It began as a rumour from Michael Ausiello at TV Guide yesterday, and by last night it was picked up by the Hollywood Reporter. The story is really quite a simple one: in the wake of the cancellation of Gilmore Girls and a successful story pitch for an FBI Spinoff, Veronica Mars might just be finding its way onto The CW’s fall schedule in some form. And I, for one, am quite pleased to hear this.
I wrote about the spinoff when it was first proposed, and at the time I felt it would be a good step forward, but I’m more convinced now than ever. Veronica is a complex character with qualities which make for strong character relationships and a penchant for witty dialogue that doesn’t seem forced. The show, as it stands now, is entirely contingent on the strength of her character, and as a result any spinning off of the original show that includes her can be successful.
I think this is especially true about last night’s episode, which was at the very least a return to basic form from last week’s abysmal episode. It got a few things back on track, such as the entire focus on relationships. While last week seemed like too much, too fast, this week things actually progressed at a reasonable speed. Veronica and Piz slowed things down, and the result was an episode where they actually did seem to connect a little. Their handholding at the end felt like it actually meant something, unlike their kissfest at the end of last week.
Similarly, although I would argue she made a terrible error in judgment, Mac’s relationship issues were much more psychological as opposed to overbearing. Last week was basically the boozefest, and this week was the sobering period; she came to the realization that she and Bronson were too dissimilar for her (Which I think is bull, but Mac’s old enough to make her own choices) and that she was connecting with the morally questionable geek instead. Instead of seeming like the show smashing “ROMANCE ROMANCE ROMANCE” into our brains, it felt like the characters were actually feeling things…and this is an improvement, and a return to better things for the series.
The problem is that this romance drama, as well as Keith’s Sheriff subplot, can only go so far. Sure, it was nice to have Deputy Leo (Max Greenfield, also recently seen on Ugly Betty) back, but there isn’t much potential there from a storyline perspective. The Sheriff stories have remained downright boring, even with Vinnie Van Lowe cutting in to the race for Sheriff, but they’re not the only problem. To be honest, I don’t think the college setting is working for the show either.
The first season was inherently dramatic and conflict-filled thanks to Veronica position as an outcast, and the overarching theme of Lily’s murder. The second season lacked this kind of drama, replacing it with a bus crash which seemed forced, but at the very least did provide some form of content for storylines, and high school has plenty of stereotypes to play with.
The problem with the third season, thus far, is that the College setting seems to be fresh out of ideas. The original rape storyline dealt with fraternities and the like, the Dean O’Dell Murder mystery dealt with further issues of campus politics and the danger of a spurned T.A., and now it feels like Veronica and Co. have experienced everything there is to experience at College. The weekly storylines thus far have been contrived and excessive. Last week’s heavy-handed “Inspirational” Arab-American storyline was far less entertaining than Paul Rudd’s guest starring role as one half of a 90s band, sure, but both were situations which seemed like the writers were stretching for material instead of mining the pot of college gold sitting there.
This tells me that, if anything, what Veronica needs desperately is a change of scenery so that the Producers can deal with different storylines in a different way, and can return to what makes the show work. If I had to provide a comparison point, I think that what I’m looking for is basically what we saw in the First Season of Alias. Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner, for the uninitiated) had her complicated “Working for the bad guys while thinking she was working for the good guys” scenario on one hand, which allowed for the storylines to set forward, but she also had a distinctly personal life with her roommate Francie and her friend Will (Although she also had a fiancé in there, who her boss had killed, but forget that). I use this comparison because I think that it provided J.J. Abrams and company the ability to humanize and relate this character back to something real even within the framework of the storylines.
And really, I think that those interactions are what I enjoy most about Veronica Mars. Some of the best scenes of last night’s episodes were the tiny little scenes between Veronica and Wallace which popped in just so they could tease one another. It’s the same thing with Veronica’s interactions with Mac, or of course with her father: they are the reason that even when in a bit of a down mode the show remains charming and original. These are the types of scenes that Alias relied on, and the loss of these scenes on Alias (For numerous body-changing/witness protection related reasons) was basically what killed the show in its third season. However, I think Veronica Mars has a chance to protect them.
If she goes off to FBI Academy, I say she rents a house with Wallace. I think that Mac should also be at the FBI Academy, training to be Veronica’s equivalent of Q. Keith should be retired as Sheriff, and spending his time as a special consultant for the FBI on some cases (Thanks to the book he wrote regarding the Lily Kane murder and his experience as Sheriff). With these three characters Veronica has a basic support structure, and yet at the same time she’s still a small fish in a big pond, and she can still be against the odds amongst her fellow agents. There can be a male antagonist/bad boy love interest (And sorry, shippers, no Logan), a female rival, a few quasi-friends amongst them, etc.
It believe that this would be a satisfying series that could give the writers some new and more interesting dynamics to consider. I figure that Veronica starts working on her father’s consulting cases, even when still in the training stages, which angers the people around her. I figure she still snoops around, getting Mac and Wallace to help her out in investigating people off the grid, so the speak. All of the actors would actually be playing closer to their real age, so it’s not even a stretch in those terms, and I think that there is more than enough potential for this spinoff to be worth The CW’s time and energy.
There’s rumours of a name change, but that really won’t matter. As long as Rob Thomas is in charge of a show starring Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars, I believe that all is right with the world. We’ll find out for sure next week, when The CW announces its fall lineup.