This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Can I make a suggestion that doesn't involve violence, or is this the wrong crowd?"
11973 members | you are not logged in | 09 July 2020


October 03 2006

Tim Goodman compares Buffy and Veronica Mars. He says Buffy is the gold standard.

Goodman is the TV critic for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Wow, that guy's really obsessed with brackets.

Also, I really wish people would stop comparing these two shows, it's really boring and they don't seem that similar to me anyway. Certainly that guy comes up with no similarities that we haven't read dozens of times already. And being a lesser show than Bufffy means what? Nothing. All shows are lesser shows when compared to Buffy!
There are a lot of points of similarity and the comparison is obvious. Veronica Mars is entertaining and relatively intelligent but it doesn't come close to Buffy. One key thing (other than the great point about the help that being a fantasy should provides that Goodman mentioned) is that Veronica Mars, while trading heavy in TV Teen soap storylines (which i love) doesn't go into kind of hyper-infalted melodrama that teens actually live in, which Buffy captured perfectly.

In any case, sorry Joss! But I'm not with you all the way on this one or on Harry Potter.
I love both shows, but Buffy will always be better. He makes some good points, though his past judgements haven't always been kosher. He was the one who said that "Firefly" failed for obvious reasons (the whole western in space angle). I think it's more that people simply didn't know it was on (or if they did, didn't know when it was on, because it kept being preempted and moved) - which I think is the case for VM, too. Also, pitting VM against the likes of "Lost" and "House" didn't do it any favors.
Umm. I'm sorry, but I want to slap this guy in the face.

Seriously, he talks like 'Veronica Mars' was MADE to be the next Buffy, by calling it a "cousin" or a "copy." And that's just downright false. Rob Thomas, the creator of 'Veronia Mars' never even watched Buffy. It was the networks and critics that decided to MARKET the show as the next Buffy when in reality, it has much more of a similarity to 'Angel' than it ever will to 'Buffy'.

I have so much love for both shows but please, can we start judging them as the seperate entities that they really are?

[ edited by zimshan on 2006-10-03 23:14 ]
Goodman seems a tad condescending. I like Veronica Mars a lot, and not only for Bell. It is very much a show with heft. It isn't perfect (what show is?), but there is very little out there that challenges its audience the way that Veronica Mars does.

[ edited by bigsofty on 2006-10-03 23:13 ]
Tim Goodman has always been a huge fan and supporter of the Buffy verse and its actors. Glad to see he's continuing to love the show and to spread the word about it. Who knows, maybe it will bring more viewers and that can't be a bad thing.
What did Buffy used to get compared and contrasted to?
Veronica Mars is Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It irritates me when people compare stuff.

For example: "It's like The O.C. with brains" for Veronica Mars or "It's the new 'Lost'!" for any new show that has come out this season.

It really annoys me. Why does everything have to be compared to something that has already been completed? Try stringing some more words together to form a general plot, rather than such examples as above.

[ edited by Brisco on 2006-10-03 23:29 ]
What zimshan said, exactly. You can come up with similarities between the shows, but it's not really that similar overall for me - a looong way from a copy. Fourth cousin, maybe. It rarely makes me think of Buffy. VM is totally its OWN show, and is lightweight in no way whatsoever.
Veronica Mars at it's best is on par with the best of Buffy, and far more accomplished than everything else out there. I don't think there's any reason or much evidence to claim that VMars is a Buffy clone in any way, shape, or form. On the surface there are a few similarities but they are 2 extremely different shows.
It is impossible to compare ANY show to Buffy. They all come up short. Initially, Veronica Mars did indeed fill my "Buffy void", but now I accept it and love it on its own merits. VM is light years ahead of its demographic colleagues (Smallville, Supernatural, 1TH, OC, etc.)
I tend to agree with him, while it's certainly not a copy, there are definite similarities. Seems like Goodman just isn't as high on Veronica Mars as some folks, probably because the storytelling in the second season dropped off a bit and I can't really blame him for feeling that way.
It is hard to watch any show and not say "It's good but it isn't a Whedon". I find his comparison perfectly legit. You compare everything to what is the best. He's right, it is hard to come second and almost inevitably, second will be considered second class. And since there are some similarities, it is easier to make that comparison.
Then too, there is the matter of personal taste.VM and Buffy may be apples and oranges but they are both fruit and if you want that crunch in your fruit, the juice of the orange is not going to do it for you.
Umm. I'm sorry, but I want to slap this guy in the face.

