Veronica Mars

I like television, but when it comes to actually watching new shows, I fall criminally behind. I first noticed this flaw when the series finale of Battlestar Galactica aired, and I realized I had yet to watch a single episode. It made the Battlestar Galactica finale party quite awkward.

As such, I periodically interspice my steady stream of home-delivered cinema from Netflix with entire seasons of the TV shows I've missed. This past week, I've been watching Veronica Mars.

For those like me who missed out the first time around, Veronica Mars is the story of a southern California teenager who moonlights as a private investigator. Using her father's professional detective equipment, her journalistic skills, and connections to access both clandestine and criminal information, Veronica is tasked with solving any number of crimes and cases that cross her path.

Each episode features two different mysteries, one unique to the episode, and one encompassing the entire season. It's a delicate balance giving equality to each story without ever sweeping the other under a rug, but from what I've seen so far, the show does it very well. Never is the season-long story arc forgotten amidst the mystery-of-the-week arc, but never does it take unnecessary screentime.

I didn't watch Veronica Mars when it originally aired for two reasons: It debuted in 2004, and it was on UPN. In case you don't remember, 2004 was the peak year of America's 21st Century Imbecility. Bush was in the white house, Larry the Cable Guy was becoming popular, and Ashton Kutcher was everywhere. Such notions as taste, intelligence and culture were being swept away in favor of easily marketable pablum extolling shallowness, greed, narcissism, and pride in being ignorant. It was a three-way race between the proud-to-be-a-redneck bumpkins, the bleached-blonde Aeropostale boneheads, and the 'I can't distinguish between culture and heritage' urban ghetto crowd.

The WB was the worst offender at the time, a mantle soon adopted by MTV and VH1. But UPN was almost as bad. It's hard to pit The WB against UPN precisely, as both were always on the periphery of the mainstream, never quite making a blip on the cultural radar. Even if Veronica Mars was a good show, a good show on UPN was the equivalent of a mediocre show on Fox.

It's amazing how perception has changed, especially after only six years. While Veronica Mars looks comparable to modern society, there are still small, almost unnoticeable details indicating this is the product of another era (including a notable cameo in episode two by she who must never be named). I recant my original stereotype of UPN, as several worthwhile shows actually did emerge, Veronica Mars being the crowning glory. It stands up against the test of time, and I imagine it will continue to do so. It's well-written, well-acted, and engaging. If you have the means, check it out.

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