Friday, March 21, 2014

Veronica Mars

A fandom was born in me during the early days of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I stuck with that show though the tough days (season 4) and the good days (all the other seasons). I laughed and cried, sometimes simultaneously. When Buffy ended, a hole was left in my heart. I even tried watching the last couple seasons of Angel to capture that same magic and it just never felt the same.

Veronica Mars debuted a whole year after Buffy ended. Until then, I never paid much attention to anything else on UPN until I heard about this new show. I specifically remember one review describing it as “Buffy meets Nancy Drew.” I was instantly intrigued. Another review said Veronica Mars is Angelina Jolie in high school. I’m not exactly sure what that meant. I caught one of the first episodes and despite the fact that Paris Hilton was a main character, I kept watching.

I fell in love with Veronica’s acerbic humor and snarky retorts. She was incredibly independent and strong, yet very flawed. I guess in a way I related to her alienation and determination. Veronica and I both struggled with our own personal demons while managing to keep a straight face.

After those first few episodes, I was enthralled. I even got Chad watching Veronica Mars. We often went to the weekly screenings they did at the Alamo Drafthouse Village. It was such a fun show, but I had a sinking feeling with most things I love getting cancelled. I knew it was a niche audience and I could never imagine the same people watching Lost or Two and a Half Men actually getting Veronica Mars. We had three glorious seasons. I loved the idea of Veronica going to the FBI which was the direction she would have taken. Besides Buffy and Veronica, my biggest role model is Clarice Starling. To see Veronica step into that role as an agent was so exciting.

Fast forward to 2013:

I’ve never pledged to any kickstarter campaign. In fact, I often mocked it for many of the less than reputable projects floating around. However, that afternoon when I saw that the campaign went live, I did not make a second thought. When I pledged, the campaign had not even reached a million yet. I still couldn’t believe it was actually happening. I had no idea there was so much interest in a little show I loved several years ago.

One of the best experiences was getting to attend the kickstarter party here in Austin. Rob Thomas was absolutely beaming (he might have been a little tipsy too) from ear to ear greeting all the people who came out on such short notice. As a surprise, Rob flew out Jason Dohring as a special guest. The entire place was screaming with delight, myself included. I even got to meet the infamous Logan Echolls!

Fast forward to 2014:

The film was shot in less than a month. I admit I had concerns about it flowing with the show. In the end, I knew that no matter what, it would be something special for me and the other fans to enjoy.

The film starts as a recap of the initial three seasons. It gives you a background of who Veronica is and what Neptune is like. This makes it much easier for those who have never seen the show. There are tons of references that only fans will get and there are also tons of other pop culture references. Piz makes a Buffy reference that warmed my heart so much because it really brought together two things I truly love. I loved the film and I think as a stand alone feature, it holds up. As a climax to a long journey it is bittersweet. There’s several open ended questions left for us viewers. I love that Rob Thomas is writing a series of books about Veronica. VM lives on in the same way Buffy lives on through comic books.

Things I LoVe'd:

I love the grown up versions of all the characters. Their prospective jobs are very fitting. I love the exchange with Deputy Leo and Veronica. With the exception of Logan, Leo was my favorite love interest. I just really love the script that Rob Thomas put together. It reminded me of all the things I fell in love with about the show. His writing is really good as we witnessed with Party Down another beloved failed show. I loved that Kristen Bell was a little fuller figured having just given birth to her baby girl in real life. It gave VM a more mature look. Twenty-eight year olds should not look the same as they did at eighteen. Yet with her mature self, VM still slipped on that old satchel like a glove. I loved the Celeste Kane cameo that no one saw coming. I also loved the James Franco cameo. Most of all, I loved Dicky Casablancas. He certainly got some of the best lines.

This I did not LoVe:

I was not happy that there was no reference to Backup the dog. Obviously, he would not have survived all those years, but a photo or nod would have been appreciated. I did not like hearing Gia and Cobb doing it. Yuck! I wasn’t that crazy about the Justin Long cameo, but it was befitting that he got the only “fuck off” in the entire film. I did not want to see Weevil get back into his old habits. The whole man in a uniform thing never did it for me so the military storyline with Logan fell flat for me. Don’t get me wrong he looked good, and he does need some sort of structure in his life. I’m just not crazy about the storyline. Although, I cannot think of a better one for him so I guess it works.

Overall, I enjoyed the film. It saddened me a bit to see Piz so brokenhearted, but it’s all about Logan & Veronica. The scene with Keith getting hit by the truck gave me anxiety, but everything worked out in the end. Even if you never watched Veronica Mars, the film is a great watch. If you have seen the show, it’s a beautiful love letter to all the fans. Now if we could just get that Party Down movie made.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

True Detective

As some of you know, I’m not an avid television viewer. No judgment here if you are, I just have difficulties committing to anything. At one time, I was watching four different Law & Order shows throughout the week. Without cable, Tivo, or DVR it’s even more difficult to keep up with TV shows. I decided last year that I would try watching the entire series of Angel. It’s taken me six months to get to season four. I just don’t have the time or patience anymore to keep up with a series. However, I fell hard for True Detective.

I was immediately interested upon hearing the two main characters were being played by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. Could there be a more perfect pairing? I knew I was in for a doozie after the first episode. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the story. I haven’t felt this much affinity and personal investment for a television show since Twin Peaks.


The similarities with Twin Peaks run very deep. They’re both about solving a bizarre murder case. Both have unusual characters that talk in cryptic riddles. Sardonic humor is prevalent in both shows. Both shows center on a mysterious boogeyman; the Yellow King was just as frightening as Bob. Most importantly, both shows have a unique and rich style of writing that culminates into a truly thought provoking show.

While watching True Detective, I constantly searched for clues and re-watched the episodes for answers. I became so focused on the details; I failed to see the bigger picture which is why the finale caught me off guard. Some people were disappointed with the finale. It certainly took my breath away. In a way, I expected a bigger showdown between the Yellow King and Rust, but it would take away from the mystique that character created. The fewer details we know about the Yellow King, the scarier he is. It almost creates a mythological fantasy about him and how he came to be a serial killer.

Towards the end of the series, I was convinced that Rust & Marty would be killed off and they almost were. Then I realized the show was never about a serial killer or satanic ritual, it was about Rust & Marty all along. It was about Marty’s struggle with infidelity and isolation. It was always about the role he played in the lives of the women around him. Notably, the show was also about Rust’s personal conflict with existence and god. The show never felt preachy or self righteous, but it certainly brought new ideas to the table regarding existentialism.

Early on, I read several articles accusing True Detective of misogyny. There were complaints that there were no strong female characters. I feel like this is completely untrue. To dismiss the roles based on gender, you completely undervalue the show. Remember it’s the bigger picture with True Detective. All the female characters were empowered in their own right. Michelle Monaghan was absolutely amazing as Marty's long suffering wife. I never felt sorry for her because she always had the upper hand in the marriage. I suspect Maggie never felt sorry for herself either. I’ve heard lots of rumors swirling around regarding the potential new cast. McConaughey said early in season one that he would not return for a second season. Nic Pizzolatto hinted at a pair of female detectives. Nothing has been confirmed just yet. I’m not sure female detectives will work. I just don’t see two women having the same partnership that Rust & Marty had. That type of organic rapport is not easy to find and the creators certainly have their work cut out for them.

I just really loved how the entire story and the relationships within came full circle at the end. The themes of power and control were so gripping. Kudos to Nic Pizzolatto for pulling a fast one on me. I can only hope that next season is as great. This show will certainly obtain cult status in no time. If you haven't watched True Detective, I cannot recommend it enough. If you have seen it, please feel free to share your ideas.