Veronica Mars: Season 1

I’d had numerous people gushing at me about this series and despite a few flaws, it mostly lived up to its promise. It’s not going to be everyone’s taste, but it’s smart and funny and different.

The concept of the show is fun, Veronica Mars used to be one of the In girls until her best friend was murdered, her boyfriend (the friend’s brother) dumped her and her father (the sheriff) was sacked for the way the case was handled. Now she’s on the outside of all the groups, bitter and picked upon. She works with her father who’s now a private investigator and tries to solve the murder of her friend while picking up some side work from fellow pupils.

Conceptually it’s nothing spectacular, but the gradual development of the murder case makes the show fascinating to watch week to week. The tempo is nicely handled so there’s something new each week building up to the end of the season reveal, which may have been a bit rushed, but that may just be my feeling as I watched the last 5 episodes in a row. It’s a great mystery story with plenty of twists and turns in it. The mini-mystery each week is usually less complex, less memorable and occasionally excessively cheesy but give the opportunity to see into a variety of different lives at the high-school.

The cast is superb, limited only by two factors: the somewhat schizophrenic characters and the fact they’re 22-25 year olds playing 17. I guess it’s not unreasonable that the children who live in the spotlight are forced to mature faster and have more presence than your average 17 year old, but it is occasionally noticeable that they’re a lot older than they should be. With the varying characters it is again not unreasonable that children who have been through traumatic events would be somewhat unstable some of the characters do seem to vary wildly from sweet and caring right through to total selfish arseholes. It’s not necessarily noticeable when watching each episode, but when thinking back over the season it’s difficult to pin some of the characters down. Kristen Bell as Veronica is marvellous, Francis Capra is perfect as the leader of the biker gang bowing to no-one and Jason Dohring manages to play every one of his character’s personalities well. The stand-out I think though is Enrico Colantoni as Veronica’s father who as the token adult manages to come across as a very real person and bring humour and responsibility to the ensemble.

DVD Special Features (Region 1)
The region 1 set is rather disappointing. Given the target audience of the show and how active the show’s creator is online (he’s a regular poster on forums) I expected rather more than just a collection of deleted and extended scenes. The scenes were interesting, but to be honest I can’t actually remember any of them now. I suspect that this was a fast release to get season 1 out before season 2 started airing, so I expect there will be a special edition in the future.

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