We Watch Netflix's Veronica Mars Season One Without Prior Exposure to the Series.

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Veronica Mars Season 1

I had, of course, heard of the VERONICA MARS television series. And when Rob Thomas made history with his record-setting Kickstarter to make a VERONICA MARS movie, we were all over it, and reviewed the film upon its release. But the movie is, admittedly, my only exposure to the world of VERONICA MARS and her mystery-solving entourage. So we came into what is being touted as the First Season (it's chronologically the fourth) with an unmuddied opinion, free from canon and shipping.

What we got was, we thought, a pretty entertaining mystery series featuring a quick-witted private investigator (played by KRISTEN BELL) and her equally on-the-ball father, Keith Mars (ENRICO COLANTONI). She's in love with Logan Echolls (JASON DOHRING), who returns in this first episode from some top-secret trouble spot on the globe, and in possession of a set of skills that come in handy when Veronica has to crack a case.

The case in question is your stereotypical "mad bomber driving down real estate prices" trope. Except that it spirals into so much more than that, with a surfeit of suspects and motives, as well as spinoff cases. The initial bombing of a hotel filled with spring break students leads to drama with a senator's engagement to a girl his family didn't approve of, and the nephew of a cartel druglord who sends a pair of hitmen (CLIFTON COLLINS JR and FRANK GALLEGOS) to the U.S. to find the bomber and exact justice.

The main suspect is "Big Dick" Casablancas (DAVID STARZYK), recently released from Chino and a huge real estate mogul. He's been pushing an initiative through town hall to clean up the seaside town of Neptune, California. His right-hand man is former bank robber Clyde Pickett (played masterfully by JK SIMMONS), who may or may not have had his stolen loot re-stolen during his time on the inside.

And then there are the Murderheads -- a group of amateur sleuths including a pizza delivery boy (PATTON OSWALT) and a fraudulent government consultant (CLARK DUKE), who may also have motive for the bombings -- motives that have nothing to do with real estate prices. 

As we said, we thought we got a pretty decent show out of the experience. But when we went to Amazon to get information, we had to question: Why was the customer rating so low?

Reading through the comments, it became clear: This season of VERONICA MARS, separated from its previous seasons by years and nostalgia, had grown into something the fans--the keepers of canon and the shapers of shipping--could not abide. They did not like Veronica's harder attitude, they did not like the arcs of certain walk-on characters, and they certainly didn't like the shock ending for one of the main players.

Understandable. And keeping the fans happy is something that should be a goal of a creator.

But the fans don't create the series. They don't own the characters. Sometimes even the creators don't own the characters; they evolve into something that's beyond anyone's control, and they choose their own paths.

Free of the baggage of the past, I found this season of VERONICA MARS funny, the mystery intriguing, and the sideplots continually magnetic. The unique twist of the plot kept you from pinning the blame on any single person, which made the episodes exactly what they were meant to be.


4.0 / 5.0