Make remarks like that again and you will get banned. I am not having people making comments like that here. We're not some pissy little fan boy talkback board. Writers of articles do not get criticised. And after all we are talking about TV shows here, not religion, not politics. At the end of the day Buffy and Veronica Mars are pretty minor things in the grand scheme of it all.
What did Buffy used to get compared and contrasted to?

'Cheers' cos everyone seemed to know Buffy's name.

There are similarities but he kind of loses me by seeming to talk about 'young female protagonist' as a genre and the two shows, therefore, being similar on that level. Buffy was horror fantasy, albeit horror lite in some ways and Veronica Mars is clearly noir or at least hard-boiled detective and those genres are pretty dissimilar (as someone above mentions, genre wise VM is closer to Angel) with very different conventions.

Smart, sassy, good looking (but almost always oblivious to that power)

Veronica has used her looks a few times to crack a case, she's very aware of that particular tool in her arsenal. Buffy, not so much, since I think the idea of a woman having to resort to eye batting to get her way was part of what Joss was trying to subvert. With VM if it works and it's not actively immoral (and that line is often pretty hazy - the moral ambiguity is one reason why it's not like 'Monk') then she's gonna use it, again that's part of the genre convention where pragmatism usually trumps abstract moral reasoning and the hero just does their best to hold onto their own slightly battered ethics in an unethical world.

I think he has a point when he talks about gravitas though. VM has a lot of drama but sometimes it feels a little bit too teen-drama ish to me. It does touch on a lot of universal truths but not as often as Buffy seemed to manage so i'm with the consensus that VM is great TV but not quite as great as Buffy or (for a more appropriate comparison, IMO) Angel were.

Still, I don't think there's necessarily anything inherent in the detective genre to prevent VM from becoming as great as Buffy/Angel were if it gets to run as long (though the previously mentioned emphasis on plot in mysteries does make character moments harder to come by).
I don't read the message board a lot so sorry if this is old news but did y'all know that MSN is offering tonight's episode of Veronica Mars for free? I'm not really sure how to post links, but here is the story on MSN. On the first page, about halfway down, is the link to the show.
I checked the link...

This product requires Microsoftİ Internet Explorer 6, Microsoftİ Media Player 10, and Macromedia Flash 6. To download these free software applications, click the links below and follow the on-screen instructions.

That's rather a lot of prerequisites, I think. Prohibitively so, in my case. Oh, well. I'll see the s3 pilot soon enough...
Let there be link!. The site says you need IE 6+ to watch VM from their site. Looks like I'll be acquiring it through other means.

I'll be interesting to see how VM transfers to college. I thought Buffy's transition out of high school was well done, and the show went along without missing a beat. Hopefully we will be able to say the same about Veronica Mars.

Comparing things can often lead to a better understanding of what something is. Saying that VM is a "noir piece set in a high school" a couple years ago would have meant very little to me, whereas "VM is kinda like Buffy but with supernatural replaced with a detective mystery" would have done the charm. Sure it's cheating a little, but overall it's pretty fair.

[ edited by Caleb on 2006-10-04 02:41 ]
I've been a fan of Tim Goodman's column for a long time. He seems to be a genuine fan of good, smart TV instead of a critic wanking on and on to the beat of a paycheck. For that, I'll always give him the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, I personally agree with his article, though I like VM a bit more than he does. He articulates something I hadn't thought about before -- that Buffy does the teen melodrama well because it's rooted in the unreal but that VM suffers in comparison DUE to its grounding in the real (though noir-ish) world. I think that's really true, despite the writers attempts to make Neptune a shade mythological, there's always the feeling that it's more soap opera than real melodrama. I think it's why I love VM but can never give it the flapping, yelping, fanwanking love that I give to Buffy.

About comparisons and "originality" -- I don't think comparisons are by their natures insulting. Everything is old, nothing is new, yadda yadda yadda. Buffy made heavy use of some worn genre conventions but in a very fresh way. VM does the same, but at this point in time it's just not as fresh anymore. I don't personally care if it's fresh or not; I love the genre-riffing.

