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November 08 2005

Veronica Mars better than Buffy? An article highlighting the similarities between the two shows and suggesting the Veronica Mars might actually be superior. (BTW: Major spoiler for those who haven't watched VM S1 yet).

I didn't read the article, but can I just say: SIGH. Not this again. I like both. Partially for similiarities, partially for the differences. And that's all I care about.
The main point in the article where they state Veronica might be better then Buffy is because Buffy turns to supernatural mysteries, while Veronica doesn't.

That doesn't make it better, just "different". (and hey, I *like* the supernatural angle, it's smart, perhaps even smarter, in a lot of ways)

Personally I haven't really gotten into Veronica Mars, what I've watched of it hasn't gotten me hooked. I'm not saying that I couldn't catch my interest eventually, just that it hasn't.
Sorry, but no. I watch Veronica Mars and I really like it, but it's no where near the level of Buffy and probably won't ever be. I agree that the shows are extrodinarily different and shouldn't even be held in the same category.

[ edited by MySerenity on 2005-11-09 02:54 ]
This is like comparing "Smallville" to "Angel", Neptune to Sunnydale, or Blade to Sam Spade. Buffy and Veronica are two different types of is connected to the supernatural, the other to the gritty side of life where vampires don't roam. They're both cool blondes to try to make things right.
I love both shows equally, but I think only time will tell which (do we really have to choose?) show is superior. I'll say this, VM's 1st season was tighter than Buffy's 1st. BTVS didn't hit its stride until the second season.
Well, my heart will always be with Buffy. I think VM will have to do something amazing to beat seasons 4, 5, and 6; for me.

But VM is great, and the first season was very strong. I'm less impressed with the second season, but it's just starting, so I'll give it a chance. I think I have an aversion to V/D, so that might be it.
I had difficulty getting into VM last year, and ended up seeing only a handful of episodes. But I decided that I hadn't given it a fair chance -- particularly when Joss raved about it -- so I got hold of the DVDs and had a marathon session this last weekend. I now agree with all the people who said it got better as the season went along, and I can say that I am pretty hooked on it. But, for me, it still doesn't come up to Buffy standards in terms of the writing and some of the acting. I don't think I could watch the episodes dozens of times and still not get tired of them, as is the case with Buffy. Apart from this, I would have to agree that the shows are too dissimilar to compare.
An aversion to V/D? I'm not even going to say anything...
I hate this kind of stuff. Why can't people just be happy with both shows, does it matter which one is "better"? (for the record, it's BtVS, hands down)

I agree that VM's first season probably was a bit "better" than BtVS's, but BS1 was basically made with $3 in someone's garage and only had 12eps to work with as opposed to VM's full 22eps. I am a VM fan but nothing can touch BtVS, nothing. That whole "VM doesn't use supernatural mysteries, BtVS did" is ridiculous. I like the supernatural angle, that is one of the reasons that i like BtVS better. They can do all sorts of craziness on BtVS (and other supernatural shows) that shows rooted in "reality" cannot, and i enjoy the craziness.
Honestly, i didn't watch S1 of VM on tv just because all of the "the new BtVS", "what BtVS could have been", "BtVS, only realistic", etc. It annoyed me and made me resent VM a bit. I gave S1 a chance on DVD and liked it, and i will watch S2 on DVD. I can't watch it when it airs as it is on opposite Lost, and my loyalties are with Lost 100%.

Another thing about VM is that it had that whole "who killed Lily Kane" thing that was its backbone for S1. When shows are so based around one big secret and then the secret is revealed, the eps that dealt heavily with the secret are less rewatchable as you already know and it loses something. BtVS had its Big Bads but it was ALWAYS about the characters first, and the season long plot 2nd.

