We review the UPN mystery drama, Veronica Mars, on The Pilot Podcast. Join us as we watch this show for the first time! Will Veronica Mars remember to help herself like she’s helping others? How has everyone in this small town let her basically run it as a teenager? Tune in for our conversation!
Veronica Mars is an American noir mystery drama television series created by screenwriter Rob Thomas. Season 1 revolves around Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell), a high school student and private investigator in the fictional Southern California seaside town of Neptune. As the daughter of well-respected County Sheriff Keith Mars, Veronica's biggest problem was getting dumped by her boyfriend, Duncan Kane, until the murder of her best friend Lilly Kane. After Lilly's murder, Veronica's life falls apart. Veronica now helps her father solve cases and conducts her own investigations on behalf of schoolmates.
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Welcome to The Pilot Podcast!
Where we watch the pilot episodes of TV shows and recap other shows to answer your question: Should I watch this?
My name is BJ.
And my name is Mitu.
And this week we're checking out the UPN series Veronica Mars.
UPN, what a throwback. Stay tuned to the end to find out if BJ will solve his lifelong mystery: how much he loves me.
There is no answer.
The limit does not exist?
Well... Anyway, listeners, you're probably wondering, why are we checking out a UPN series. It's because Veronica Mars, which started on UPN, got moved to the CW, got canceled, came back for a movie, is now coming back again as a streaming series on Hulu. And we wanted to check it out because we love our girl Kristen Bell. And I didn't actually watch this growing up.
Me neither I was curious about this and I was happy to see it come up as one of the listener recommended shows for us to check out. I actually interned at a place where one of my supervisors was so obsessed with Veronica Mars that she actually donated enough money when they did a crowdfunding campaign for the movie, and she was in it. She's an extra in something.
Oh, that's so fun.
And so she has met Kristen Bell. I think once or twice. She is obsessed with it. And so I was just curious to watch a show that someone could be that into. In this first episode, we meet Veronica Mars who's starting her junior year at Neptune high school, she befriends Wallace Fennel, who we see getting
by the school biker gang because he tripped a silent alarm when two members of the crew tried to steal alcohol from the corner store he worked at and throughout the series, it's clear that we're going to explore her recovery from someone sexually assaulting her, her investigation of the murder of her best friend Lily Kane and her working cases with her father who was Sheriff but due to complications with Lily Kane's murder, and accusing her father of said murder he loses his job and becomes a PI. So they track people like cheating spouses and other things I think we'll see later on in the series that are typical of what we know for PI work.
And there's a plotline about her mother who chose to leave the family after her father lost his position as sheriff.
So Beej, how did you feel about this pilot?
I thought it was interesting. There were a lot of throwbacks going back to 2004, when this premiered.
Fashions, the way people talk to each other, the way high school was depicted, what's considered acceptable bullying, which is a weird term.
I think the threshold for what counts as bullying in this show, as typical behavior would be used now to depict extreme bullying behavior.
which I guess that's good about society our threshold is going down.
I guess we're evolving because on shows at least, we're not depicting black children getting strung up using duct tape in front of the entire school.
Yeah, they remove all his clothes and he had duct tape underwear, essentially.
And they wrote snitch on his chest, but spelled it S-N-I-C-H.
I think that's to show that the gang doesn't go to class, so they're not as bright as some of the other students.
It reminds me of the iconic Love & Hip Hop Atlanta moment, when Momma Dee was really mad about I think it was Scrappy's baby mama. And she was like, she's a B-I-C-T-H. And I think she realized the mistakes she made, and she doubles down, which I respect completely, and she ends it with in that order to and the confidence of that was inspiring.
Own it, which I think is a good transition to our main girl Veronica Mars, because one thing about her is that she's very confident. She doesn't even react as strongly as you would expect, not just anyone but a 16 year old, someone who maybe doesn't have that much experience with crime, but she's calm and cool, collected, scheming, planning the entire episode.
I get how people, especially young women loved this show, because the intrigue is there, the anticipation and excitement is there of what's going to happen next. And then on top of all of it, you have this very fully realized young woman who is kind of running the town
Behind her father's back.
