one on one, not as part of a support network, like the Scoobies. There isn't the same sense of a community of people working together.

munn75, I'd also noticed the Angel/Spike, Duncan/Logan parallels and had been surprised nobody else commented on them. They go deeper. (Spoilers ahead).

One difference however, is that while I remain convinced that Buffy and Angel are true soul-mates (at least during those periods in which he has a soul), and ultimately belong together, I think Logan is a much better match for Veronica, assuming that he manages to somehow avoid becoming psychotic himself in the aftermath
barboo, excellent points. I would agree with each.

I think another similarity between the shows is an excellent use of sarcasm or snark. Not just from the lead character either. I see similarities here again betweeb Spike & Logan.

I also agree that Buffy as well as Angel had more of a team feel to Veronica's one on one ralationships. I give Rob Thomas a lot of credit as he has me rooting for certain characters to work together and share screen time. Every time I see Logan and Weevil working together it brings a smile to my face. Also Logan and Wallace. I can't wait to see some of the interaction between Logan and Keith next year.

Rob also seems to put characters through a lot. Wallace had to deal with some major issues last year. As did Mac and Dick. I can wait to see how Mac and Dick deal with things this year.

Buffy gets lots of points for paving the way for all of these shows. What I like about Veronica that makes it different, not necessarily better is the mystery element. I think action and slayage has been substituted for mystery and noir. Both shows excel at manifesting the good and evil of the world into either demons or high school students. Both seem to be under the radar of the Emmys. Both are shows that I will show my four year old daughter when she is older as they are both excellent examples of a strong female character.
Honestly I think the relationships in Buffy and Angel, while fun and great, are a bit idealized at times. How many people actually have a solid team of "chosen family" supporting them all the time? It's a fantasy that many people have (hence the success of shows like "Friends"), but a reality for very, very few. I think Joss attacked that fantasy in the later seasons of both shows, and to me it says something that the moment the fantasy was attacked, it fell apart. Because it simply wasn't durable enough to withstand an onslaught of any kind.

The relationships in Veronica Mars are, to me, more gritty and interesting (except Wallace, who is cute but I can take or leave him). The interplay between Logan and Veronica, Logan and Weevil, Veronica and Weevil, Veronica and her father, Veronica and Sheriff Lamb, Enrico and Sheriff Lamb...all complex. And I'm sure I left some out.

That is NOT to say I think VM is the better show, and I enjoy the Scooby Gang as much as anyone. I just don't think it's accurate to say that Buffy explores relationships on a deeper level simply because Buffy has more friends.
I wouldn't say their relationships fell apart. They went through ebbs and flows, as all long-standing relationships of any kind do, but ultimately came out of it together.

But Buffy does explore relationships better, yes it does. Not because Buffy has more friends, but because the focus of the show IS exploring relationships with everything else as a backdrop. VM's noir mysteries are the focus, with its characters simply cogs. And while characters do have depth, their relationships aren't ever really delved into.

Keith and Veronica had what could have been a major, interesting conflict, where he told her he could no longer trust her, which should have had major ramifications, and changed their relationship. But nothing came of it, because the needs of the plot dictated otherwise.

It was the same kind of deal with Veronica and Wallace, where they had a major blow up, he leaves town, and when he comes back, it's more or less business as usual. Lamb has yet to show any real depth besides being a prick, and his relationship with Veronica and Keith hasn't progressed, because it's always necessary for him to be the antagonist, even when he knows they're right.

And it sounds like I'm knocking the show, but I'm not. It has a different agenda, and that's fine. I'm just illustrating my point. Now, come Season 3, with the new format, things may change, I don't know.
Agreed pat32082, I think there're always inherent limits on how much character development you see in noir/mysteries since plot is so important to those types of story and I don't expect to see huge changes there.

(and in noir particularly new aspects of character can be revealed - and are all the time since part of the convention is for people not to be who they seem to be - but the gritty cynicism of the genre sort of precludes the redemptive character arcs which were done to such great effect in Buffy/Angel)

I do think VM's season 3 mini-arc idea is a good one though even if i'll miss the fantastic interweaving overarching mysteries that we saw previously (especially in season 1) and if characters don't change a huge amount, for me, when they're so well written and acted it's not a big problem.
I came along very late to this, and I think there are some great points made in this thread. Basically: I agree there are strong parallels, but that each show is very individual, and can be enjoyed for its own merits. Looking forward to S3 of VM! :-)
pat32082, you nailed exactly how I feel about VM. I often see on VM something huge happen to a character at the end of an episode, only for the next episode to act like it never happened, from an emotional standpoint. The writers seem fixated on the plot rather than, as Joss puts it, emotional resonance. I'm afraid I feel no emotional resonance with VM, and it's the main reason I don't love the show. I do like it though. It's got smart plots, great writing, and it's semi-frequently witty (although not even remotely close to the extent of the Whedon shows). I enjoy VM, but right now I don't love it. Even so, it's still a top TV show right now and I'm very much looking forward to S3. Plus, Logan's just a joy to watch.

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