[ edited by Dhoffryn on 2005-11-09 03:13 ]
After watching season 1 of Veronica Mars on DVD and the first few episodes of Lost: Season Two, I just gave up on Lost. I still watch it when I have the time (I tape the west coast feeds), but Veronica Mars is my priority now.
AAAAUGH! Spoiler! I'm about 2/3 of the way through S1 on DVD, and I just unwittingly found out who killed Lily Kane! It's been so hard to stay away from little spoilers, but this giant one wasn't even labeled. Again I say AAAUGH.
I will say that I thought that Veronica Mars first season was much better than Buffy's first. The second season of Veronica Mars is impressing me as well. I love both shows though, and comparing which is better is kind of weird. It's like trying to compare the new Battlestar Galactica with Firefly and Farscape, they are all Sci-Fi shows but otherwise they're very very different.
Yeah, injust, I empathize as someone who's just watched the first 4 episodes. It was a pretty lazy (and superfluous) line to throw into the article, and it would have been prudent - and nice, - to put a spoiler mention in the link descrip.

OTOH, the Whedonesque rule is that spilling info about shows that have already aired on US TV is not spoiling. Not so cool, but not spoiling. (The Serenity spoilage-free zone still in effect is a special exception to that rule). Again, I empathize. Still, I'll keep watching.

As for the hoary VM > BtVS debate - I'm not going to bother to go there when the article itself doesn't bother to make an actual argument, but appears to use the comparison mainly for shock value in the title . . . The first 4 eps have been fun, slick, and feature good acting, but nothing so special (but, I know I know, it gets better.)
Sorry, injust and SNT, that I forgot to label that the article had spoilers for season 1. I hope you guys can still find the show enjoyable.
I actually think there are a lot of similarities between the two shows, and it's perfectly reasonable to compare them. As to which is better though, I agree that VM season 1 was much tighter than Buffy season 1, but that's about as far as I'll go. And you're right SoddingNancyTribe, there isn't even an argument presented, beyond Buffy=supernatural vs. VM=real world, as if that's somehow relevant. Also:

Another thing about VM is that it had that whole "who killed Lily Kane" thing that was its backbone for S1. When shows are so based around one big secret and then the secret is revealed, the eps that dealt heavily with the secret are less rewatchable as you already know and it loses something. BtVS had its Big Bads but it was ALWAYS about the characters first, and the season long plot 2nd.

You are so right about that. I couldn't get enough the first time through VM, but it loses a lot of luster after everything's been revealed. That's not to say I don't love it, but I can't watch it over and over the way I can with Buffy.
I love Veronica Mars, so I need to read this :P
But I'll save it to my computer to read it later, I'm still watching 1x12 :P So thanks for the warning!
I love Veronica Mars, but Buffy is way better.
As some have mentioned, it's not really fair to compare one season and change of "Veronica" with seven seasons of "Buffy." A better comparison would be the first 27 eps of each series, and I must say -- "Veronica" has the edge. Storywise, it found its footing faster, and I'd say "Veronica"'s cast of characters were more well-rounded, more complex than "Buffy"'s were at the same point. Do I think "Veronica" will prove to be better than "Buffy" over the long haul? Nope. "Buffy" really started to take off in the middle of season two (right around that 27 episode mark, incidentally) and reached absurd levels of greatness for the next four years or so. Can't see "Veronica" keeping up with that. But again -- first 27 vs. first 27, I think I'd go with "Veronica."

[ edited by bobtaylor on 2005-11-09 04:21 ]
The first 4 eps have been fun, slick, and feature good acting, but nothing so special (but, I know I know, it gets better.)

But not so much better that it is as good as Buffy.

In fact, much of the first season of VM was only just bearable (to me) because I was told "it gets better". I would have stopped watching otherwise.

S1 VM is really only mildly diverting television. Season 2 is where it has hit its stride, although it's only 5 episodes in so that might be too early to say as well.
You might be right about the stories and characters over the first 27 episodes (hmm, interesting choice. Not first 24, up until Surprise?), bobtaylor. Even so, as far as the first 4 episodes go, I'd take BtVS over VM on dialogue, wit, and invention. And use of music. And loveableness.
I too get a rash on my eyeballs every time I read about some writer doing a 'versus' between two shows. It's tiring and cheapens both things if you ask me. Plus there is always personal taste as a factor to consider.