And very behind the scenes. So in the show some of the hijinks she gets into, her friend that she makes, Wallace, who was teased by that biker gang for... teased is such a light word.
Harassed, assaulted by that biker gang for S-N-I-C-H-I-N-G, she basically works with him and pulls some strings to replace the DVD from the store that captured
Sorry, the VHS from the store that captured the security footage of the two kids stealing the alcohol with footage of one of the sheriff's police officers engaging in some nefarious activity. So she got to clown the sheriff who she hates for very obvious reasons. And she got to save the day and stop those biker gang kids from going to prison. And she did that by working with a security officer at the school, impersonating an administrative assistant at the school, working with the kid at the school to plant evidence in someone's locker so that evidence would be put into the evidence locker with the VHS tape, she worked with a police officer to switch out the tapes because she set sort of like a smoke bomb situation in that evidence locker. There were so many people facilitating this. And it was interesting how many strings she could pull despite the fact that her father had really fallen from grace after this murder investigation of her best friend.
She has a lot of people who trust and support her. And a lot of them were very willing like, oh, no problem, of course, I'll do this. We're not even sure if they knew the full extent of what they were involved in beyond their portion of her entire plan. And we even see by the end, she's now befriended the biker gang, since she helped two members of that gang not get arrested. And so now they're supporting her when there's an act of vandalism going on with some people she's having a conflict with. So she's literally like building her army of people in the town of Neptune.
I just think it would be so fascinating to be the most powerful person in a small town. Like how Chip and Joanna Gaines are basically the economic powerhouse of Waco, Texas and nearby communities. I just bet that's interesting, because sure there are elected officials there, sure there is law enforcement and other governing bodies, but I feel like Chip and Joanna are emperors of that community.
You would like to to know what it's like to wield that power in a small community.
If someone could speak explicitly about it, and then maybe the rest of us can see if it's worth it to start moving into small towns and attempting it ourselves. But I just have to know if it's worth it. And I would love you know, just an explicit heads up on what it's like.
I'm sure there's some forums online where you can really talk to people about that and maybe even find a how to guide.
I-want-to-take-over-a-small-town dot tumblr dot com
Yeah, but maybe they changed some of the letters to numbers, so it doesn't pop up in Google as easily.
I-wanna-tak3-over-@-small-town dot tumblr dot com
Just try a few of those and see if you get the right one.
Speaking of the internet, it was interesting to hear them talking about streaming services like it was this which it was at the time revolutionary new technology.
Yeah. So we find out one of Veronica's classmates, his father started this company that developed revolutionary streaming technology and like sold for a billion dollars. So the wealthier get even wealthier. And there's this whole idea that now that we have streaming technology, viral videos is a concept. So when Veronica's friend ends up murdered, there was a video that was actually evidence from the crime, and it leaked on the internet. And it went viral, because now people can stream these types of videos. So I really like how they integrated how technology can really influence not only crime, but just people's lives and how news spreads.
It is interesting to see a pre social media high school because I also think most bullying we grew up watching was on the internet. I remember seeing shows and movies that depict Facebook groups that slam people or websites that slam people and then later on, we see that evolve as social media evolves. But I haven't seen a show in a long time that depicts what being a young person pre the proliferation of social media is like and it was interesting.
We're seeing all those old school ways that kids can pick on each other.
So in the show, we learn that Veronica was date raped. That coupled with her best friend being murdered, and not being sure about who did it, sets her on this course to be a completely different person from the person that we see in the flashbacks where she is a little bit bubbly, her hair is longer, she's just a totally different person now. And I'm curious about how social media would have treated both theories surrounding her best friends murder, and her date rape, because I can imagine a lot more would have been done on the show with people maybe teasing her online, or I feel like there's a lot of Lifetime movies at center around this sort of thing.
I was thinking another direction when you were bringing this up is that if they had more social media and technology at that time, there would be more evidence, especially at the party where she was roofied, she'd be in the background of people's photos and videos. So she might have more of an idea what happened to her.
