Pop Culture Gadabout
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
      ( 5/10/2006 09:03:00 AM ) Bill S.  

THE TEEVEE RICH ARE VERY DIFFERENT FROM YOU AND ME – The season finale for Veronica Mars aired last night, and – try as it might – it just couldn't provide the cure for the bad case of sophomore-itis the show's been displaying all year. The season's central mystery proved too convoluted and disjointed to work (requiring one of those five-minute explications that always play so believably when the heroine is delivering it to a desperate and just exposed killer), while the episode's denouement unsuccessfully tried to pass off a "he's still alive" moment that was nearly as unconvincing as the finale to Spielberg's War of the Worlds.

Season Two's central problem from the start has resided in the fact that – no matter how many red herrings the writers may've served up – its mystery (the death of a busload of school kids) wasn't really connected to our spunky heroine. The killing of Lily Kane from Season One caused a seismic shift in Veronica's life: in addition to taking away her best friend (a figure who never, I must say, seemed that deserving of VM's loyalty), it also led to dad Keith Mars' fall from social grace and Veronica's descent from member of the high school elite into observing outsider. This drop in social status was probably ultimately better for her as a person, but it's hard to see that when you continue to live and work in a land where layabout rich kids continue to mindlessly play all around you. The show's writers have frequently been at their spiky best playing Veronica against these addle-pated nouveau riche kids, but a few good snarks do not a series make.

Second Season's mystery attempted to make the setting's simmering class dynamics a more upfront part of the storyline, but it ultimately didn't add up to much. (A sudden revelation about our heroine's once resolved date rape seemed like just one more last ditch attempt at personalizing the puzzle.) In the end, the year's big mystery – like that of the year before – hinged on yet another creepy privileged adult male taking sexual advantage of the young. Those darn Baby Boomers!

Make no mistake: I'm still attached to this series and hope against hope that the new recombinated UPN/WB net makes room for Season Three on next year's schedule. There's much to continue to love about Veronica Mars, most particularly the crystalline acting done by Kristin Bell, Enrico Colantoni & Jason Dohring. It's just that compared to its great opening season, Season Two had a few too many loose seams showing. The results may've been better than most of what passes for series television, but I'm still hoping Rob Thomas and the rest of his writing staff tighten things up on Season Three . . .

NOTE: Nice moody use of Gravenhurst's cover of the Kinks' "See My Friends" on the soundtrack, incidentally . . .

NOTE II: Tom the Dog has a more positive take on the season finale.
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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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