Remember when there were four major TV stations? When the fifth emerged in the late 90s, the WB made its calling card dramas full of angst ridden teens. Dawson Leery and Felicity Porter. UPN never stood a chance, but when it merged with WB to form the CW, the one show that made the new station stand out was "Veronica Mars."
Snarky, brilliant and jaded, Veronica was the anti-Mary Camden. A girl whose family didn’t have a mysterious source of wealth or who lived oddly outside their means. High school issues were not resolved in thirty minutes and girls didn’t choose “the right guy.” There were sex tapes and gay couples and class warfare.
And then, it just ended. There was no cliffhanger, no resolution, just a number of unanswered questions and a lot of disappointed fans. Perhaps if Twitter had been older, things would have been different. But even thousands of Mars bars and marshmallows sent to the powers that be didn’t save it, and articles mourning the death of the only strong female teenager left on TV had little effect.
Atleast a pitch for a fourth season that eventually made its way to YouTube gave us a bit of resolution. Veronica had made it to FBI and was still “her.” And in years to come, we’d finally get more strong, young females on TV. And like so many shows that died in the late 2000s, the stars and directors promised a possible eventual movie. Some real resolution.
I don’t know about you, but I’m still waiting around for the "Friday Night Lights" movie; those final four words of Amy Sherman Palladino’s coming out of the mouth of Lorelai Gilmore.
The team behind the "Veronica Mars" movie did everything right: the amazing video that reminded us why we loved the characters. Focusing on the backers. And if you backed it, like I did, we’ve been getting almost daily updates since last year -- writing, filming, hell, I got updates about music scores. So many updates, to be honest I stopped reading them all.
But I think we can all admit: Friday night was pretty sweet.
Veronica Mars the Movie did a lot right. We saw ALL the characters we wanted. Even Celeste Kane makes a cameo. As a Duncan fan, I did always want to know what had happened to him, so a tip of the hat would have been nice. But I thought the movie did a great job of serving those of us who watched the show, and those people who have somehow avoided the DVDs (if you’re one of them, GO WATCH). While 2 hours can’t give us everything we want (more about Mac and Wallace’s lives, rather than just how they serve Veronica’s plot), it gave us a lot.
Veronica is in New York, and after a college sex tape scandal, transferred to Stanford, buried her PI past and got degrees in psychology and law. We see her interviewing at a top NYC firm and then meeting her BOYFRIEND PIZ (we all knew it from the news, but still…) where he works at "This American Life." Piz was always cool, he just wasn’t exciting. He was a flannel hoodie. It would have been nice to know more about how he and Veronica found their way back to each other, how their relationship “happened” as we see it in modern time. Its hard to understand how Veronica shed her entire past except for Piz.
Its also hard to understand how Mac has stayed in Neptune, instead of being part of the startup scene we expected of her, or working at some great place in San Francisco or the Valley. Its not explained well how she’s come to remain in Neptune (she worked for Sun Microsystems but now works for Kane Software? Yeah-no).
Wallace and Mac are clearly close, but its not explained or even explored if they’re together. Wallace has always been a great platonic friend to Veronica, but Mac too?
For me, the most fascinating part was remembering how big a role Neptune itself played in the show -- the class wars. It was a character I hadn’t remembered, and the writing does a fabulous job of contemporizing the issue: Tte 09er club, the police brutality, the downtown lofts.
Veronica returns to Neptune for Logan, who has grown up and joined the Navy (and by the way, despite repeated mentions in the movie of how awesome he looks in dress whites, Jason Dohring should never, ever wear a hat). Echolls has been dating some character from Neptune High no one remembers and despite being a pop star, somehow still resides in Neptune.
And as soon as she does, it's inevitable. Because its Logan and Veronica.
Except it's NOT.
The most precious scene in the entire movie is the gang, at a reunion after party, dancing and drinking and having fun. Where we realize that just as Logan is no longer high school Logan, Piz is no longer Neptune Piz. He’s confident and cool and self assured in a way he was not before. So confident and cool he rightfully dumps Veronica’s ass via cell when her laissez faire attitude towards him, the new job and NYC pushes him away. I nodded my head when he did it.
In some short order, the murder is solved in classic Veronica style, along the way treating us to time with Leo, seeing Weevil change his life (he was always my favorite) and catching up with Vinnie Van Lowe.
But the strong character we loved on the show is gone, I’m afraid, replaced with a girl who lets things happen instead of confronting them. Who, in 10 years out in the whole wide world can only find herself with two men from high school? (Lady, take some time alone for a bit, ya know?) Who gives it all up for a guy?
I won’t spoil the ending because of course, you already know the ending. You knew it before you cued up the movie. But when the movie ended and the credits rolled, I felt as unresolved as I did when I watched Veronica stroll into the rain in 2007 while “It never rains in California” played her out.
There’s talk of a second movie, and for damn sure I’d watch it and fund it. But if there is, I want Piz back. And our leading lady’s spine.