Clearly, I am in the minority when it comes to Veronica Mars. Reviewers go on and on about the sharp writing on this show, but I just don’t see it. With character names like “Beaver”, “Butters”, “Weevil” and my favorite, “Dick Casablancas”, this is a show where the writing is actually one of the things that is wrong with this show. (And yes, Beaver and Dick are friends. How’s that for creativity?) The character of Wallace is an African American stereotype that is embarrassing, and stinks of what old while people think young black men are like. Not only are these characters one-dimensional and unrealistic, but some of them are borderline offensive.
Veronica Mars is really just Nancy Drew for the 21st century. The writers have tried their best to add some real adult drama to the series by throwing in a murder mystery, but they have somehow managed to make even that seem soft, thanks to the amateurish acting. Story lines are basically teen faire, meaning that things are made to appear much more tragic than they actually are. That’s fine if you are a teen girl, but for the majority of the population this should not be a desired trait in an hour-long drama.
The audio, I am sorry to say, is a bit on the flat side. The tones on the higher end of the spectrum are fine, but the subwoofer doesn’t have much to do. This is especially clear during the music cues, which don’t have the emotional punch that they were intended to have. The occasional gunshot is also not as powerful as it should be. Dialog is basically clear, though, and the show does an adequate job of living up to the stereo format.
On the plus side, the show is presented in a clean widescreen format. On the downside, the colors are severely overblown. Tones skew heavily toward red, making everything look like it was shot during magic hour. This is a tactic that works brilliantly when it is used subtlety in The Godfather, but it is an overblown mess here. The flashback sequences are even worse. The saturated red tones are pushed even further during these segments, and when coupled with what looks like Vaseline on the lens, those flashbacks become very difficult to see clearly. I know it’s supposed to be stylized and colorful for the teen set, but this transfer is about as subtle as a night out in Vegas.
One place where this set does excel is when it comes to the supplemental content. Almost every episode has deleted scenes included, which is always a welcome tough. The quality on these scenes is the same as the regular episodes, except for the fact that they are non-anamorphic. I’m not sure why television show sets do that, but it is most certainly a commonly-occurring trend.
A Day on the Set with Veronica Mars is one of those segments that I actually really like to see on TV-on-DVD sets. This documentary featurette traces an entire day of shooting is some detail, and it really gives the viewer a good idea of what it is like to shoot one of these shows. The segment is fairly short, but it is very well done. There is also an electronic press kit included, called Veronica Mars: Not Your Average Teen Detective. While the “day in the life” segment is very informative, this is just the same basic fluff piece that shows up in all of these types of shows.
The extras wrap up with a gag reel. Here, viewers will see such hilarious scenes as actors sneezing and forgetting their lines. Listen, every movie and television show ever filmed is going to have mistakes captured on film. All I am saying is, if they are not funny, then don’t put them on the disc like it’s something special.
This show belongs on Saturday mornings, between reruns of City Guys and Hang Time. Of course, The CW isn’t that far off. I will say that I was glad to find that the episodes are not self-contained, like so many investigation shows are these days. Life does not happen in compartmentalized segments, and television shouldn’t be that way either.
If you are a fan of this show, then don’t let the fact that I don’t like it sway you. Go ahead and pick this set up. The audio and video are completely unimpressive, but I am sure it is no worse than it was during the original broadcast. Plus, the special features are actually quite nice. If you have not seen the show before, however, I strongly suggest you make a trip to the rental store before you pick this one up blind.