That's such a good point, because there are true crime podcasts and other online forums that gather people who are obsessed with true crime to help solve murders.
We really are in a crowdsourcing era where we're seeing how technology is bringing people together, and they're able to solve cases, fund new projects and initiatives. And I think it's bringing us to a point where like what Veronica was doing with the people in our town, people who don't realize that they can contribute to a bigger plan actually do have a role that they can play.
Sometimes I get nervous about it, because I fear vigilantism. But it is cool that from just search engines and you having the time, that an investigator wouldn't because they're managing so many different cases, to comb through all of these things to look for consistencies. There's something empowering about that. In Michelle McNamara's book, she writes about how she spent an entire afternoon looking at the calf sizes of this swim team, I believe that was near where a lot of the murders happened. And the idea was that a few of the victims said that the person had thick calves and she looked up basically sports where you have thick calves and swimming came up. And so she observed all of these I think they were water polo players maybe to see if any of them might be a match, meeting the description that some of the victims provided. And that's definitely something an investigator wouldn't have time to do.
That's taking it to a new level of dedication. What did you think of Veronica's dedication to collecting evidence because we see her driving around often at night, she has her own camera so she's spying on people, taking photos, tracking people, her suspects.
I thought that was interesting because we often see this dynamic in TV shows and movies, this trope of this family has undergone some trauma. So one of the parents leaves and the remaining parent and the teenage child become more like roommates than parent and child. And so she constantly tells her dad, I have errands to run, people to meet, appointments to make at 11pm. And he does not question it. He just lets her cook. And I feel like that's a common trope you see in movies and shows when it comes to a family undergoing the trauma of a parent leaving and some other big things. The difference here is she's using that time to solve crimes.
As Madonna once probably said, life is a mystery. Everyone must stand and read.
Well, good news for you and our listeners. This episode is brought to you by Audible. For fans of mysteries like Veronica Mars, you can find all the mystery books you could want on the platform like Where'd you go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple and Find Her by Lisa Gardner.
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Again, that's audibletrial.com/thepilotpod. Happy listening!
And now back to our show.
I think they're trying to draw the line between the terrible things that happened to her and to the people that she loves, and her need to help people and solve the mysteries that are plaguing them. So I wonder if the show addresses her own problems and gives her a chance to address them and heal from them versus channeling all of her energy into solving other people's mysteries. So for example, she doesn't know who sexually assaulted her. She was roofied and so she woke up the next day and didn't know who had hurt her. I wonder if we'll get to see her heal from that versus just solving the mysteries that other people are wanting to solve.
I would say that this is probably how she's chosen to cope with it and not in a way that avoiding all the loss that she's dealt with. But projecting her loss on these people she sees in the cases where it's like: I lost my mom, I don't know why; she lost the protection and sanctity of her own body; she's lost her best friend. And so now she wants to prevent other people from having to go through that experience. That might be helping her, it might be her avoiding, but I think in some way, it must help her heal at least slowly.
It makes me think of all of the nonprofits that have been started because people have experienced a trauma. Like people who were sex trafficking victims, starting nonprofits and foundations to end sex trafficking, or there was an episode of Queer Eye in this latest season where this soldier came home unexpectedly, he was medically discharged after an injury and felt very lost. And so potentially some level of avoidance there, I think instead of continuing to feel his feelings or being uncomfortable in his feelings, he started building tiny homes for veterans experiencing homelessness, because I think his main point was, I can't fix everything that's happened to me, but I can help the next veterans who feel lost, and feel that they don't have the right structures or systems in place to get back on their feet. So yeah, it's probably both.
Yeah, I'd say it's both. That's how a lot of people choose to heal, because they can relate to others. Unfortunately, you can't undo some of these things so it's like I feel better preventing it from happening to others.
Also, it always feels good to help someone with their problems instead of dealing with your own. That's so relatable.
It's usually easier.
Obviously, the levels of trauma vary greatly, but nothing makes me feel better after a hard week when someone asked me how I'm doing and I immediately deflect and go, how are you doing?
