There’s a school reunion going on and you just got invited. You might have not really liked her, but that was the a key foundation of the success of Veronica Mars – the teenage detective that kept company to most people post the high school.
We meet Veronica (Kristen Bell) during her first year in Neptune High California, popular and happy. She was also dating the hunk of the school, Duncan, and was best friends with his sister – the rather wild Lily Kane (Amanda Seyfried). But it all went downhill when Lily Kane is presumed dead and no one can find the killer. Veronica’s father, the then Sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) is voted out of his job for accusing Lily Kane’s father as the killer. As a result Keith opens his own private detective agency. A now frail and disheartened Veronica becomes his witty secretary whilst still trying to navigate through school life. Veronica is naturally quite curious and has learnt a lot from her dad – often helping her school peers for money and favours. The show has often a “Noir” element to it, which makes the experience even more enjoyable. Media referencing other styles is always be a winner.
A big part of the show’s success was due to the main character’s relatable underdog hero persona. The series’ three seasons, running from 2004 until sadly ending in 2007, upset many fans who became used to visiting the snarky girl detective as part of their routine afternoon. Fans also became attachmed to Veronica and the characters as we, the audience got to see them grow through high school. The show tackled issues such as murder, rape, racism, teen pregnancy and drug trafficking in an intelligent and mature manner. There were also great displays of violence throughout the series, and I would challenge anyone who watched through the end of season 1 to say it didn’t get their turn their stomach violently. It was brilliant. For the majority of the show however, conflict resolutions were smart but peaceful. Quoting Veronica herself: “Despite popular opinion, you really can’t beat the truth out of someone”.
The Mars girl is savvy – and is not often something you see in shows besides Buffy the Vampire Slayer (probably why Joss Wheddon loves Veronica Mars). The show also follows Veronica’s friend Mac (Tina Majorino) – a brilliant savvy hacker, and Wallace (Percy Daggs III) supporting Veronica with most cases. Throughout the show we see Veronica use technology in unthinkable ways (ever tried to put a spy camera in an iPod?) and due to her brilliant thinking, she tends to solve crimes before the police. There is also elements of teenage drama keeping things interesting as we engage with Veronica’s emotional turmoil, her romances and break ups which sees Veronica (and her friends) develop considerably.
So why are we talking about a show that ended in 2007? Because just last year, Kristen Bell and other actors who worked in Veronica Mars started inviting everyone for a high school reunion – Veronica Mars’. Kristen Bell. now executive producer, and show creator Rob Thomas were turned down finances by Warner Bros, turning to Kickstarter and YouTube to make the film happen. Kickstarter has been brilliant financial source for independent films and games. The actors along with Rob Thomas managed to raise 5.7 million dollars instead of the initially requested 2 million. Kickstarter’s CEO Yancey Strickler called the project one of the greatest fan stories of all time.
Much emphasis was paced on the people backing the project and I can confidently say that the film brings a nostalgic feeling paralleled with that of seeing old friends. We see what happened to Veronica and her crew and even some secondary characters are given a brief return. This shows the power of Kickstarter as a company – the feature length film is not about big explosions, especial effects or car chases. It’s about “checking up” on a character that you haven’t seen in ages. In keeping with this familiarity the opening of Veronica Mar’s theme by Dandy Warhols sums up the happily reminiscent evocation the film brings – “A long time ago we used to be friends but I haven’t thought of you lately at all.” But hey, what happened to Veronica I hear you say! As she introduces herself in the beginning of the film after giving a very quick rundown of the series: – “I’ve grown up though, that was the old me, angry me, vengeful me. New me? People say I’m a Marshmallow!”
And she has, Veronica is now a lawyer and ready to kick-start her big career at a law firm (owned by none other than Jamie Lee Curtis) but trouble is brewing in her old town of Neptune and that puts Veronica’s priorities in jeopardy. It just so happens that someone was murdered in Neptune – and remember when I said the police there was quite dire? The new Sheriff (Jerry O’Connell) doesn’t seem much better. Veronica’s old friend Logan (Jason Dohring) needs help, Veronica ends up giving in and going back to Neptune as we see her reconnecting with her old self whilst trying to keep her eyes in her future. We also get to see old characters return and what they have been doing. Wallace is shown to be now working in a school, Mac working in a tech company and Gia Goodman (Krysten Ritter) – one of my favourites – who is now a socialite. The film also brings a nice reunion of minor characters, connecting them in the auspicious storyline. Overall, the film serves as a lovely little trip down memory lane and it has won the hearts and memories of many, currently sporting a nice 7.7 on IMDB and 76% on rotten tomatoes. The film also did great in the limited box office – for a film that appeared at a limited 300 screens, being available on demand and online the film raised 2 million dollars. Putting it into the top 10 and second highest-per-screen average for the weekend. Rob Thomas also seems interested in a sequel, but on his last e-mail to backers he reports it’s too soon to know anything for sure.
And for those who think the film was too fan focused, Rob Thomas wrote this: “Among critics, the most common complaint is that the movie is “too fan focused,” and you know what? I’m okay with that. We’ve been away a long time. There was some catching up to do, and like many of you, there was a lot that I wanted to see in this movie. Next time, maybe we’ll make a movie that’s 100% accessible to audiences who have never seen Veronica Mars.” In my view Television needs more series like Veronica Mars; with fresh engagements and ideas in its approaches!
So my advice? Now that you’ve about read it and know how great this remake of a classic series is, go take a trip to Neptune High and re-engage with one of the most intelligent shows in TV history. You’re probably waiting for the new season of Game of Thrones anyway, right?