Worst though is this nonsensical elitist notion that any supernatural or SF elements instantly makes something 'inferior'. It's ludicrous, this snotty, unfounded idea that has allowed 'straight' fiction to look down on anything that was deemed 'genre' for decades now.

And yes the shows have a lot in common but the genre elements still make it hard to compare. Also, I still say that some of the core elements VM has in common with BtVS are the elements it almost literally lifted from it. "Young blond girl with only one parent has an unusual life at her very clique-y high school, where she often helps and saves people with the help of one or two friends." Gee, which show did I just describe? And if you can't tell, guess what that means?

Hey I do enjoy Veronica Mars, I think it's a better show than most other TV right now and I tune in every week. But it doesn't come close to any of Joss' shows for me personally. Ask me again after 5 seasons I suppose.
One wonders if the writer has ever watched Buffy before writing this proclaiment?

But I do agree with some that S1 of VM has been better than S1 of Buffy. But in general? Only time can tell.
Like I've said before, VM hooked me for the same reasons Buffy did. The wit, humor, sarcasm, snark - fabulous dialogue. For me its all about the words and playing with language. Oh yeah, and the characters and the fabulous actors that portray them. So, in that respect I can see comparisons being made. But, beyond that comparisons are pointless. The two different premises means that they are... well you know, different. I just choose to love them individually.

As far as which one is better, let's see if I'm still talkin' about VM years after the new eps have stopped and if I'm still anxiously obsessing about possible Logan or Wallace tv movies.
I personally think Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Joss Whedon's greatest work. His own mythology, the true story of female empowerment, many extremely unique and dynamic characters, and a lack of predictability. Last nite I saw the first episode of Veronica Mars......i totally knew who was in that hotel room before the thought of "its prolly another guy!" ran through my head. But Mars isn't bad. good righting, good camera work, i'll keep watching because frankly Alias is in a rut and theres nothing else to watch.
I find it amusing that so many people are vehemently opposed to comparing and contrasting these two shows (or any two shows, for that matter). They're TV shows! They aren't your own children! This isn't Sophie's Choice! Hell, half the fun of TV is comparing shows, ranking shows, posing What Ifs, theorizing about storylines that went nowhere, and basically nitpicking the damn things to death because we love them so much. It's all glorious fun, if you ask me.
Whilst it is fun to compare and contrast television shows, I guess my problem with this sort of article comes from the fact that the two shows are in completely different genres. They may address many of the same sort of issues, they may both have a wisecracking blonde protagonist, they may both have that same barbed pop sensibility - however, the similarities, and therefore the basis for comparison, could be considered to stop there. The universes in which the characters reside are so completely disparate that it seems nonsensical to attempt to truly compare the two.

Having said that, it is gratifying to see VM and Buffy spoken about in the same context - because Buffy is such a huge cultural phenomenon, and VM seems to be the most likely television show to even begin to contemplate possibly having the same sort of impact and following that Buffy had (and still has).

[ edited by ZuckerBaby on 2005-11-09 05:49 ]
I love the show Veronica Mars. I began watching VM because of the comparisons to Buffy I kept hearing over the Internet. I Jumped in the middle of season one. I see some similarities with wit and teen angst yada yada. While it took longer to get invested in the characters than it did with Buffy, I am now. The show is one of the best things on TV right now. But no way will this show be better than Buffy in my book. No matter how good the stories are.
" 'Veronica Mars' combines all the genres," he explained. "She's not just mystery-solving gal; she's dealing with the mysteries of the human condition. So it takes what it has, a catchy idea about an empowered and cool outcast girl in high school, and then it digs well below.... The mix of humor and pain and romance is exactly what we tried to do on 'Buffy.' But these guys actually work out complex plots in terms of mysteries, and that takes a knowledge of structure that I cannot claim. So in that way, I'd say it's actually got something 'Buffy' didn't have."