I think this the longest post I've ever made to this blog. Like, whoa.
Actually that seems to be a want list of MSN not a need list as I don't have IE6 or Microsoft media player 10, but earlier releases and I saw it fine on Sunday night.
The premiere was absolutely epic.

Pizz needs to relax a teense, however.
I'd have to agree with the notion that anything held against Buffy will undoubtedly come in second. Is it just me or does anyone else think that being Buffy's cousin is quite the accomplishment? That's a pretty nifty compliment, imo.
omg veronica met someone named parker right when she got to college. VM IS TEH NEW BUFFY!!!1

Kidding...I thought that was an interesting parallel, though.
Loved the premiere.

I've often described Veronica Mars as "the show that I love second-best in the world, after Buffy the Vampire Slayer". That's not to say that VM is not as good as Buffy - I think that it is indeed as good as Buffy in terms of writing. It's just that Buffy has had more time to develop mature themes and characters, and Veronica Mars - for goodness' sakes, it's only the first episode of the third season screening tonight! Veronica Mars has only just left high school, and the themes already explored are not typical of those written for a show set in high school. Considering "Welcome to the Hellmouth" up until "Anne", I don't think that it is possible to say that either show is better. Perhaps when VM has hit its 7th season *crosses fingers and toes*, we can start to consider things like overall thematic and character development.

It often annoys me when people compare Veronica Mars to Buffy. I love both insanely, and for mostly-different reasons. Both showcase strong female characters ;). Both start out in high school. Both shows are smartly funny, and both shows have depth. That is all true. Do I think VM could've been as successful without Buffy? No. I think Buffy was groundbreaking. However, whatever success Veronica Mars has today is (IMHO) rightly earned, and it is a show that can stand on its own two feet. I love Buffy and I think Veronica Mars is fracking fantastic. I don't want to compare either, and I think it is not in any way beneficial to either show to continue making such comparisons.
Just off seeing the season opener--
It seems to me less noirish than it's been. More straight sleuthing, less agonizing as the tortured outsider. Which is a good thing. I think the noir was in fact more limiting as a genre than the supernatural and one of the reasons why Buffy is the better show. Buffy, as a character could be anything, and we got a whole gamut from her. Veronica, as originally conceived, was
Humphrey Bogart in the Big Sleep, and while that got the show going dramatically, to have a character her age be that cynical and world-weary over multi-seasons was going to become stale.

So now it's a little less dark - we get Pizz, a bf potential who isn't tortured. And a little more of a group effort - Veronica has her peeps working with her and watching her back, a little more of a scooby gang feel, and that's what's going to make it work, and that is what was so much a part of BtVS and Angel, that I've missed from VM.

I think Goodman is completely off the mark when he says that the show is entirely Kristen Bell's. Yeah, she's good, but I watch it every bit as much for Mac, Logan and Weevil. (And did I mention Logan). In fact, I would watch a show entirely built around Mac. I am glad to see Dick showing some aftermath from last season's events and am looking forward to seeing how that plays out between him and Logan every bit as much as I am with seeing anything that happens with Veronica. Not to mention waiting breathlessly to seeing what happens with Weevil and how that plays out with the various relationships. There's a lot of meat going down with all the characters and I think that's strengthening the show.

And "Pizz" is gotta be the most stupid-ass name I've ever heard for a character (right after "Weevil"). Anyone who can't lose a nickname like "Pizz" when they get to college is missing a few bulbs in the chandelier department. Veronica, you don't want to mess with someone that clueless.
Pizz? As in taking the pizz? Hahaha.
It's Piz, not that that makes it better.
It's Piz, not that that makes it better.

No doubt a homage to the BtVS's pez. Probably. Eh, I'm clutching at straws here.

Though in the next episode, Veronica .
I can't tell if that's a joke or not, Simon.

My girlfriends cat is called Weevil, and that actually put me off the series on first viewing. And kinda the second attempt at watching, too.

So, to summarise, I'm okay with a cat having a name like that, but not a TV character. But then, I remember the Buffy movie - 'Pike'..
First of all, I loved the Veronica Mars 3th season premiere. Writing was top notch, dynamics felt right and Kristen was perfect.

