Christmas 2005 will forever be in my Great Lakes of Christmases. Mt. Rushmore lists are done to death, so I’m ending it. From now on I rank things by using the Great Lakes. It was not because of what happened or whom I was with, no it was because of three gifts I received. Whom the fuck said it was better to give than receive? A dummy that is who.
December 25, 2005 I received three sets of Season One DVDs that changed my life. One was the first season of Lost, tied with season one of 24 for the most exhilarating season of television ever. I finished it before 2005 was over. Hell, I finished it in three days. It was Christmas break. What else was I going to do? Hang out with my family? Hah.
Another was season one of Arrested Development, the funniest season I had seen at that time. The Pilot episode of Arrested is the single episode that I’ve seen the most in my life. After watching a few episodes, I had to get everyone I knew hooked on the show. I honestly cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen that episode or how many people I’m responsible for turning into a fan of the show. However, I believe that if you followed my Arrested Development family tree it would have enough people to start a small nation.
The first two shows were burned out from going in and out of my DVD player while the third sat on my shelf collecting dust. By awhile, I mean a couple months, cause like all addicts I needed a new TV high. And that was the first season of Veronica Mars. How, why, or even if I asked for it on my Christmas list is beyond me. My TV obsession was still fresh at the time and very limited. I wanted to find a new series to get into and I vaguely remember reading something online about this UPN show being on some “Guilty Pleasures We’re Not Guilty About” list.
How it ended up under my tree doesn’t matter all that is important is the pleasure it has brought me ever since. It only took me one episode to fall madly in love with the show and even deeper for the titular main character played by Kristen Bell. At the time, Lost was a smash hit that I was late to the table for and Arrested was an easy show to share with friends, but VM I kept close to the chest. It was not about being embarrassed about the show, it was more about the personal, intimate connection I felt with it. The show had that indie band feel, where it felt special being one of the few that knew how awesome it was.
But now the secret is out, The Veronica Mars movie arrives in theaters this week thanks to $5.7 million raised on Kickstarter a year ago. A demonstration of how strongly the fans love this show and another example of why the Nielsen Ratings System sucks. Shows like Big Bang Theory, NCIS, and Modern Family are ratings juggernauts, but I would be willing to bet that $5.7 million that none of them would be able to raise more money for a movie. Partly cause most of its fans don’t know how to turn on a computer, let alone find Kickstarter.
There are still a lot of people out there that have yet to experience the joys of watching this show. Veronica is still the best female character in TV history. Rob Thomas, the show’s creator and not the lead singer of Matchbox 20, serves as an example of how to not let the restrictions of broadcast TV, specifically a channel skewed towards high school girls, restrict the creativity of a show. It is so much more than a show about a girl trying to deal with the turmoil of high school. And never falls into the trap of creating drama for drama’s sake, especially with its relationships, as so many teen shows do. Everything that happens within the show’s universe feels organic, natural to its surroundings. This is why the fans connect with it so deeply. Veronica, Keith, Logan, Weevil, Mac, Wallace, and company all feel like real people. People with needs, desires, pain, joy, and flaws.
Thomas never backs away from the characters’ flaws. No one would put Veronica on a list of anti-heroes with the likes of Walter White and Tony Soprano, but she is a flawed hero. She does not trust anyone, lies a lot (even to the people she loves), is controlling, rude, prideful, and at times flat out mean. Most of the time the other person deserves it, but there are times when they do not. The problem is Veronica dives so deep into her hard outer shell as well as the role of private investigator she has a hard time interacting in a normal relationship.
It would’ve been easy to make her a bubbly, spirited Nancy Drew-esque character and play up her cuteness, especially with Bell in the role. It might have attracted more viewers, made it an easier show for people to watch, but the show is not about easy. Just like the classic film noir detective stories that the series pays homage to this show deals with the challenging reality its characters face and never backs away from it.
Tonight I’m going to a screening of the Veronica Mars movie. The excitement kept me up last night and the little sleep I got involved dreaming about seeing this movie. It feels like a reunion with old friends. In a perfect world, this movie is a huge hit, at least in the relative sense, and someone, Netflix or Amazon perhaps, takes note and makes a Godfather offer to reboot the series. As great as this movie is, Veronica and Co. are meant to be savored on the small screen. The intimacy is better felt and the characters are too rich to be given enough in a 90-minute movie.
It might actually be doable. Bell is the biggest star, and really the only thing B-list or above. For awhile I was disappointed in the way her career went. After the show ended I thought she would become the next Meryl Streep and just knock performance after performance out of the park. Instead, she has done mostly silly Rom Coms with a few supporting roles in Indie films. Currently she is on the far inferior House of Lies that somehow keeps getting renewed by Showtime. I’ve come to realize that Bell and Veronica are the perfect mesh of actor and character and that it is the only role that is a home run for her. Bell needs Veronica as much as the fans and if this movie can gather some momentum a series re-boot may get more eyeballs than ever before. It could lead to the audience and accolades the show always deserved.
Sadly, just as the show always pointed out, this is not a perfect world. The series probably will never get a re-boot and the movie may not get many eyeballs beyond the people who paid for it on Kickstarter. Maybe the best that we can ask for is a thrilling, enjoyable movie with the characters we love and a fitting conclusion that we did not fully receive when the show was cancelled in 2007. Also, please let Jason Dohring become a big star after this? Please America? I promise you’ll not be disappointed.
No matter what I have to thank the show for all the joy it has brought me over the past eight years. Oh and of course, Santa Claus for leaving it under the tree for me.