Why Saving ‘Veronica Mars’ is Different Than Saving ‘Jericho’

In the wake of the impressive ‘Nuts for Jericho’ campaign, Herc over at Ain’t it Cool News is calling out to fans of another canceled show, Veronica Mars, in an attempt to bring them together to bring back their own favourite show. Now, the amazing success of the Jericho campaign is something that should be inspiring fans of all sorts of canceled shows, and I believe that this is both natural and productive. And, as a fan of Veronica Mars, there is little I would enjoy more than to be able to enjoy one of the most enjoyable TV shows in recent years on a weekly basis again. However, all of this being said, I have to make something very clear to fans getting on this bandwagon:

Veronica Mars is not Jericho.

Jericho was a freshman drama which opened with strong numbers and due to a variety of factors lost those numbers after a midseason hiatus. It was booted from the schedule without really getting a fair shake: it never had a chance to rebuild, facing off against American Idol, and even CBS admitted they never gave it the proper treatment it deserved. As a result, after enormous fan outcry, CBS is giving it a chance and giving it a chance to prove itself at midseason.

The problem for Veronica Mars is that this situation happened…two years ago. When, after weak ratings in its first season, fan support from sites like TelevisionWithoutPity and the show’s creative potential convinced UPN head Dawn Ostroff to save the show from cancellation and give it a better spot on their schedule. It was in the same situation just last year, when Ostroff again saved the show in the move to The CW, pairing it with Gilmore Girls in a last-ditch effort to boost the show’s ratings.

In other words, Jericho and Veronica Mars were in the same position, yes, but Veronica Mars has gone past that point. It has had two years to show UPN and The CW its potential, and both times out it has failed to improve its ratings. As a result, fans of the show can’t claim (As Jericho fans could) that the show wasn’t given a fair treatment, and deserves a fourth season. In fact, I think that they have to admit that Veronica Mars had two more seasons than its ratings dictated. And, as a result, fans need to go into this with lowered expectations: Saving Veronica Mars will not be easy, and it certainly isn’t the same situation as the one CBS faced for the past three weeks.

However, this does not mean I believe they should stop fighting, or that I won’t be fighting with them. Instead, unlike Jericho fans, I believe that Veronica Mars fans should be focused on getting resolution and resolution only. Left with a finale that was meant to lead on to bigger things, fans want to know what happens next. They were left wanting more, and I don’t think it is unreasonable that they should get it. I just don’t think that the show’s ratings, or its three previous lives, dictate another kick at the can entirely.

Rather, what fans need to be fighting for is the opportunity for the show to conclude with a TV-Movie or, preferably, TV Movies. Veronica, as a character, has a lot of life in her. She is complex, youthful, energetic, intelligent, and yet is able to also handle more dramatic work thanks to the deft acting of Kristen Bell. She is powerful and unique, and for me represents a fantastic character to analyze further. And, I believe that the TV Movie genre, something that The CW’s corporate family member CBS enjoys greatly, might just be where Veronica can find a home.

Put Veronica into the FBI, having graduated from the academy. Have her relationship with her father be somewhat damaged, but yet she continues to rely on him with certain cases. Have Mac be her tech girl, working with information of a highly sensitive nature. Have Wallace be her best friend, the one she relies on for a regular life. Bring back Logan as part of the film’s mystery, but do so in a way that seems natural. Throw all of this together, and you’ve got a youth-skewing version of an older-skewing construct that could well be a hit on a Sunday Evening for CBS at some point next season.For me, this is what Veronica Mars deserves. It had two years to prove it could survive as a series, and the reality was that it couldn’t do it. If it had been canceled after that first season, I would be outraged and demand that it be renewed, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t canceled after a weak 2nd season either. Instead, it lasted three full seasons, more or less against all odds, and in my mind it has run its course. The problem is that while it ran its course as a series, the characters and the universe it created has not done the same. I believe there is yet life in these characters, and that there needs to be a way for them to return to the small-screen.

And, while fans of Jericho were adamant that only a second season would do, I believe that Veronica Mars fans should be willing to take whatever they can get. Rob Thomas could write the TV Movies without a full writing staff, and they wouldn’t have to worry about locking down actors or reacquiring sets or soundstages. Veronica Mars deserves to live on, in some form, but I don’t believe that the show has any life left in it. It’s time to embrace something new that, while certainly not perfect, would give us some level of closure while opening the door for Veronica and Keith and everyone else to become part of our lives into the future in a whole new way.



Filed under Television, The CW, Veronica Mars

12 responses to “Why Saving ‘Veronica Mars’ is Different Than Saving ‘Jericho’

  1. filmtx

    While I agree with your argument to an extent, I think your comparrison leaves out the fact that “Jericho” benefited from premiering on a well-recognized network (CBS) with higher viewership AND got TONS of advertising to draw in viewers. “Veronica Mars” didn’t. After 3 seasons, there are still millions of tv viewers who have never heard of the show. UPN/CW had one of the best written, most unique shows on tv that starred an amazing cast of the most promising, up-and-coming talent in Hollywood and it all but neglected it. Not to say that “Veronica Mars” would have had a better fate on a bigger network. In fact, it probably would have been cancelled earlier on a bigger net. But it would at least have gotten a better chance early on.

  2. Filmtx, I agree with your argument to an extent as well: Veronica was never given the proper treatment to make it a success in the first place, even relative to its placement on UPN. However, it was then given two chances with powerful lead-ins to do so, and it never materialized even with its network being considered.