What's up with you?
Oh, great. Great. Great. So what did you think of her new friend Wallace?
I'm excited to see where her relationship with Wallace goes. I'm getting the vibe that they want to use this as a will they are won't they romantic relationship, which I really love. I definitely see him becoming an investigative partner. And I like that they're going to be partners and not have any of those uncomfortable moments of whether they should date cause I just don't see that coming. What about you?
I like the start to their relationship. In uh, a why not be friends way? That's interesting. And I agree. I like that they're keeping it platonic, at least at this stage, not hinting at it going in a romantic direction because I think at least for Veronica's character, she's already got so much going on and so many storylines she's involved in and mysteries she wants to solve that having this new friend also be a romantic interest would be maybe too messy. Yeah, but I do think and you spoiled it for me by reading some summaries of future episodes and plot lines.
For the record listeners, I looked up the Wikipedia page for season one. So I got all the characters names right and then right there, it told us about some relationships she had brewing. So we won't spoil it for you, but it was in the first two paragraphs when I was just trying to get the names of people right.
I'm not disappointed that you told me and I think it's predictable that inevitably, she's gonna get with someone and listeners, I will say like a lot of teen dramas from the CW, it's pretty obvious which guy she has some of that chemistry with.
So it's just inevitable on this style of show, but I'm glad she at least has one solid, just regular friend.
Do you have any theories on what's next for the show? Will we uncover more about her best friend's murder? Will her father regained some of his dignity in the town? Will Veronica learn more about why or who assaulted her?
Well, Mitu, I do actually know some of those answers. Only because of the film. I haven't seen it, but I read a lot about it and a lot of the actors in the cast talked about how the show wrapped up so I do know some of those bigger questions and how those plot lines wrap up. What I will say is one of the cool things about this show is that each season takes a overarching mystery approach. Kind of like, How to Get Away with Murder's a good example, you have your major murder for the season. There are a lot of other plot lines throughout the season, but you have the big question, and I think this show does a good job of having bigger questions that do get answered throughout the season, as well as weaving in episode by episode plotlines.
Okay, so I won't add any predictions because you are a spoiler person. Actually, I have one prediction. I do think that we won't find everything out in this first season.
I'd say that's a good theory. Anyway, Mitu, it's time to head into our rating and I think we should answer this in two parts.
So I think the first question is, should our listeners watch the pilot episode and first season of Veronica Mars? And should they stick with it to see what's going on with this revival on Hulu?
It's hard for me to speak to the revival. I guess some reviews have said that they've retained the magic from the show. I would say that this pilot episode is definitely worth viewing. And that I would suggest watching again, seriously. But, I think we've said this before, maybe when you have a long trip coming up or something like that, or you have some downtime, so especially this summer, before Fall TV comes back. To be honest, I don't think this show, to me, I'm being so careful about this because I have friends that love this show who might listen to this, To me, I don't think this show was as interesting as the other shows I will watch this Fall. But it is interesting enough that between now and September before TV really comes back. I'll probably watch as much as I can. I don't know that I'll finish it. But as soon as TV comes back, to be honest, I'll probably forget about this show until December. And I'm not sure for everyone else, if you are obsessed with mysteries, then I would suggest you watch this seriously. But if not, you're just looking for a good show, this will hold you until the Fall.
I think that's a fair rating.
What about you, Beej?
I would say I'm somewhere similar falling between would watch again seriously or casually starting with this first season. And if that hooks you, power on through all the way up to this revival, the fourth season on Hulu. My only concern is that these seasons are quite a bit longer than your typical streaming series, where it's 20+ episodes, so it's not as binge-able. So I would say this is something you would want to work through more casually on the weekends. If this mystery really is intriguing to you, knock out a few episodes at a time until you find out all the answers. The one good thing though is if you do make it all the way to season four on Hulu, it is eight episodes. So I think Hulu is really diving into the streaming quality that this show can have so it would be much more binge-able with the latest season.
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai