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'Veronica Mars' 101

By Belinda Acosta, Fri., Jan. 13, 2006

'Veronica Mars' 101

"Tragedy blows through your life like a tornado, uprooting everything. Creating chaos. You wait for the dust to settle and then you choose. You can live in the wreckage and pretend it's still the mansion you remember. Or you can crawl from the rubble and slowly rebuild." – Veronica Mars, pilot episode

"Veronica Mars was supposed to be a boy," Thomas says of his TV series. Keith Mars, Veronica's father in the TV series, was the original protagonist of a series of teen noir detective novels Thomas had in the works when his TV writing career took off.

Many media critics contend that Veronica Mars debuted just in time to fill the void left by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the other teen drama featuring a pretty, blonde teenage heroine. However, that's where the similarities dramatically cease. Although Buffy was brilliant in cleaving the depths of the high school experience through the horror genre, Veronica Mars is, in some ways, much more horrifying in that it's placed in the here and now, with real, flesh-and-blood characters surviving the high school caste system.

At the center of Veronica Mars is Veronica herself, a girl who has done the impossible: She has fallen from the top of her high school's caste system and landed somewhere near the bottom – and survived.

At the series' outset, Veronica is a social outcast. Her alcoholic mother ditched Veronica and her father, Keith, the former town sheriff, now working as a private eye, after he suggested that one of Neptune's elite might be responsible for his own daughter's murder. But it wasn't just any murder. The victim was Veronica's best friend, Lilly Kane. Keith Mars was ousted in a recall election and declared a pariah.

Veronica stands by her father, but not without cost. After attending a class party to show she doesn't care about the whispers about her or her father, she awakes the next morning realizing that she has been slipped a roofie and raped. To make matters worse, the new law enforcement that took charge once her father was ousted are of no help. And this is where the pulse of the series lies: in Veronica Mars' ability – actually, her willfulness – to stay in this milieu while she gets to the bottom of the mystery of who killed her best friend and who raped her. Are the two events somehow related? Along the way, other mysteries surface: Is Keith Mars really her father? Is her onetime boyfriend Duncan Kane really her brother?

There are several online sources to read episode recaps of the first and current season, including www.upn.com/shows/veronica_mars and www.televisionwithoutpity.com. Also, season one is now out on DVD ... check it out for yourself.

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