  3. YME

    “It has had two years to show UPN and The CW its potential, and both times out it has failed to improve its ratings.”

    I’ve always found Neilson ratings to be suspect, because I nor anyone I have ever known has ever in our lives been a Neilson family. (Yeah, I know, statistical sample, yadda yadda yadda.) But could it be that, for whatever random reason, many households that do happen to watch VM are just never effectively counted? Seems like VM fans are showing themselves to be a viewership desirable to advertisers, considering the swift response to this grass-roots campaign which involves people actually coughing up some of their hard-earned money in order to be able to continue to watch their favorite show on TV for free.

  4. YME, I agree: Nielsen ratings aren’t perfect. However, they’re the only statistic we really have, and the problem is that VM’s ratings have actually gone down over that period. Whatever Nielsen viewers were counted in the 1st season haven’t stuck around.

    I think that VM fans have a considerable amount of worth, there’s no question about it, I’m just not sure it’s considerable enough relative to the many chances the show has had in the past. It only have so many lives, it isn’t quite cat-like.

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  6. filmtx

    Myles, I would concede your point if every other show on CW were getting good ratings. But they aren’t. In fact, “Veronica Mars” is one of the very few shows that actually has gained in ratings over previous seasons. Yet, it is getting cancelled while other shows, which have actually dropped in ratings, are getting renewed. I won’t even get into what I think about the new Fall line up. Yes, “Veronica Mars” has horrible ratings. But I don’t think it is entirely the show’s fault. I blame it on CW trying to market their new network more than the shows on it. Newsflash, CW. No one turns the tv on to watch a network. They turn it on to watch a show. Promote the SHOWS, build the network. In that order.

  7. yourock

    The reason your argument needs a little work is that Veronica Mars was not ever marketed well, and it was ALWAYS pitted against ratings powerhouses like American Idol and House. VM is an amazing show whose network failed it. The CW has a goldmine in VM, but they sent a little kid in with a spoon and thought they’d get gold out… you need miners and pickaxes!!!

    The CW needs to bring it back in a timeslot where it can shine, at which point it will become clear to everyone that the appeal of Veronica Mars was never the problem – it was the networks lackluster marketing!

  8. YouRock:

    There is not a single timeslot on the CW’s schedule where a show will not face tough competition. Not a single one. They gave the show the timeslot behind Gilmore Girls and the timeslot after America’s Next Top Model, and neither one was able to build the show’s fanbase.

    If they put it on Thursdays, it would be against Grey’s Anatomy. If the show was on Fridays, no one would watch it. If it was on Mondays, it would face Heroes. If it was on Tuesdays, House. Wednesdays, Idol. Sundays, well, the less said about The CW’s Sundays the better.

    My point is that they’ve tried, twice, to give it a plush spot, and it has done nothing for them. Look at the ratings that Supernatural is pulling against CSI and Grey’s on Thrusdays, and tell me that Veronica Mars (ratings-wise) was a relative success?


    You are absolutely right about The CW’s major problem. However, to be honest, I think that canceling existing shows might actually be the best way to define themselves as something new. They were the network where Gilmore Girls and America’s Next Top Model came together, not a new network: that made them just blend into the others. What they needed was a big new show, and perhaps Gossip Girl could achieve that status.

    And, which shows is The CW keeping that fell in ratings? Supernatural may have fallen, but it faced much tougher competition this year (As did Smallville with Ugly Betty and FOX’s Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader arriving). One Tree Hill would be the only one, then, and I’d agree wholeheartedly: THAT show getting a flashforward reboot over Veronica Mars is an injustice.

  9. Skyroom80

    All of the above comments have merit.

    About Nielsen ratings: they do not reflect accurate viewership anymore as can be seen by the declining ratings on ALL shows on ALL networks. People are DVR-ing, watching shows online, and purchasing from download sites like iTunes.

    About the CW: They have decreased in viewers since combining UPN and the WB. It’s true they have not marketed “Veronica Mars” well. What was with the pre-teen type promos this season?

    About “Veronica Mars” viewers: What I don’t understand is why the CW wants to alienate 2+ million viewers who are guaranteed to tune in to a show every week.

    Personally, I’d take anything I can get. A few made-for-TV Veronica Mars movies? Sure. A 4th season? You bet.

  10. Skyroom, I would say that The CW wanted to make Veronica Mars into something it wasn’t, and in the process lost sight of what it was. And, as a result, viewers never got a clear picture of the show, and the new viewers that were supposed to arrive for the drama never materialized.

    And don’t get me wrong: I think that we need more Veronica Mars. I just don’t think that, like Jericho, pure fan goodwill and support will reinstall the series. A compromise is all we can hope for.

  11. MARS had three seasons to prove itself, and simply didn’t grow beyond its small but loyal fanbase.

    JERICHO has room to grow and deserves a second chance, after CBS ruined the momentum it had with a massive break in the middle of the season.

    It will be interesting to watch how JERICHO does next season.

    MARS fans, save your money and relax. No doubt Rob Thomas will write a book. He owns the book rights to VERONICA.

  12. Skyroom80

    TV Addict,

    Books are great but they’re different from what is accomplished on the screen. Veronica Mars is/was one of the small gems of either the big screen or the small screen.

    It’s worth a quixotic effort. Hope you don’t mind if some of us decided to tilt at a few windmills.

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