I binged on Veronica Mars a few summers ago out of boredom and looking to complete my collection of great high school shows seen, because I love high school shows. My general review of the complete series back then: It has a great first season, but flounders to an uneven and clunky finish by the end, despite it’s great characters. It’s hard when you introduce such an engaging mystery (the murder of Lily Kane, as well as Veronica’s rape), then conclude it by first season’s end, expecting to reproduce the magic in subsequent seasons with a new mystery. But I was still curious to see what Rob Thomas would do if he had the chance to revive the series as a movie, so I donated $50 to the film’s groundbreaking Kickstarter campaign.
Much like the two remaining seasons of the show, the film wasn’t able to find a mystery as good as the one in the first season. I’d detail it, but I really didn’t care about it. Veronica shouldn’t have, either, but dreamy bad boy ex-boyfriend Logan was the prime suspect for the murder of the chick who they vaguely went to high school once played by a pre-Gossip Girl Leighton Meester (but sadly not in the movie). She just can’t say no to Logan who is now in the military…
…But this is only referenced at the beginning and end of the film. Wouldn’t you think if a USO who is also the son of a dead action movie star was accused of murder, this would be a bigger deal? Or was this inserted because there was a Kickstarter reward to put Jason Dohring in a uniform and I missed it?
Thank you, whoever did that, but…oh, the fan service. The film plays much like indulgent, pandering fan fiction by a thirteen-year-old girl in 2008, playing fan service since it was a fan-funded film, but to a ridiculously corny extent. The call backs. The cameos. A speech that is word-for-word quoted at the end by a character who wasn’t supposed to remember it.
Every fan favorite seems to get a piece of the film, from Vinnie Van Lowe and Deputy Leo to Mac and Wallace, but it makes the mystery take a huge back seat, leaving the plot to be “Hey, we’re all back! Remember us?” Sadly, Veronica’s own burgeoning law career also takes a backseat and…she chooses to go back to high school essentially, and be a P.I. in California. She also literally goes back to high school and has lunch with Wallace, now a basketball coach there.
Here lies my other problem with this film and the general resurrection of the series: Rob Thomas stated at PaleyFest that he originally pitched Veronica Mars as “teenage noir.” Part of the original hook was indeed that this witty badass P.I. was a teenager, which was super cool. A decade later? She’s just a late 20s chick who abandoned a promising law career and Piz, a really sweet guy who worked for This Freakin’ American Life and Ira Fuckin’ Glass, to jump in bed with Pvt. Logan, her hot-headed high school ex-boyfriend, and go work for her dad in a town that treated her like shit throughout her formative years. (I already saw that Kristen Bell movie: It’s called The Lifeguard, it’s on Netflix, and it was very depressing.)
I don’t want to watch that show. Or movie. Because I really don’t believe any of that was in character for Veronica. It was all done to get her back into the original world of the show for sequel possibilities and money, but all of the appeal of the original was that she was a teenager. Now, she’s just a capable adult P.I. And that made me start to wonder about this new thing we keep encountering: Show Resurrection.
Some shows really do die too soon. My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks are prime examples. Family Guy once was one, too. So was Arrested Development. But let’s go back to My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks. What truly makes those shows special in retrospect is that they were a gems with a life cut short. There’s so much potential there that we’ll never see blossom into something.
That used to be true for Family Guy and Arrested Development, but the difference here is that they came back. Now, Family Guy will not get out of our lives and Arrested Development‘s revival was one of the most disappointing binge watching experiences I’ve had on Netflix, next to Hemlock Grove.
So, is it better to leave classic shows dead and buried in the past? Or should we Kickstart to revive every show we’ve lost, trying to recapture past glory? Personally, I think there’s a point where you have to appreciate something for what it is and realize that no amount of money is going to bring the magic back.
As I was writing this, Time Magazine posted this review, so at least someone else agrees with me.
Let’s talk about food now. I made a Marshmallow Mermaid Pie for Pi day, because it was an excuse to bake a pie that has everything I love: Marshmallow (which, like Veronica, was a childhood nickname of mine), sprinkles/jimmies, whipped cream, and geometry.
The recipe I used is right over here.