Veronica Mars: Pilot   Rewatch 
September 18, 2017 10:34 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Introductions all around! Veronica Mars is a junior at Neptune High, formerly popular with the rich kids, now an outcast. Her best friend was killed, her boyfriend dumped her, she was roofied. Her father used to be Sheriff, but now he's a private eye, and Veronica helps him while solving her own high-school drama mysteries. This week's episode introduces Wallace, a new student at Neptune who is targeted by the local biker gang. Veronica Mars was first broadcast in 2004, just after Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended, and in a lot of ways it directly took up the mantle of kick-ass blonde high school girl empowerment. Never a ratings success, it was a critical darling from the start.

Go90 stream. Wiki. AV Club.

One of the things that struck me about the show is the integration of cell phones. This seems among the first shows where all characters are always reachable, making a lot of traditional plots impossible.

Class and privilege are always an issue on this show, but this episode doesn't exactly have a deft hand with race: Eli and the PCH gang are stereotyped Hispanic bad dudes. Wallace comes off a bit bland good-guy, and the image of him taped to a pole seems maybe more violent and violating than it did 13 years ago.

The season-arc mystery is info dumped here, but I thought it was intriguing enough to keep me watching. It took a couple more episodes to sell me on the genius of the show, but considering how hard TV pilots are, this one is solid.
posted by rikschell (15 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Buffy - horror + noir = Veronica Mars.

Great show.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:36 AM on September 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

the image of him taped to a pole seems maybe more violent and violating than it did 13 years ago.

Actually, one of the things that impressed me about VM was how many times it set up situations like this, and instead of the victims getting some sort of upper hand, they just had to slink away and try to live with it. Veronica herself was roofied and raped, and this was thought uproariously funny by most of her peers. She turns herself into a very hard lady because of this. I thought it was pretty realistic.
posted by ubiquity at 1:05 PM on September 18, 2017 [10 favorites]

and this was thought uproariously funny by most of her peers

This is what ultimately killed my interest in this show. Pretty much everyone except for Veronica and her dad are so cartoonishly cruel to each other that it was just draining to watch. Like, I know that people, especially high-schoolers, can be that cruel, and often are, but here it seemed like everyone was cruel, all the time, for no real reason.

Which is how noir films see the world too, I suppose, but still.
posted by JDHarper at 5:48 PM on September 18, 2017

"You want to know how I lost my virginity? So do I."

That line has stuck with me for over a decade.

Is there any way to find the old Television Without Pity recaps?
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:56 PM on September 18, 2017 [10 favorites]

JDHarper Not sure when you stopped watching, but this doesn't end up being the case. Yes, almost everyone outside of the main cast are cruel but a lot of the other characters are just as good/sweet/flawed as Veronica and Keith.

I also feel like we see most of these people through the eyes of Veronica and we know how she feels and what she thinks of them, which warps what the people around her seem like.

I thought this was a really strong episode for a pilot. It still took about half a season to completely lock me in but the set-up in this episode really worked for me. I was also probably in the demographic it was targeting at the time. On rewatches, I realise just how flawed Veronica is/was but as a teenager in the last years of high school, I downright envied her ability to deal with the schoolyard bullies and taunts.
posted by liquorice at 9:29 PM on September 18, 2017

This is an excellent time to recommend Mark Oshiro's Veronica Mars reviews.
posted by Pendragon at 1:46 AM on September 19, 2017

roger ackroyd: you're in luck...
posted by web-goddess at 4:50 AM on September 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

The original recapper from TWoP John Ramos and founder Sarah Bunting have a podcast where they're rewatching Veronica Mars: Go Pirates. It's a lot of fun. If you liked the recaps, the podcast is a bit rambly in the same manner and really funny. It's a fun way to revisit the show.
posted by Aquifer at 6:14 AM on September 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

One of the things that struck me about the show is the integration of cell phones. This seems among the first shows where all characters are always reachable, making a lot of traditional plots impossible.
Not just cellphones, either.. Veronica researches effectively in online databases, makes use of cameras and other recording technologies, is skilled at using graphic design and desktop publishing software to make fake I.D.s and forge documents.. She's adept at "social engineering." Tech is a major driver of the local economy in general and is the source of the Kane fortune specifically. Episode plots revolve around student-published blogs and social networking..

And while some license is taken, by and large the use of tech is far more realistic and believable than in other television shows (which, granted, is not a very high bar..)
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:09 AM on September 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

The disparity between the rich and the not-rich, I felt, was handled really well. The bit that stuck with me was that even the "biker gang" were (essentially) all rich kids.

Another thing that jumped out was that Keith Mars isn't a stereotypical single dad; sure he has his faults and weaknesses but he obviously loves Veronica and is, at the very least, a competent dad.
posted by porpoise at 6:53 PM on September 26, 2017

What's a stereotypical single dad?
posted by ODiV at 7:00 PM on September 26, 2017

Whoops, nevermind the bikers = rich.

Stereotypicaly single TV dad (sorry); bumbling, doesn't understand their kid(s)(') feelings, completely out of touch, indimidated by a daughter being female, maybe alcohol abuse.

Keith isn't perfect, but at least he talks with his daughter.
posted by porpoise at 7:10 PM on September 26, 2017

Ah, yeah the bumbling and awkwardness around feelings (and daughters) for sure as that's great sitcom fodder. I guess I thought that while the dads played by Bob Saget, Andy Griffith, Tony Danza, etc would come across as overwhelmed sometimes, they weren't shown as incompetent. It seemed to me like shows usually overcompensated and made the dads more sympathetic than married dads and for sure absent dads.

Then again TV has gotten kind of fractured so my image of TV single dads is not necessarily the same as everyone else's.
posted by ODiV at 7:31 PM on September 26, 2017

Their relationship is one of the best aspects of the entire series.
posted by liquorice at 7:37 PM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was imprecise with my thoughts and language, perhaps "irresponsible" is a big factor in my own siloized view of TV dads. Then there's the stereotype in the opposite direction, like the movie Contact's single dad who was portrayed as almost superhuman (wasn't immortal enough, I guess, but in a way he is, so straight up superhuman), enough so that an ethically and technologically superior alien race chose to represent themselves through him. Keith is definitely not that.

Thanks, liquorice. I remember during my first watch that I envied some aspects of their relationship and wished that I had a better one with my own parents.
posted by porpoise at 8:00 PM on September 26, 2017

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