That's a quote from Joss.
I personally love them both. A few weeks ago when I finished VM s1, I was overwhelmed with how much I loved it. Now I'd say it's definately up there with Buffy! To compare, well they both have their merits. We'll have to see what the next few seasons bring us.
That's a quote from Joss.

And he's write in regard to the mystery elements - Buffy's stories were rarely structured like mysteries. There were "cases" to solve but mostly that required finding the right ancient text or the right magic spell. VM's mysteries actually require the characters to think things through - and much of the plot turns on Veronica's ability to think laterally.

I just don't think they've got the right mix of plot and character on VM that Buffy had.
Hell, half the fun of TV is comparing shows, ranking shows, posing What Ifs, theorizing about storylines that went nowhere, and basically nitpicking the damn things to death because we love them so much. It's all glorious fun, if you ask me.

Well comparing them is fun, and discussing those aspects is fun as well. What bugs me, I guess, is the 'declaring a winner of the race' that articles like these put in them. I think there are plenty aspects where one is better and plenty where the other has the edge. And what a person likes more is individual taste anyway. (And declaring winner on something that is nothing more than a genre difference really annoys me.)

Buffy's stories were rarely structured like mysteries. There were "cases" to solve but mostly that required finding the right ancient text or the right magic spell. VM's mysteries actually require the characters to think things through - and much of the plot turns on Veronica's ability to think laterally.

Well, again, that is a genre difference, not a 'minus' of BtVS. I don't complain that in Lord of the Rings there's not enough detective work. Or that Shawshank was low on well choreographed fight scenes. Buffy wasn't a detective show so why should there be sleuth-y mysteries?

I can see how Joss admires it though since it's by his own admission less of a strong suit for him as a writer, and we always admire what others do better than we ourselves.

I do like the cases on Vm, but I wish they were more structured in a way that the audience can figure things out too. Most of the time, there's some clue that falls out of the sky or that only Veronica saw (and not us) so there's not always a chance for that, which is a pity. But there's some really clever stuff in there, and in a character comparison, Veronica is definitely a lot smarter than the Buffster! And something I love about VM is that she's actually....well, a bit of a 'darker' gal than Buffy! She's sneaky and can be vindictive as hell, which I love. Cordy would've had a much harder time with Veronica I think, cuz Veronica would've messed her up good...;-)

But I think BtVS, *because* of those supernatural elements working as metaphors, was better at striking a deeper emotional chord overall. And it was better as an ensemble show. Veronica, her dad and Logan are well fleshed out, but most other characters still feel too under-developed to me.

Oh and VM definitely has good dialogue but to me, Joss is still undefeated champeen there.
Veronica is definitely a lot smarter than the Buffster!

Probably a little better at thinking outside the box (actually a lot better at that), but I wouldn't say she's fantastically smarter than Buffy overall. Buffy always liked to play the dumb blonde, but she could've been a star student if she didn't have to skip classes to save the world. I think a lot of people underestimate her because she spent so much time hanging out with geniuses like Willow, Giles, and Oz.
Buffy doesn't smile as much as Veronica and her hair is better. Ummmm that's all I got.
[I've read the article now, and see what the others are saying. I stick by my comments. I also agree though that the title is just your standard troll headline to get people to read your stuff.]

VM is the only show I watch now, and I have to say that everything that has been said about the shows' differences is true, but as ED said those differences don't necessarily have to be viewed as either a plus or a minus. For example, I prefer the humor in BtVS because of its sometimes Simpsonsesque style. A lot of that is owed to the supernatural elements in the show.

In art I feel that the ends justify the means. If you can use portals, demons, or spaceships as tools to make the audience feel the emotions of the characters, or make them laugh then I think you've created a successful piece of fiction. Just because those who have come before often use those elements to create stories with cardboard characters doen't mean that the tools themselves are broken.

