04.18.13 | Rachel Malish
For today’s Throwback Thursday Staff Pick TV Pilot post we reached out to former Development Director Rachel Malish because of her famed love for Veronica Mars. Currently Rachel is the Austin Media and Community Relations Coordinator for Whole Foods Market.
The Pilot episode of Veronica Mars – they don’t get much better than this, folks! It’s a pilot episode and it does what it has to do: introduces you to your main players, fills you in on what you’ve missed (after all, these characters didn’t just start living and breathing when you came along), and sets the tone for the entire show – this will determine if and why you’ll continue to watch.
I’ll preface this by saying that I am a huge fan of Veronica Mars. I’m elated at the success of the Kickstarter campaign started by Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell. In the beginning, it was the Pilot episode that got me hooked. What I learned about the show in that short amount of time was a structure – the structure – that maintained throughout multiple seasons.
Every episode of Veronica Mars has legs and can stand alone. You don’t need to have watched every episode to enjoy one, but you enjoy them even more as an entire season. That’s when you put the puzzle pieces together and witness that master plan. Rob Thomas gives you a beginning, middle, and end in every episode. A viewer never feels cheated at the end of an episode. Viewers aren’t concerned that they didn’t get a 10 minute catch-up with each character in each episode; they’re leaving fulfilled every time. Each episode becomes its own mini-movie with its own problem to be solved, all while there looms, however subtly, a haunting backstory – a key driver of the overarching plot. While you can’t necessarily tell from a pilot episode what the structure for an entire season will look like, you can with Veronica Mars.
When you’re watching Veronica Mars for the first time, you may not appreciate the structure as much as you will eventually through 3 seasons. What you will appreciate is the show’s namesake: Veronica Mars. She’s the show, and here’s what Rob Thomas tells you about her in the first episode that gets you hooked:
She’s a pessimist. As she sits outside the Camelot Hotel waiting to snap a picture of a nameless adulterer for one of her father’s clients, she shares her shattered views of love. You realize in this first scene that she’s not your average teen scorned by one too many jocks, she’s got some very adult views of the world and is balancing a very adult career with high school calculus exams.
She’s an underdog. She hasn’t always been the low man on the totem pole, but she’s there now and so is her dad. Her hometown of Neptune is made up of “haves” and “have-nots” and once her dad’s Sheriff title is stripped, her billionaire boyfriend dumps her, and rumors of a promiscuous lifestyle fly, her former friends aren’t exactly banging down the door.
She’s distant. Veronica is lost in thought throughout much of her day. This is how we get to know her. She reflects on her life before the murder of her best friend, Lily (the sister of her billionaire ex-boyfriend), and her dad’s failure on the case follows her in her daily activities. As she falls asleep in class or zones out while gazing as a table full of old friends, we get a peek into the life of a more carefree Veronica, a less jaded version of her present day self, and a glimpse at how much change has taken place in less than a year of her life.
She’s got a cool dad. They’re in this together. Keith Mars is now a private investigator of Mar’s Investigation, and when he’s not on the case, Veronica is. He trusts her. He leaves her home alone for days at a time while he’s chasing bail dodgers. They have great banter. Like all father-daughter relationships, she thinks he’s a dork, but also finds it endearing. She’s hurt in this first episode by her father lying about a case involving Lily’s father and her own mother who left Veronica months before (no one said it wasn’t complicated). Even with her confusion about this, she admits that he must be protecting her. We can all tell he’s loving and kind. Dear old dad.
She’s got a conscience, and connections. She’s so smart! She uses her street smarts in the very first episode. We get to see Veronica at work. Not the kind of work she does specifically for Mars Investigation, the work we’ll see her do the rest of the season: helping out her peers at Neptune High. New kid Wallace is introduced and quickly becomes Veronica’s only friend. She uses her friends in high places (the fire chief still loves her dad) and low places (the pot head in pottery class) to get a new friend out of trouble. While she claims this is for self-serving reasons, Wallace knows she needs a friend. A beautiful friendship blooms right before your eyes, as well as a few new allies and enemies…
There’s more! She’s tough (and she’s got Backup!), she’s sharp tongued (her comments are biting, Kristen Bell says she’s not a comedic actress, but her delivery of the Veronica zingers are right on target), and she’s on a mission (she’s getting to the bottom of her families break up, and she’s scratching the surface on her dad’s secret investigation of Lily’s murder).
Watch the Pilot episode of Veronica Mars and prepare to keep watching. And don’t be intimidated by her harsh exterior. You know what the fans say: “Veronica Mars, she’s a marshmallow.”
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