About the article: I don't think comparing Buffy and Veronica is ridiculous. Veronica is a genre/teen show, and Buffy is one of the best in that genre. What is ridiculous is to call Veronica a copy, it are two very different series.

quote I: In "Veronica Mars," Bell plays the title character who, first in high school and this season in college, becomes a crack private investigator and crime solver. Her father is her mentor and rock, her boyfriend loving but flawed, her friends equally fast-talking and hip -- the similarities to Buffy go on and on.

quote II: ''How many times can you find an immensely talented young woman like Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) and now Kristen Bell (Veronica) who is 80 percent of the reason you watch in the first place''

Buffy never became a crack P.I, or crime solver, did she? When, ever, was her father her mentor and rock? Weren't her friends nerdly outcasts? Wasn't Buffy as much about the group as about Sarah? I'm not completely fair, cause I get what the writer is trying to say, and there maybe some similarities in this, but in my opinion, put this way, his points are more like the differances between the shows, than similarities.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2006-10-04 12:29 ]
No doubt a homage to the BtVS's pez. Probably. Eh, I'm clutching at straws here.

Did anyone notice the number of other "Homages" to Buffy in the season opener?

Season 3 Ep 1 Veronica Mars..... Main plot:

Season 4 Ep 1 Buffy..... Main Plot:

In season four of Buffy: Buffy sleeps with Parker and regrets having sex with him as he blow her off the next moning.

In season three of Veronica Mars: Mac's new room mate

I'm wondering how long it will be before

...and does this mean that Mac will have a girlfried by the end of the season? Stay tuned.
I still can't get into Veronica Mars. I tried watching last nights episode but before the opening credits rolled I was irritated by the Veronica character... again. Something about her just bothers me, it's like she's just too cool for skool or something.

I realize everyone is going to jump on me for saying this or explain to me why this show is fantastic but I've tried multiple times and every time I end up irritated instead of entertained.

Kristen Bell made more sense to me a con-woman that got a bullet in the head via Joanie Stubbs. Now that's a good show.
I'm not going to try to explain anything to you, war_machine. Thanks for sharing your views.
It doesn't take a genius to see the similarities between Buffy and VM.

It also doesn't take a genius to see the differences.

So, I'm not sure what the point is of comparing them in terms of quality.

Each show has its strong points (and Buffy, to my mind, has more of them, but that doesn't detract from the quality of VM). (Just as the quality of Deadwood - which is significant - doesn't detract from the quality of VM, or Buffy for that matter.)
Is it OK if I just fall on you war_machine ? Don't really have the energy to jump ;).

(I think the fact you gave it multiple chances speaks volumes. If you're willing to keep an open mind over and over and it still doesn't grab you then it's clearly just not your type of show. Not a thing wrong with that, horses for courses, spice of life, YMMV etc. etc. ;)
"Veronica Mars" ... has many of the hallmarks of "Buffy," but suffers from a kind of version 2.0 downgrade because part of the charm of "Buffy" was its originality, and "Veronica," as smart and sassy as it is, will forever be seen as a cousin, if not a copy.

Agree and disagree here.

Agree that originality was a major source of Buffy's charm. Before Buffy, can you think of anything quite like it? Veronica's charms rest on the strength of the writing and the acting, particularly Bell's, but not so much on the originality of the premise.

Disagree that VM will forever be seen as Buffy's "cousin." I think that's a construct of TV reviewers and the show's marketing. I doubt that ordinary viewers see it that way.
I had wondered whether the article was on-topic for here and almost made it the first topic I'd opened here. Cool though.

I liked the article even if I didn't agree with everything that Goodman said - he's the local TV critic for me, so I do read what he says albeit with an open mind. For good or ill the two shows are going to get compared since they both have strong, spunky, blonde female leads. If TV had more characters like that, there'd be less comparison of these two shows. I don't mind the comparisons, though for those of us whedonites who already like VM, the regularity of the comparisons do get old.
He's still suffering from Buffy Withdrawal Syndrome.

That's all I have to say.
And after all we are talking about TV shows here, not religion, not politics. At the end of the day Buffy and Veronica Mars are pretty minor things in the grand scheme of it all.

I disagree. Art isn't less important than religion or politics.
If there is a Buffy film and Sarah Michelle Gellar doesn´t want in, Kristen Bell will be an excelent Buffy if not better! Sure thing she is cutter!

This thread has been closed for new comments.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.

joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home