On the subject of keeping it real, I must admit that VM is the best show I've seen with regard to making the computer interaction sequences semi-realistic. When custom apps have to be made they look pretty convincing, and they also use existing apps when available. The argument about Ubuntu's "uglified" fonts made me giddy with geeky excitement (though as a user of X from the 90s I must say that these kids have it soft if they think that Warty has ugly fonts)

[ edited by Caleb on 2005-11-09 10:05 ]

They're tonally similar and are both well written, but for me the simlarities end there.

I'm so disappointed by how some people can be short sighted. I don't knowwhy people just get disdainful, when we get into shows that deal with supernatural things, like just because they're not real in a day to day basis, it means they're not good. Suffice tp say, implying that procedure dramas, lawyer or hospital dramas are better, reflect more realistic things, thus they're better. Forgetting that like Buffy, some shows that deal with supernatural things, can be more real than some "realistic show", but in a whole different level.
I just finished episode1.8 of VM last night - I am watching it purely on the recommendation of that Josh guy - and to catch guest appearances of BtVS alumni.

I would say it is enjoyable thus far, but hasn't gripped me like any of Whedon shows. I was three episodes in before I realised that Troy/Logan/Duncan were all different lads - they all looked the same to me and I couldn't keep track. (Must pay attention).
While I'm happy with VM, it doesn't even approach the enjoyment and fulfilment that BtVS gave me. It's difficult to point at the exact reason, but they aren't the same shows. With much hindsight, I liked how Joss really involved ALL the characters in the story. To each, they had an unique tale of their own. For example, I was completely taken in with the story of Willow. Such a complex experience. Other fans have told me their take on this subject and I find their thoughts wonderful. Can the same be said about the side characters of VM?
I actually don't find the two shows similar at all. Both feature kick-ass blondes (though frankly, Buffy didn't really start out as a blonde) in high school saving the world. But tonally and subject matter-wise, they're totally different. Buffy was fantastical, not overly plot-obsessed and loved to use metaphors to explore the human condition. VM is a tightly plotted mystery show with the emphasis on reality -- it's been called a high school noir, which I see. I really enjoy VM, and think it's one of the best things on TV right now, but I can't foresee it approaching the heights BtVS could reach. I do love the tighter plotting on VM, and find it really good entertainment, but not reaching into the realm of art. I've been rewatching some episodes, and while fun, I'm getting nothing new or exciting when I rewatch. While I get something new, some new emotion or realization or nuance of character, each time I rewatch classic BtVS. Or Firefly. All the charms of VM are on the surface, while BtVS has gorgeous and complicated layers.

I truly think 100 years from now, BtVS will be remembered as a piece of art.
I was three episodes in before I realised that Troy/Logan/Duncan were all different lads

LMAO!! We have that often with WB shows(I know VM is UPN). And yeah, the first few epis of VM we were going, "Uh, which one is he? Is that the ex-boyfriend or the best friend's boyfriend, or the other guy?"

Sad to say, all those young, smooth boys tend to blend in for me. I'd be having much trouble if I watched shows like The OC or Everwood or Supernatural or OTH. I think I'd forever be getting the boys mixed up!
Seriously, it took a whole season to distinguish between those three. And sometimes it still confuses me. Bland, bland and bland.
I couldn't agree more on the blandness of the "young, smooth boys" in VM. They are the weakest element of the show for me. As for the argument that VM is better than Buffy because Veronica doesn't rely on the supernatural to solve her problems, uh, what? How is this a measure of anything? The writer completely misses the point that behind all the hellmouth imagery of BtVS, the problems are very, very real. The supernatural elements in BtVS are METAPHORS for real problems. Uh, people, ever heard of metaphor? It's a super nifty thing, and hey, it requires thinking beyond the obvious. Why is this so difficult for certain reviewers to understand? Oh, wait. I guess not all reviewers out there graduated in the top half of their literature classes.

I agree with those who posit that Buffy will be remembered as art. It possesses gorgeous, deeply analyzable layers that IMO VM simply doesn't, no matter how well and tightly plotted VM is, nor how good the acting of some of VM's principals are, nor how spiffy-jaunty some of its dialogue is. These are all very good things and Rob Thomas has much to be proud of. But he hasn't created anything close to the depths and heights of Buffy.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2005-11-09 18:07 ]
Well, I don't really want to jump into the which-is-better fray here, especially because - as SNT mentioned above that wasn't really the point of this article.
I will say that the comparisons between the two shows annoyed me when they first started last year. I felt like they were based on nothing more than having a smart, resourceful, female heroiine in high school. Since then (and since seeing VM mature as it went on) I think there are quite a few more comparisons than that, and they aren't just the one the author of this article mentions. The biggest, for me, are the blending of genres, the exaggerated nature of high-school pain and angst (since that's what it usually feels like IN high school), the courage to hit some really dark places and not go with the expected, and the use of metaphor (as RT pointed out in another piece, BtVS used high school-as-horror to illuminate things, while VM uses high-school-as-noir to accomplish the same thing.

So yes, in more ways than one, I think VM has earned that "new Buffy" moniker that everyone insists on using. It's easily my new favorite show, and I can't wait to see it from week to week. It definitely hasn't hit the Buffy-inspired love for me yet, but I don't know if Buffy would have either after just Season 1. For now, I tend to agree with phleb above, that while VM is incredibly tightly plotted and well-acted and well-written, it hasn't yet hit those same highs or lows, or the layers, or just the identifiable, must-watch-episodes-over-and-over quality of Buffy. I did buy the DVDs, but I don't think I'll watch eps multiple multiple times the way I do with my buffy ones. Still, it's an excellent start, and it could still get to those places, or at least approach them. And, it's such a personal thing. My love for Buffy isn't always logical. There are shows (The Wire, for instance) that I actually think, analytically, are better shows, but I'll never love them as much as I do Buffy. So, not really a fair contest :-)

(I just realized that, after saying i wasn't going to jump into the which-is-better fray, I did. oh well. Hard to avoid, with the thread subject, I suppose...)
As annoying as it is for the people who were spoiled, I don't think the season is totally ruined by knowing who killed Lilly. There are still some other mysteries to be solved.

I did not see the most of the beginning of season 1. Is that why I have no idea who Troy is? I never got Duncan and Logan confused on VM, though I agree on it being easy to get the bland young boys, and girls, on many shows confused. That was one of my problems on Point Pleasant, if I recall correctly. I couldn't keep any of them straight because everybody looked least I think it was Point Pleasant...
It's Troy and Duncan who look alike to me; Logan is distinguishable on account of being taller and having that "I'm a teenage psycho" leer on his face (at least in eps one through four).
Seriously, it took a whole season to distinguish between those three. And sometimes it still confuses me. Bland, bland and bland.

Really, Caroline? Heh.

Me, I have no problems in that respect. Frankly, Logan is just about the best thing in VM apart from Veronica (and maybe her dad). Totally distinguishable, and not bland at all.

While I agree that comparisons and 'which show is better' type discussions are slightly pointless, I also have to say that I enjoy Buffy more. But that's also because I was right there in the middle of the fandom.

I've rewatched, discussed and analysed every episode, know who wrote what, learned how to recognise their styles, know whole heaps about the actors, the way episodes are made, the mythology of the show, the different layers...pretty much like everyone here, I'd wager. Veronica Mars on the other hand, I 'just' watch. I've discussed some episodes, but never truly indepth. So I guess that's always gonna have me preferring Buffy, regardless of which is actually better. Just because I understand more of the complexities and things going on beneath the surface. And also because I was always way more in love with the Buffyverse characters than the VM ones, which is probably just a personal thing.

Still, I'm loving VM, it's probably my favorite show on right now (together with BSG), with Lost a close second. And I can't wait to see tonight's ep (it'll probably be tomorrow for me ;-)).

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